☕️ Moments

A Saturday Caesura

I’ve not been very consistent with Saturday Caesura’s over the summer months, partly, I suppose, because as a teacher, the entire summer feels like a pause, a chance to slow down and breathe differently. The rhythms shift to something less structured, less demanding, and in that shift, my thoughts and words have floated along, loitering somewhere in the shallow backwaters away from the currents that are actually going somewhere. In short, I’ve felt unproductive.

I want to write something profound, something that has dug deep into my thoughts and soul and won’t let go until I’ve word-wrestled it onto paper, but I have only mundane thoughts — nothing that seems even remotely important in the grande scheme of the world and of life. How do I write faithfully without being trite? What if my words are as empty as they feel?

The reality is that my thoughts and words are often trite and empty because I can be so focused on productivity that I lose the value of rest and reflection and observation and lengthy pondering. Our propensity to equate success with productivity has actually robbed us of meaning, purpose, and relationship.

Last week I joined a few other hikers to attempt to summit two significant mountains in four days. Once we were up high enough to assess the first peak, we realized that it was not feasible within the time frame we had allotted. It was hard to walk away from that goal because something within us wanted to say that we had climbed both peaks. That would have been productive, successful, noteworthy.

What we did instead was climb the second mountain and spend the majority of the day wandering open alpine spaces with time to sit at the peak and simply revel in the expansive view. There was time to notice rocks and lichen and resilient alpine plants. There was time to pause and breathe differently. I didn’t leave that mountaintop with any profound thoughts or wizened words, but I did leave knowing that those moments mattered.

“All we have is this moment, but what we do with each of these slow, present moments will add up to something.” (Shawn Smucker*)

May you live this day, this week, knowing that each moment is a gift, whether it is one spent “getting things done” or spent resting, reflecting, healing, grieving, rejoicing, praying, learning, leaning…

*This quote is from Shawn’s August 5, 2021 newsletter. You can read more of his writing at shawnsmucker.com

☕️ Gifts

A Saturday Caesura

The first story I remember writing was about a cougar. At the time, I was positive that it was the greatest story ever written. I have only vague memories of what I actually wrote, but I can guarantee it was everything you would expect from an elementary school student: sentimental imaginings, clichéd descriptions, and gaping plot holes. I remember this particular story because writing it made me realize for the first time that the ideas and pictures in my head could become words on a page, that writing wasn’t just about copying letters or spelling words correctly or answering study questions in full sentences. I’ve not given much attention to story-making in the years since that failed masterpiece, but I’ve developed a love for story-finding among the bits and pieces and images of daily life.

The first picture I clearly remember drawing was of a poster-sized blue garbage can with big eyes, an open lid for its mouth, and “Feed Me” (or something similar) written on its belly. It won an anti-littering-on-the-playground contest which was monumental to my little-girl-self, not because of the prize (which I don’t even remember), but because I realized that I could draw and that I enjoyed drawing. At first I mostly drew animals. Okay… horses. But eventually a charcoal cat and a moose and mountain goats and even a cougar. Later, I realized that drawing people was somewhat similar to drawing animals; I just had to change the shapes and features and lines and proportions and perspectives — in other words, everything but the actual drawing techniques. Even later, I learned that artists call pencil crayons coloured pencils, and now I have a glorious array of them. They are still my favourite art tool.

Over the years writing and drawing have been relegated to the When I Have Time portion of the calendar. I regret this. I realize now that what I lacked was not time, but a proper understanding of the gift they are to me. For the past several years I have tried to be more faithful in using these gifts. I write and draw nearly every day, even if it is only for a few minutes – a quick sketch, a sentence or two. From this habit, comes a new project: a zine I’ve entitled Jots & Doodles, which combines inked images from my sketchbook with poems and reflections from my writing notebook.

Jots & Doodles Volume 1: Issues 1 & 2

As a gift to anyone who happens to stumble across this blog, I am making each issue of Jots & Doodles available as a PDF download. They can be printed on a single sheet of paper and folded into a booklet (see instructions below). They are the perfect size to tuck into a card or a pocket or an envelope, attach to a gift or pin on a bulletin board. If they bring you (or someone you know) some encouragement, I’d love to hear about it!

Gifts are only gifts if they are given.

Source: https://tellingcambridgetales.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/how-to-fold-a-zine/

Note: please notify me if there are any issues with the download links. Thank you.

🌿To Find a Poem

Sit in a favourite chair by a window.

Watch. Listen.

Go for a walk, run, or ride a bike.

Observe. Feel. Move.

Keep a notebook and pencil near by.

Jot. Record. Note.

Think about words and images and life.

Pay attention. Make connections.

Write – even if the words never become a poem.

Write – even if the words are read by you alone

Write – because this is how the poem finds itself.

But especially,

Live – because this is where the poem begins.


This is the final poem for this year’s National Poetry project. As always, this daily writing exercise has flexed muscles of observation that easily grow flabby in the distracted way that I am prone to live.

At the moment our lives are still restricted by a global pandemic, and this has certainly forced us to consider how much we actually needed all those distractions. Today, our government announced a plan to gradually reopen much of what has been closed, and while I look forward to this, I also want to remain still and quiet and observant. I have much more to see and know and learn – about the world, certainly, but mostly about myself and about the God who knows the power of words.