Monday, July 20, 2020

St. Paul and Spontaneous Utterances

I remember the first time hearing the words, "stream of consciousness writing," while listening to my favorite priest, Fr. David, teach about St. Paul's letter to to the Romans in a bible study class long ago. The words stuck in my brain, "stream of consciousness." I must have rolled them around in my head over and over again, dissecting the meaning. I liked the way the words sounded. I wanted to know exactly what they meant. But, I tucked them away and focused my attention back to St. Paul and his letter to the Romans. 

St. Paul the Apostle icon by Theophilia on DeviantArt
Up until that time, I had no idea who St. Paul was except that he became a disciple of Jesus after Jesus had died. While in that bible study class, I learned more of who St. Paul was and what he had contributed to the world then, and the world today. I loved learning about the letter to the Romans. I enjoyed Fr. David pointing out the nuances in St. Paul's writing. The nuances brought the letter alive. It was in that bible study that I realized the book of Romans was actually a letter, not merely the title of another book in the bible. Fr. David told us that St. Paul profusely wrote his thoughts. He had something to say, and he used a lot of words to say it. But, his words were very succinct. They made sense. If you ever read any of St. Paul's letters in the bible--and he wrote a lot, most of the New Testatment--if you read them like they were written, like a letter, you will feel like he's talking to you. In some places, you can even tell where he loses his train of thought a little. I loved this. I identified with this. 
This stream of consciousness type of writing, it's the type of writing I like best. I like to feel as if the author of what I am reading is standing next to me and talking to me. I like to hear the author's voice, or feel like I'm hearing it. I like to feel as if I personally know the author. St. Paul wrote this way, and he is not the only person through history, or even today, to write like this. There have been many authors, so many letter writers, and the subject matters vary. 
Blah Blah Blah Speech Bubble - Blah - Sticker | TeePublic

I imagine that St. Paul also spoke in this stream of consciousness manner. It just seems likely to me. Whoever writes in this manner probably speaks in this manner, don't you think? I imagine this, because I do this. My stream of consciousness often finds its way straight from my brain and out of my mouth. At times I've been told I have no filter, so I've learned to think a little more thoroughly before I speak. If I don't I will have what I like to call "spontaneous utterances." I've learned, mostly in my adulthood, to keep my spontaneous utterances a little better reined in. There are times when what I'm thinking does not need to be spoken. Other times, it's very good to speak your mind. 

But wait. I'm getting a little off track. I think I was starting to have a spontaneous utterance in my writing. I started speaking my mind. Actually, I was writing what I began thinking in my mind. That's how stream of consciousness works. Although, speaking your mind and having a spontaneous utterance are not quite the same. Speaking your mind doesn't always take into consideration others around you. Not that I haven't been guilty of this. Most people have been guilty at one time or another of forgetting to bite their tongue. What I do more often is always having something to say. My mind doesn't shut off, so I can comment on just about anything. I don't always, but I always can. I always have something I could offer in any situation.

My stream of consciousness fluidly and quickly moves from one situation to the next. I am able to quickly take in my surroundings and understand what is going on around me, practically in any circumstance, while at the same time remember what I am going to make for dinner or how beautiful a sunflower is or how fun it is to grow tomatoes and potatoes.  

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Unlike St. Paul, I don't always have something profound to say. But, what's funny is that St. Paul had no idea his words and letters would be studied by millions of people for thousands of years when he wrote his letters. He was just writing letters. He was just trying to do a good job about teaching people about this great man he grew to know and love.
I don't think any of my spontaneous utterances will be so esteemed, but I do like to think that every now and then I say something that makes someone stop and think, "Hmmm...." and maybe they smile or ponder my words a little while or even Google what I have said or written. I do have a lot to say, and I do enjoy writing. What I say or write might not always be very important, but every now and then, maybe it is. Maybe my spontaneous utterances are important to someone, or will be, now that I have started this blog and have a bit of a platform. I just need to remember when I speak my mind, when I write my stream of consciousness, my spontaneous utterances need to entice a smile. I hope to do that. I hope whoever reads is entertained or wowed or made to ponder some of my posts. I know I've pondered St. Paul's writings. I've even Googled them so as to understand exactly what he was trying to say. He's made me smile, feel good about the world, and sometimes stop and think, "Hmmm..." 
I enjoy my stream of consciousness and all my spontaneous utterances. I'm appreciative of that bible study long ago that taught me, among other things, just what stream of consciousness writing is. I hope, in my writing, my reader will feel like I'm talking to them, having a lovely conversation which makes them smile and maybe to stop and think...
Hmmm'' speech bubble | Public domain vectors

Friday, July 10, 2020

Red Leafed Silver Linings

I am a receptionist at a high school, but I do a lot more than answer the phone and help visitors who come through the front door to the school. One of my many responsibilities is to post the school's daily bulletin. When the pandemic was declared, and all the schools were forced into distance teaching and learning, my principal had re-vamped the bulletin so that it would be more or less "live" and accessible by any student or parent anytime of the day. My new responsibility was to keep the bulletin up-to-date as new information came in. It was easy enough. 

The pandemic and everything associated with it was new territory for every single one of us. This new territory, this new way of life, made me nervous, so I knew others would be, too. When I'm nervous, my mind tries to quickly find solutions. I can't stop my mind from trying to find a silver lining in any uncomfortable or unknown situation. I firmly believe in everything there is good, you just have to look for it. When you find it, fear of the unknown is easier to handle and accept. I saw an opportunity to reach out to others with the new way of creating and sharing the bulletin. So, I asked my principal if I could start a new section to the bulletin, a Silver Linings Section, where I would write about the positives of our new pandemic world. In the new section, I encouraged others to send me their silver lining moments, and few times, I had someone send me something, but it was mostly all me. It was a challenge, but I had a responsibility. I enjoyed the challenge and wrote something uplifting every day.

When the school year ended, I had developed a following of sorts, fans made up of students, parents, and teachers. I was blessed with their emails telling me how they enjoyed my silver linings every day. A few people told me I should start a blog, that if I did, they would read it.

So, I started this blog. 

But, writing this blog hasn't been nearly as easy for me as my daily requirement of writing a silver lining for the school's daily bulletin was. I can't quite put my finger on why I'm dragging my feet about my blog, why I'm finding it difficult to write for this when it came so easily for the daily bulletin. I think the difference is that I was trying to uplift people with my silver linings for the bulletin. I had a reason. I wanted to make people feel less nervous about the pandemic. There was purpose for my writing. I was writing for high school students and/or anyone who was interested in what I had to write. And it's not that I write in any profound sort of way. I just wrote my thoughts based around something currently happening in everybody's world, but I tried to make it uplifting and maybe funny.

For my blog, I currently don't have an audience. I'm just writing. I'm more or less writing for and to myself. That seems a little self-absorbed. It's not part of my personality. I'm a people-pleaser. I like to make others happy. So, it's taken me a little while to get started. I can't seem to find my groove.

 I was out in my garden the other day. I love when a rose bush grows. Rose bush leaves are green, but most times, they start out a very deep red, almost burgundy color. I took a few pictures of different red leaves, bursting into this life. They were so small, so tender. They were the very beginning of something that would eventually be very beautiful.

I started to wonder how I would write a silver lining about the beautiful, tiny red leaves. I wanted to somehow use the red leaves that eventually grow into the stems of beautiful roses as some sort of symbol for myself and my struggle with writing for my blog. There's something about those little red leaves that made me think about my struggle. So, here it goes.

When a rose blooms and it is trimmed from the bush to be enjoyed indoors, that trimmed spot on the stem will stay dormant for a little while. It's almost as if the rose bush needs to recover from losing the rose it grew. It's a small shock to its system. But, in time, above the first five-leaf spread below the trim, the rose bush will start to grow again. It will start slowly. There will be a little bump, and after a few days, small red leaves will make their silent explosion into their new world. After a few more days, the leaves will become larger, additional red leaves will follow their lead, and the original leaves will start turning green. In time, as more and more leaves come forth, they will reach towards the sun, growing taller and stretching into a branch with many green leaves. And thorns. Let's not forget the thorns. The thorns are part of the rose bush's personality. It's protecting itself from the certain loss it knows will eventually come. But, it can't stop itself from wanting to produce another thing of beauty; and after many days, the small red leaves, all now large and green, a new rose bud begins to grow. 

How does this relate to my hesitance or my fear of writing in my new blog? How is this a silver lining for me? What can I use as a symbol for my writing? Well, when I write, I love it. I love the process, I love the finished product. Once I get started writing, I become excited and can't stop myself until I am finished, especially if I am writing for someone or something. I'm a great letter writer because of this. I know I am putting words on paper to be read and appreciated by another person. This is how I felt with writing for the school's daily bulletin. But, once my writing is done, once my letter or project is over, I go dormant. I am like the rose bush that has had a rose trimmed away for someone to enjoy. I think this is how I feel at this moment. I had a reason to write for the daily bulletin. When I started, I sprouted my red leaves, and I grew and grew. I stretched, and my thorns were there, protecting me because I knew, eventually, I was giving a part of myself away. But, I wrote and wrote, stretched and stretched, reaching into the world and growing my beautiful rose.

Then, it ended. My rose was trimmed. I was appreciated for the time I spent writing, but it ended. So, now I'm a little in shock. I'm a little dormant. But, I know eventually I will have more than myself to write for. I know my red leaves will grow. In fact, this is my third blog post. This is the beginning, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm really enjoying writing and finding the silver lining in my rose bush's red leaves. I love trying to assimilate the red leaves to the early stages of my blog. 

I think I will continue with my writing as the mood strikes. It is something I take joy in. And, even though I take the chance of many roses being trimmed, it's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, many trimmed roses create a beautiful bouquet than can be enjoyed by many!


Thursday, July 2, 2020


What is it about sunflowers? They start so small, a seed about the size of your fingernail. Some, once planted in the ground, will sprout small green leaves and continue growing into tall stalks, sometimes 12-15 feet high. When satisfied with its height, the stalk, which has been forming small flower buds as it slowly reaches to the sky, has formed one larger, glorious flower bud at the top of the stalk. This flower could be as big as 12 inches in diameter, and as it slowly opens, it chooses to face east, where the sun will rise and greet the flower daily. The flower and the sun seem to be celebrating and worshiping each others' miraculous beauty as a daily ritual. Continuing down the stalk, following the lead of the first bloom now behaving as a matriarch, several smaller flowers will slowly open their petals to greet the warmth of the sun.
As a sunflower blooms, both the larger and the delicately smaller buds tend to face the east, anticipating and looking forward to the gentle warming of the sun. The stems of the smaller flowers branch off the main stalk and continue to stretch up into the sky, following the example of their matriarch, reaching as high as their stems allow them to, stretching towards the sun.

It is thought that sunflowers follow the sun, their bright faces soaking the warm rays as it slowly moves across the sky. To a degree, they do. It is when they are buds they reach and pull and try to face the east, where the sun will warm them into bloom. Once they have bloomed, the sunflower will stop following the sun but will continue to face east, waiting in golden anticipation for the sun's return each and every morning.

So, what is it that draws us to sunflowers? You have to admit it, they do have some sort of attraction. Could it be their golden yellow color? Maybe. The color yellow is a cheerful, happy color. Perhaps we are drawn to the flower because it instantly makes us feel better just by looking at it. Maybe it's the natural Fibonacci Sequence it so proudly displays after it has let go of all it's colorful beauty, proving that there is possibly no end to its generosity. The draw the flower holds is almost magnetic, filling the average onlooker with awe. 

Sunflower Seeds: Nutrition, Health Benefits and How to Eat Them
For me, it is all of this and more. The sunflower was the first plant that I discovered the joy from starting from seed. I marvel at the goodness of this small seed, how much potential it holds and how much joy it will bring. It's something I look forward to every summer.

Sunflowers can teach us lessons. First, start small, stay humble, and bloom where you are planted. But, don't just bloom alone. Make sure you set a good example and encourage others to follow it. Stand tall and turn your face towards the warmth of every day. Find a way to bring your joy to others, and be generous with your time. Lastly, when it's time to say goodbye, leave behind memories and ways to remind those who love you how to remember you. 

When Life Gives You Lemons ...