2/02/09 – cruelly


            Heyo. Back again. I don’t have any big thoughts to start off today’s writing exercise, so I guess we’ll just get right to it. Except I need to clip my fingernails first…ah, much better. Nothing as terrible as long fingernails on a keyboard. Well, okay, there’s lots of things worse. But you know.

            I think today…I’ll take whatever word I find and describe a landscape. Just take the first image that comes to mind after reading the word and go for it. Don’t self edit; just write and let it flow.

            So, the word: cruelly.


            I looked out my window as the train sped across the countryside, and marveled. Thirty years ago, nay, twenty, these hills were rolling with golden wheat and green alfalfa, an ocean that wafted gently in the east wind. But times had changed. These had been the last of the hayfield lands, and now even they had fallen into despair.

            The trees, when there happened to be any, were wilted and shriveled, thin poles that struggled to rise from the dust. Can you image a hill with no grass? Not dust like the desert or rocky as a mountain, but rather ground that has been scorched by a thousand hot suns, shaken till any plant had been uptorn from its bed; nothing compares to it. Cracked and dry of blood, the prairies lay baked under a noon sun, but nothing rose. There was no life here.

            A dusty red haze lingered on the horizon. Like the sea the land stretched out as far as the eye could see, a barren wasteland. This was the Midland Waste, once inhabited but now inhabits cruelly spit out to the east coast.

            Then, wonder upon wonders, I see a tree upon a knoll in the distance. It is far enough away to be faded into the dying breath of the land, but close enough for me to stare long at it as the train barrels relentlessly through such an empty place. 

            It’s base cannot be large; perhaps two men could stretch their arms about it. Gnarled and thin, its bark is gray and sickly. There is no energy for numerous branches. Rather, it has opted for only a few near the top of its height. Only a leaf here or there clings to the thin arms, and they drink deep of the sun which will be their death.

            I feel sadness as we pass through that land. This was once the great pride of the land, but now all is laid bare, naked under an infernal sun. Long ago the rage of the sun was kindled against us, and it burned patiently, waiting the day when its restraints would be pulled back and it would be allowed to unleash fire and burning upon the land. What caused the enmity between sky and ground, sun and root?

            I bow my head as we pass into crags and spires that thrust up from the ground, and I lament the passing of that which we took for granted, of which we treated too cruelly as to appreciate before it was gone.


            Hmm. Well that stunk. I learned two things today: first, choose a smaller object. Perhaps we’ll be able to get bigger as the sword is freed from its sheath, but for now be content with single, easily imagined items. Second, atmosphere is very important to writing. Not that one should wait till everything is perfect to write. It is not so much about inspiration as it is perseverance. But atmosphere does help or hinder, in its own right. Noises from the other room, and loud banging on the piano, should be classified in the hinder category.

            But still, I press on. (sigh) “God, forgive me letting my talents lie neglected these past years. I was like the servant to whom one talent was given, and I, taking it for granted and assuming the Master would reap with no effort, buried it in favor for other ventures. Forgive me, Lord. Teach me to be faithful, and please grant me ink for my pen. I am too dry on my own to write. I am too dry on my own to write.”


            Look here, young one. I see a flame, caught within the branches of a tree. Let us look to it, shall we? Forget what you know of flame and heat, and look with me. Perhaps we shall learn something from it. There is flutters, a cold and blue light. The smallest wind that spins about would puff it out, would cast it down to the icy coals where it would starve and die. But if it lingers, if it takes hold of that tree and digs in, it may yet find strength to grow. Grow it will, till the tree has begun its bed and fuel, and it, like its brother fire, will begin to kindle, begin to eat deep of the wood, and in time stand tall and strong. So do not give in to despair, my friend. There is yet a sun that lingers behind impassable mountains. Traverse that snowy pass, and you may find quiet glen close by. Here is your quest. Here is your journey. Endurance is called for; persistence is needed; a strong will and resolve, a set jaw is required. But again shall untapped strength be reached. At last you shall find yourself kneeling by clear brook and gentle wind, if you indeed press on. Do not faint, but trust to the One from whom all blessings flow. Our blessings are from Him and they are through Him. We cling, then, to Him, and hope that we may yet break through the veil to blessed paradise, and if not that, then perhaps it will be place where joy comes forth and ink like blood flows from our fingers.

            So we press on. We press on.

            We press on.


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