Sunday, January 20, 2013

a meager triumph

We're all watching football, most of us dubiously, or at least with a deep abiding sense of duty, but, I, at least, am basking in the glorious glow of finally having written on the last page of my journal. I've been writing in this journal for the last four years--began just a few days before we lost the lawsuit and had to move out of the old building and house--and have been sorely tempted, over the few weeks, to cheat by pasting pictures in the end or copying in laboriously the substance of some letter or fascinating post from my blog. But in the end I decided that integrity to the whole journal writing endeavor, and indeed my own conscience should win out over the perfect ideal of beginning a new book on the first of the year rather than on the 18th. So, in celebration of such an accomplishment and moral triumph, I have photographed all my journals.

Here is the first one (in the order of photographs, not of chronology). My very very clever aunt long ago  visually iconified the 'Lander Leg' in this lovely drawing which Marigold calls 'The Lady'. I, and all other females of the Lander Family, have inherited The Lander Leg--a stocky substantial Germanic leg which reaches all the way to the ground and which is, therefore, extremely useful. My Clever Aunt made this lovely picture and applied it to this book and to many cards. I was writing in this little book the summer my grandmother died.
It was really horrid of her to go off so suddenly, running away to her Love Jesus without warning anyone or being sick, although we all discovered afterwards that she had been sitting quietly on a lot of pain without fussing and whining the way I do. I was rooming with my Lovely Cousin and on the day Gramma (so we called her) died (whilst playing the opening hymn at a nursing home before my grandfather would preach) I sat up in my bed that very morning and said, "Cheer Up, things could be I cheered up and sure enough, things Got Worse', and never was I more prophetic than at that moment.
So next we have the book that was directly before that--The French Book. I purchased a nice plain gray book before shoving all my stuff in one of those old tortoise shell heavy duty suitcases so much coveted by me before I actually owned one. I had my plain clothes and plain hair and a frenchish sweater and very acceptable accent and I won't lie, I enjoyed my year in Nantes very very much.
I looked at the inside of every chateau I could reasonably get to, and eat my way through Strasbourg and spent all my religious holidays at Taize where I tried very hard to get them to accept me as a nun and failing that recommitted my way to Jesus accepting that I was a failure in so many things and yet He is Nice and He Likes Me.
I had to tear pages out at the end from writing much much too small through the year. Learned from this lesson later by buying books with actual lines in them.
And here is the bright fluffy much less fretful book with lines and blank pages in  which I discovered that I liked Matt Kennedy very much in spite of him arguing with the professors in class. Particularly liked that when I walked into a room he sort of came running forward with his piercing bright blue eyes saying foolish things like (in the school bookstore) 'Do you come here often?' Stopped writing a serious journal because of being swept up in  love and passing notes in New Testament and Systematic Theology.
Assuaged my conscience about not writing by pasting large cards on the off pages. Tore out a lot of pages at the end of the book to make it seem I'd even finished it.
Going back even further in time, here is the book I wrote in through High School. You remember, don't you, those puffy floral books from the 90's? They were so cool, so puffy, so floral.
I wasn't very clever, in high school, except in knowing that a lot of the things I was thinking and feeling feeling shouldn't be written down as they would embarrass me, probably, a great deal later.
Did do some "writing" but also an awful lot of "copy work"--the recording of clever and interesting quotes for future reference should I discover the need. Quotes like "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its fragrance on the desert air" or whatever that one was. Not going to stop now and look it up.
And so we come to the Grown Up Years, or whatever it is I'm in the middle of now. Leather bound books with lines and a litany, four days out of seven, of how I hope God will interfere in the affairs of his creation, including mine, intermingled with actual events.
This book took the better part of a year. Constancy. Virtue. Writing Nearly Every Day. You get the idea.

The book before that, you can see, was not so....well, let's not make ourselves feel worse than we need to, shall we?
And finally, here it is. This is the book I've just finished. Its horribly thick, closely and regularly written, and finally done!
January 1 to January 18 and in the intervening time, a remarkable work of God to bring us out of fear, cold, despair, worry, loss and grief to life, provision, hope, industry, growth, and the mercy of God who is gracious and loving enough to care for the things that feel like they ought not matter and the things that obviously do.
I'm really grateful.
And hopefully optimistic about the new book.
This book was purchased as an "impulse" but really as Deep Calling to Deep. The pages, you can see
are the kind I grew up writing letters home from boarding school on--close careful writing all the way down the length of a long page. The color and feel of the cover is Exactly Right. Mrs. Miniver, writing about an engagement book (but the principle is the same), "An engagement book is the most important of all those small adjuncts to life, that tribe of humble familiars which jog along beside one from year's end to year's end, apparently trivial, but momentous by reason of their terrible intimacy. A sponge, a comb, a tooth-brush, a spectacle-case, a fountain-pen--these are the things which need to be chosen with care. They become, in time, so much a part of one that they can scarcely be classed as inanimate. Insensitive, certainly--but so are one's nails and hair. And although some of them can be given away if one takes a dislike to them, with others the only remedy is destruction; and there is no case on record of anybody, however, rich, being strong-minded enough to throw an almost new sponge into the fire. Meekly, one puts up with its inconvenient shape, its repulsive texture, and the cretinous face which is discernible among its contours when it is lightly squeezed. Eventually, thank goodness, it will wear out; or with any luck one may leave it behind in an hotel."

In this case, the book is the same shade as the purse I  happened upon for such a glorious sale that I paid only ten dollars for it--short days before the strap on my True Purse wore completely thin. So there you are. A new year. A new book. A new purse. And a new pen, because, by the mercy of God, the old pen ran out at the same moment as the old book. New wine in new wine-skins and all that sort of thing.


Anonymous said...

Ooo, I like this post, and not just because I remember the impossibly floral and puffy journals of the 80s and the pasting things in journals to get to the ends of them, but also because of the record time that you have been faithful in NOTICING. I appreciate the view from here. Blessings.

The Copes said...

Systematic Theology? Eversly manipulated my fear of him to make me focus my attention to the privilege of doing theology... Rather I remember your notes (and you practicing your new signature) in Christian Ethics. :)

R said...

You know, I miss you a lot! I've been cheating and bought a Paperblanks daily for three years now, because a set of three looks so amazing on the shelf. Nearly bought a different colour, but absolutely had to have a set of three all matching... -_- I'm pretending that this year I'll write something EVERY DAY, but if not, my cover is that it was only an agenda planner and obviously I did not have enough to do that year. Or too much, not sure which. ;) Saved my life to have an easily accessible calendar last year. Not much writing was done, but the first 12 pages (monthly calendar) were essential to life. Can't believe it took me so long to figure out that if I'm always going to save my diaries anyway, they might as well be pleasant to look upon.


Unknown said...

I ought to practice writing smaller like you, to make my books last longer. I've gone through nearly 100 since I started writing at age 11, and they're such a burden to carry around every time I move...