Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Currency of Solitude

What’s the currency of solitude? A way of trading explanations for silence, verbosity for stillness, observation for freedom? Are there coins that will show me its face, or maybe an image of the forest where it lives, their metallic edges smooth from being turned colors by weather? Can I buy it with paper, with the recycled foreheads and wrists of gentle trees that used to understand me and offered me only the gentle spoon of self at four o’clock, when plans are being made and I should be lonely? Or with ribbons of something like litter, pale and a little gritty from being with the earth? Or is it lost to me forever? Can I send someone after it? a bird perhaps, like a carrier pigeon in whose fat breast the password can be tucked, in between one wing and another? A quiet child, humming an innocuous song to himself, his small hands shoved in pockets deep for bearing me endless prairies of grassy absence? A wind, one that has a compass inside it with directions to all the places I used to go to be alone? I can see it now. That face will have a needle, one that calls me into the boggy spot where joe pye weed makes friends with lost fishing lures in summer and the air smells like acorns. When I get there, I won’t hear anything but the things I choose to: a sound like moths at twilight, making friends in a game of tag under light, or one that makes me think of curtains opening into sky, with only the slightest shrug of intruding whisper there to make me lonesome for voice and touch. And when that haunting happens, when time is up and I have to come back to the rooms of the world, I’ll need a ticket back to that soft earth where I could be alone: a voucher for reclaiming my own translation of the way an afternoon can simmer into evening. Without it, I won’t be lost, but the geography I’ll know will be one where I can’t smell the stems of leaves or know how long they’ve been waiting for me to come back to them. In that place, I’ll trade shared words for business done, and almost all the words you’re reading here will tip their hats and say goodbye, lighting out for that uncrowded territory where they can sit by themselves and notice, just one more time before night falls, the shape of a moth in the fading light.

lks 2008

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at or