A Haines Home Companion: The Brave Woman

library work

I would know better to do it, but if you were to come and see me, in my heart, I’d be thinking, Oh please come let me show you our library. It’s so beautiful. It may be my favorite place, more reverently quiet than church ever dreamed of being. Not until you have headspace do you realize how you’d been without it. A thought spins out and strings to another. I’m walking up the stairs, tying them together.

I walk down the isle to the poets. In my years here, I have only ever piled up the children’s books, and only once did I request they put a self-help book aside for me.

A mother gets so little quiet. She forgets herself and the women she used to admire in secret, the prods of Virginia Woolf and Lisel Mueller. It’s been so long since I’ve done more than run my finger down their spines. Poetry is for the lonely voice inside, and motherhood can be lonely enough, too scary to enter in, afraid of echoes I might hear.

Lately I’ve felt the great need for courage else I die, so I’m not afraid of the lonely voice anymore. If I’m to write anything at all, I’ll have be well acquainted with these deeper waters with God.

I have struggled so to release the guilt of enjoying what I do. That sounds insane and shackled, I know, but I bet I’m not alone. I’m terrified that if I enjoy it, or worse – if YOU enjoy what I do, then I’ll worship it. I won’t fit my britches. I’ll turn into someone terrible and shirk my responsibilities. What if I hire help and never fold my own laundry again? What of my womanhood? Well, it’s decided now. I’m allowed to find joy in the work I’m called to do, and I’m allowed to release the work to which I am not called. I would love to say this means that I’ll no longer be putting up my own clothes. But that’s not true.

An hour at the library reminds me that I used to be brave. Once I exchanged courage for peace, an overwhelming desire to see my own two feet in a firm place, not just throwing myself on a fast little pony, hollering as I go. I see now that my old pony has done its tricks. I’ve taken her to stall and tied her up. Now I have birthed these four babies and lost four others. I have seen marriage raise from the dead. I have held my baby in arms all night long, memorizing his face in case I never saw it again.

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And I have peace now. My feet are exactly where they’re supposed to be. I stand in the library with fire in my bones. I love it here. I love the lonely places in my heart and God’s mysterious will for my life. He has said left and then right, and here I am at the large bay window lined with tables, here at the bronze sculpture made by Anita Huffington’s gorgeous hands.

She took poetry classes with me. Her hair long wisps of gray, she’s a ballerina, pale body. You could hear her pencil scoot and call it beautiful. I saw her in the grocery store a few months ago, and she remembered that I left academics to birth the many boys. In her day, she danced, the sculptress, and it’s said she found lovers and dearest friends of the poets who line these shelves.

The bronze sculpture is a bare-breasted woman twisted out of bark like a mermaid swimming into herself. I had forgotten that it’s here. Brave woman, I am not afraid to be like you, lonely as you are in the art. I know I must swim into God.

Comments

  1. i feel your kindred lone-speak soul calling to my own. these sacred spaces of leaning into the hush, the quiet. between the lines of poetry. between the isle of books. i most feel her too in these spaces, when i take pen across page, when i let peace around me settle, i allow myself to feel its weight against the rise of my chest while breathing. this women that i am, always. you brought me back to her this morning, thank you.
    tara pohlkotte recently posted..Half Light of Morning

  2. Swimming with you, into Him Who Is vast enough to contain us all.

    Saying yes to your yes, yes to the courage He calls us to. Even this morning, in my journal He spoke saying “go forth in courage”

    In Him, I can be bold. That’s the only way I was able to hit send on the email to Seth that contained the novel I’ve been writing… and as I solicit help and opinions He is where I find my rest and my peace.

    Your feet are surely on solid ground, even if the world seem to quake beneath you!
    HisFireFly recently posted..yes to the next

  3. I know this fear, Amber, and I’ve seen it in your eyes. But I also know the God who is wooing you to freedom with a wink and a smile.

    Fear not, oh woman of God.

  4. Beautiful…and I can’t wait to see the art you produce as you continue to spend time in those lonely places. This is your time, friend!
    the Blah Blah Blahger recently posted..EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE THAT HAPPENS

  5. I would call this post “vulnerable” and your allowing yourself to be vulnerable and brave will call others to do the same. This is incredibly beautiful and I doubt you will ever be allowed to get “too big for your britches.” Love this..

  6. Well said! You so just unpacked some boxes of thoughts and feelings that I haven’t dared open in my own heart and mind.

  7. Oh Amber. I read your words often and don’t often comment, but how they speak to me: “Lately I’ve felt the great need for courage else I die, so I’m not afraid of the lonely voice anymore. If I’m to write anything at all, I’ll have be well acquainted with these deeper waters with God.” And I feel I’m there, with you in that library, and I’m one of the real-ones you spoke to the other day, and I so love your voice and how it calls forth the stories that are in me, too. Thank you. I feel the stirring of excitement for you, that you are going to a deeper place, and I look forward to watching that unfold.

  8. “I’m allowed to find joy in the work I’m called to do, and I’m allowed to release the work to which I am not called.”

    And wisdom and discernment to know which is which :).

    {run, jenny, run!!}

  9. Oh, yes, YES! Exactly the sentence Robin quoted – that’s the beautiful, God-ordained truth. And so, dear Amber, are you.

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