I’m just bubbling over with excitement to meet KUOW‘s own, Steve Scher tomorrow within the hallowed grounds of Lakeside Cemetery to discuss Four Rubbings. Maybe something’s wrong with me, but I can’t show up without a little gift. Cookies didn’t seem right. Instead, I thought of my wonderful mother-in-law, Elizabeth Hotes who always told me to create art and share it with others. So, to honor her, I reached for the sketchbook:
A Very Special Guest Post by My Sister-in-Law, Stacy Hotes
Stacy’s been selflessly enduring the graveyard shift at the hospital to advocate for her mother who is healing from open heart surgery. This came to her one evening as she sat vigil over her mother. I think it is beautiful. Thank you for letting me share this with the world, Stacy. I love you.
We live so much in the busyness of the days, in our to do lists, our wants lists, our friends and families lists. It has been a refreshing revelation and reminder to sit here in my mother’s hospital room, and gain profound pleasure in watching her chest move up and down with every blessed, sacred breath, each one a gift from a God who desires to give us the very best. We lose sight of those comprehensions as they melt away into our subconscious, coming one after another in expected, commonplace, unremarkable rhythm, until we come face to face with the realization that each and every one is a gift from God, whole and complete, with a place in the continuum that — were it not filled — would spell the end of that continuum.
It is the very essence of life, as it were, that gentle lifting up and easing down of a chest filled first with air, and then released for a short moment. As William Blake said,
“To see the world in a grain of sand,
and heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour.”
This is the distilled truth of life, that without each breath — the visible, outward sign of a working body that draws it in, releases it, sends the oxygen through the heart and the blood through the veins, and the signals through the nerves, and the information to the brain — without that breath, the body no longer lives and serves.
All the things we have placed importance on, the individual choices of what is important and what must be done and how to complete it and what to do next are nothing without that breath that comes in, does its work, and goes out again, in a rhythm as encompassing and satisfying as listening to the pounding surf on a Hawaiian beach. Because it is a soft and gentle and simple involuntary thing, we lose sight of it, we overlook, we lack awareness of the beauty of this gift that God has given us. Until it is nearly taken away, and the raw fragility, the inherent, undeniable necessity, and truly, the incredible sweetness, of each breath is emblazoned again on our minds and hearts.
Huge thanks to the young actors and amazing videographer that made the project so fun and a resounding success.
Please share the link so others can learn about Four Rubbings. Smooch!
FourRubbings Book Trailer
If you’re interested in owning the novel, check out IndieBound.com to make your purchase! Or request the book at your local library or local indie bookstore. Here’s Wikipedia’s list of independent purveyors. Indie Bookstores!
call me Madame Leota, because this week I saw the future. And it looks good my friends, really good.
Today I was a guest at an all girls middle school. I was led from class to class by my own ten-year old daughter and experienced a day in the life. The girls worked in teams and delivered Powerpoint presentations, they rolled up their sleeves and explored hands-on science, they debated whether it was better to be right or to be kind. They used laptops to practice math, write journal entries and advocate for themselves with teachers. By lunch, my face hurt from smiling.
These girls are training up to change the world, one kind, intelligent policy at a time.
They are learning to listen to their intuition, use common sense, operate within a budget, debate respectfully, discover new information and let it inform their choices. These girls will one day lead us with humility and confidence in tandem.
In science class, the girls learned the term ‘remediation.’ As their teacher explained, it is a way to remedy a problem with the environment. And I was struck with the thought that these girls are going to remediate our country, our planet. They are the remedy.
As this next generation grows tall enough to fit into the big shoes we’ve left for them, let us take care. Things are in our care right now. Yours. Mine. His. We need to band together in spite of the political and social climate and dwell on our similarities, value our differences. Let kindness resonate through our daily dealings. Let hope be the filter through which we view the world. And if we have children in our keeping, guard them from life’s ugliness, guide them to make brave and confident choices, then stand back – mouth’s shut – and let the remediation begin.
It’s the main theme behind my new novel, Four Rubbings, though I didn’t realize it until after the words took shape. But, the question of how our actions impact the people around us has fascinated me since I was a doe-eyed college student on a campus as populated as my hometown.
Uprooted from small, rural Pasco, Washington, I quickly realized how lucky I was to be a part of university life. It was a place where people were welcome to debate their political views, rally for change, volunteer for civic service and a safe place to discover the elegant, complicated, mess I was. Rather than feeling lost in the numbers of my new urban home, I turned inside myself to define what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I chose to be a good human being. I’m still waiting to grow up.
These days, it is hard to stay true to that lofty tenet. You cut me off today on the freeway. You lied to me, a small, white lie and it hurt. You forwarded a hurtful email to me. You neglected to do the job I hired you to do. You fired my friend’s husband. You put your dog’s poop in my garbage can. And the truth is, my initial reaction was no better than the teens of Four Rubbings. Self-absorbed, irritable, overly dramatic, and immature.
In truth, I am an ugly, scaffolding-enclosed, tarp-wrapped work in progress. If you peeked under the surface you would see me struggle to do the right thing – all the time. My journey is no different than the teens in Four Rubbings. Except that I have had the privilege of thirty extra years to learn.
But what I’ve learned that the teens are on the path to discovering, is to pause before I react. God, it’s been a painful lesson. By nature, I am all things white-hot and fiery. I have strong opinions. I cuss and yell and pout and whine. But, these days I force my feet down a different path, a kinder path. I try to make better ripples now.
So, my fellow flawed, over-stressed, under-appreciated, beautiful human being, I challenge you to tread lightly this week. Smile. Hold a door open for the next guy. Let that car merge. Buy an extra bag of canned goods for the food bank. Then picture the ripples of goodness you’re leaving in your wake.