on prayer | 19

One of the greatest gifts of this past year has been the continued prayers and encouragement I have received from Father Martin. This is one of the prayers he sent my way: words that have taught me, and continue to teach me, how to pray.

Father of all; I pray for my sister that she may not feel alone.

Yes: she must feel alone, and learn to love that aloneness before she can love at all: but I pray that she knows she is loved in that aloneness, that all-one-ness, in which You are the Lover: and the Beloved. And may her ache for that oneness never go away: until You bid it leave.

May she keep her sweetness through all this: her sense that there is a rightness to things; and a roundedness, and a resounding sense of the rightness of her place in Being.

And may she not lose her edge; that slight bit of tartness that sharpens our savour for more, that purifies with its astringency the puff and the pretense of so many of the rest of us.

May her purity and her passion continue to be a beacon to those of us who need it always but always manage to let it go astray.

And may - for our sake, and Yours - and hers - she find, day after day, the strength to live with it: to live with herself : in You.

With thanks for my sister: in Christ


(Father Martin Johnson)


looking back, twenty-sixteen

The following is what I set out to do in the last year. I made this list last January, printed it out and pinned it to the linen board above my desk beside the closet where I get dressed every morning. Despite the fact that I did not complete many of the goals, I did nonetheless find it helpful to have these goals in front of me each morning: a guide to remembering how I want to spend my days.

Run a half-marathon. Nope.

Do one art project each month. Eh. In retrospect, this wasn't that helpful of a resolution, seeing as good projects take much longer than a month. But this past year has been good soil for an idea that is just now coming to seed, and which I am hoping will be finished this coming year, and am really excited about. That feels even more successful to me than doing twelve small projects.

Do the introduction class and two-week trial at the climbing gym. Maybe stick with it. Nope. Instead, I joined the YMCA and am loving it. I am pretty certain that YoPi at the Lakewood YMCA on Monday evenings is way better than any climbing gym.

Get more involved in Walltown. Keep popsicles in the freezer. Sit on the porch. Visit neighbors. Not really, except the sitting on the porch part and sharing some tomatoes with Mario and talking plants with Mr. B. Need to keep working on this.

Make more of an intentional effort to make and keep friends. Kind of a difficult one to judge. But, I feel grateful for more and deeper friendships in Durham this year, particularly female friends.

Start art group with Sam. Did this, but it was kind of a bust.

Read a book a week—fifty two books in the year. I was so far from this goal, and it seems to me like the most important goal, the one that I need to really work on again this coming year. Not necessarily 52 books, but just more books. More reading. I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a working woman, to carry the burden of both making money and domestic responsibilities (something that I find myself falling into, by habit), and how little time that leaves for anything else besides sleeping. Finding time to read is hard, much harder than when I was in school. But I have also been realizing what a necessity it is for making art. If I am going to make art, I need to read more. And if I am going to read more, I need to be both better at fighting for my time and letting the dishes go.

Visit Heather in Boston. Yes, and I had such a sweet, sweet weekend with H. in March.

Initiate girls' weekend with Rebekah and Anna. Kind of, not really. Try again for this year!

Write poems, and submit them. I did not write a single poem this year, but I did submit a few old ones, and one got published. I have some snippets I've been working on for a new poem, and maybe now is the time to turn back to that.

Quit at All Saints. Done.

Find another job that I like. If anything, this has been the year of too many jobs: gallery assistant, graphic designer, photographer, studio assistant, barista, and I could go on. The question I most dread people asking is "Where do you work?" It's just too complicated to answer. I love almost all of my jobs, and feel very lucky to have work that I find meaningful, but I am also hoping that maybe this new year brings a less complicated answer to that question.

Watch more films on Derek’s movie list, as well as in general: more films. I wouldn't say I watched a lot more films, but I did cross off a few from Derek's list (A Single Man, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fargo, etc.). And, last night, Austin and I watched Short Term 12, which just might be one of my favorite movies I've watched this year (that, or Moonlight).

Go on a backpacking trip with Sarah.
 Yes! I am so glad this happened. I didn't think I could go because of a barista shift, but at the last minute someone picked up my shift and I quickly packed my bag and took off with Sarah and Taylor to Grayson Highlands State Park. It was a good, good weekend of constant rain and wild ponies and burning bushes.

Find a way to begin learning Italian. I tried so hard to get into a course at Duke and the local community college, but to no avail. 

Go through all clothes and re-vamp closet. Keep no clothes that I rarely wear. This is more of a twice-a-year task, I find, but I did it early this year and again recently, and took big bags to the local thrift store both times. I am almost too good at getting rid of clothes, because I will often find myself weeks after I gave a piece of clothing away looking for it and wanting to wear it. Oops. But I would much prefer that than to be burdened by too much.

Bake bread regularly. Kind of, sort of. Austin and I baked a lot more bread this year than any year before, so I'll say we (not just I) did this.

Find a spiritual director. Yes!

Make my own chai more regularly. I started doing this earlier in the year, and then realized how expensive it is to buy vanilla beans (etc.) every week, so I haven't kept it up. 

Compost. Build compost pile in the backyard.
 Yes! And I'm so proud of our little compost pile, which is doing quite well now.

Build raised beds. Yes! Austin and I built it ourselves and hauled two carloads of dirt to our front yard. We grew tomatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe, strawberries, basil, lavender, and broccoli. It all was ready to harvest when we were gone this summer, so we didn't actually get to eat much of it. But I am hoping for a better spring harvest!

Save and buy a new camera lens and/or body.
 Yes! Sold my old Nikon D7000 and bought a Nikon D750.

Finish setting up our home, so that it feels finished. I still have plans to sew curtains for our bedroom, but other than that, yes! It does feel finished, and I love this home so much.

Have monthly re-evaluations of goals and life choices. Nope, not really.

Find a way to practice confession at a church. No. Perhaps this Lent?

Begin a photo-book library. Yes, and I am out-growing the section of the bookshelf that I designated for photo books. My most exciting recent acquisitions include Emmet Gowin and Ellsworth Kelly.

Sew a dress. Ask Rebekah for that pattern. I have the pattern printed and ready to go, but have not sewn the dress.

Make a tres leches cake. I literally made this on NYE, so yes! I did, and it was tasty and sweet. A little too sweet for my liking.

Develop recipes of my own. Start collecting them into a homemade book/blog. Mm, not really, but I have got something in the works for the new year.

Bike more often. Get bike equipment. I did buy a bike light, a helmet, and gloves, which makes biking seem more doable, but I need to actually do it more often.

See Gianna and Kira face-to-face. This, somehow, magically, happened! I saw Gianna earlier this year in Boston, and Kira came to visit us in Durham from Toronto. The best.

Re-do my website. Make it more professional. Started an overhaul and re-designed it. Still needs more content updating though.

Write long letters to friends, especially Jess, Kira, Jayne, etc. Some, but not enough.

Write one letter a week to Austin, even if short and sweet. Failed at this.

Get a second ear piercing or tattoo.  This was the one thing I thought for sure I wouldn't actually do, but I did after all get a tattoo this year. Reb and I went together in September and it happened in ten minutes and I am happy that I did it. It still surprises me sometimes.

[our home, 35mm]