She’s in Iceland, author Pam Houston, sharing pictures of Icelandic horses she’s ridden at high speeds through weather, including pelting ice. I am awed by her bravery because horses can kill you. I suspect it’s her trust and her radiant love that keeps her safe.
I look at how cautious I am with my horse. I hesitate to do much more than drive around our fields even though Morgen has never bolted.
Orthodox priest, Stephen Freeman identifies my problem, in his essay Only Love Knows Anything: “There’s a part of us that is wired to be careful. It senses danger and hunkers down…A warning system is not designed to serve as a world lens. It does not see beauty, it fails to see the true complexity and wonder of the world, and it darkens and obscures any knowledge of God, including our sense of His presence.”
In her memoir, Deep Creek, Pam Houston says, “There’s not enough luck in the world to explain all the gifts I’ve received since then, all the strangers who’ve come through for me when I trusted them with my life.” Time after time, she offers proof, including paying off a note on her ranch through her creative writer’s livelihood.
As for me, it’s time to put down my fearful, cautious lens, and like Houston, in my own way, behold the world—the tree I look at multiple times a day, Morgen’s happy ears when I do drive her, the moon settling her bottom on the horizon.
I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.
If you’d like to hear me read this, click here.
These days, I’m not likely to hop on Morgen and ride around our fields. At my age, with osteopenia, a fall could be catastrophic. Besides, Tessie did a number on my confidence. The first time she bolted, I fell off. That loss of control, rattled me so deeply, a trainer took my fear seriously, walking with me in lessons, and giving me tools to keep her in contact. I never went off again, but those sudden bolts were enough terrify me every time I went trail riding. Zach Williams’ Fear is a Liar often aired when I pulled into the park, the lyrics in my head as I saddled her and rode out.
Morgen has been more honest and I trust her with driving though it is very dangerous. When she has startled, I’ve never lost her. She hates cows so thoroughly, we avoid them.
But I have pushed against fear by sending two poetry collections to Tupelo Press because I wanted to meet a deadline. This felt more like a donation to a worthy press than hope they’d accept the poems. My horse poems need to be snapped into sentences and the other collection, The Grieving Dreams, was basically the first draft of my novel The River Caught Sunlight. I also sent out a speech I gave at a healing service for a Best of Spiritual Writing book and a first chapter of a sequel to The River Caught Sunlight. My gosh I was in a lot of pain when I wrote that and The Grieving Dreams. And how the questions I asked in each of those pieces, were resolved is more marvelous than what I imagined then.
Naomi Wolf wrote if she survived her illness, she would write what frightened her most to write. I commented that if she could do it I would. A memoir/collection of essays has been nudging at me for quite sometime but the material is raw and I’m not sure my audience (you) would care to peek into those struggles. When I was briefly taking Adderall, the brain fog cleared enough for me to collate my essays. I hired writing coach and while she inspired me to write, ultimately I couldn’t afford her. But the material has continued to bug me. I’m finding the joy to puzzle out the pieces, a vision to make something beautiful and maybe showing how I made peace.
So for this week’s perspective I broke through that fear and wrote:
When I was ten, I wanted to be a boy. Every twenty-one days my period socked me with cramps and shame. I did not like my chunky body that bounced and jiggled when I rode my pony. Boys played fun games, didn’t cramp every month. I wished my breasts would stop growing.
But it was two farmers and a poet who beckoned the feminine in me. The first sat on his Oliver tractor, saying he’d visit every day if I were older. His eyes glittered with admiration. I listened for his tractor across the ravines, pointing my pony in that direction, following his tractor tire tracks that reminded me of geese flying. (My mother shagged him off.)
The second farmer took me up in his tractor. I watched his combine gather corn cobs under bright Orion. I’d fallen in love so hard when I returned to grad school writers admired my beauty. Finally, I wrote good poems. A beatific vision can do that to you.
There was Jack who named the charm in me, who kissed me under the tree galloping with stars in its mane, who sent me on my way charming journalists to write stories about my company’s books.
My gosh, I’m grateful I made peace with my womanhood, even though it didn’t come easy. I’m grateful for the gentlemen who called me into the fullness and joy of being a woman. I’m grateful to Bruce who runs his hands along those curves, loving them.
My producer thought this was too adult for their early-morning-drive-time audience. She thought the first farmer, a young man at 25 shouldn’t be honored because he was triggering–the Lolita effect and turned it down. I wrote the above “Radiant Love” instead.
As far as the first farmer, I was thirteen when we chatted. Nothing happened between us, just his recognizing my femininity and affirming it. It took until I was well into my sixties (duh) to realize my mother must have said something to him because he came back to our farm and dropped his moldboard plow into the fields and rolled them. They were ruined for riding. And not healed until that second farmer came along. (In real life nothing much happened between farmer number two, though in The River Caught Sunlight the story called for something else.)
I agreed and was relieved. I have wondered about whether I should respond to the culture war, but every time it comes up in conversation I draw a hard blank. I know what I’ve studied and think, but can’t recall those details, when I’m disagreeing with someone. Posting on Facebook doesn’t seem to accomplish anything but a long thread argument and I want to give Facebook less time.I am dogged by the saying that evil abounds when good people are silent. But there is so much chaos we can’t undo. Except by prayer. I take comfort in the Daily Office because Bruce and I join people around the world praying for justice. People need a break from the chaos and my original call was to write a vision of glory. And friendships are more important than opinions. At any rate, producers, editors can save us from ourselves.
What’s good about writing this piece is I did what I said in my comments to Naomi Wolf. I broke through my fear about writing this material and sharing it publicly. I was pleased she put me right back into the schedule. I think it might be a good, godly work to point people to the beauty of the world and not try to fight the culture war.
Summer is winding down. The days are getting shorter. Before long we’ll be setting our clocks back and the shades will be pulled down in theafternoons. The cold will come. But the heat indexes in the 100’s have joined us here in northern Illinois. Our windows are fogged up because the humidity is so high.
It was a surprise when our hay guy dropped our hay this weekend and when he raked and baled it a few days later, right at supper time. We finished our meal and ran out to winch the elevator up, lock Morgen in the east part of the paddock so we could drive the wagon in front of the barn and off load it. The heat wasn’t horrible. I asked my prayer meeting to pray for us because Bruce says putting hay is a fiasco. I have a painful shoulder, but it seems like hefting those 80 pound bales was some kind of hot physical therapy that undid frozen parts. Because it was so humid and the bales are so tight I worry that they will heat up and/or will mold. The rest of the field produced 19 big rounds.
It sure seems the sun is hitting the horizon by leaps and bounds. It seems like a week ago it was setting at 8:30 and now it’s setting at 7:30. This fall towards darkness is hard to bear. And in the spring the climb to light is also a tough change. Every day brings its own changes that can be disorienting. But some soul thing shifted in a significant way these last weeks. Hopefully more on that next week.
Thank you for reading this. If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter and have these land in your inbox, feel free to subscribe here.