I’m sitting in the place where I sit most mornings, rocking in gentle rhythms while the earth spins at 600 miles an hour. The cardinals are courting each other in the backyard, the red one flaunting his vivid color trying to catch the attention of the brown one with her muted tones. She is playing hard to get. Maybe they are about to become lovers or maybe it’s too late in the season to set up an avian cradle. Either way they have the look of a creation who knows exactly who they are; that they have a place and a purpose in this wide world.
Somehow the cardinals are born knowing in their little birdy bones that their highest praise is just be their cardinal selves.
I wonder what you are doing while we’re all hanging on for dear life to the face of this spiraling planet we inhabit. Maybe you’re drinking whatever it is you drink to get you awake when you get up. Maybe you’ve hit snooze a half-dozen times because sustainability is a struggle in your fuller than full, day after day. Maybe you are tending a babe at your breast or brushing your breakfast teeth or shooing everyone and yourself out the door for the many different directions a family goes during the sunlit seconds. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic or out to lunch or putting your hands to a hobby.
We are all of us doing our own things in sync, held in tight and tandem by the same universe.
Amber tells me on Sunday how she wonders if the universe is inside God and I’m stuck spellbound thinking about it: what if every of us and all the things–stardust and Spirit breath–are held together by the boundary of God’s eye; the interior glass of his cornea?
What if the window to his soul is where we are and what if his irises hold the iridescent gems of the Milky Way. What if those black holes we keep hearing about fall right down into his cavernous body. (I decide that I wouldn’t mind the descent if that’s where me ends up.)
His eye is on the sparrow because the sparrow is in his eye; I am inside God and God lives inside me.
Maybe this is why the Psalmist writes that there is nowhere to hide from the Almighty–if we go to the depths of Andromeda he is there, if we go so far east we end up west, he is there too. We are utterly enveloped saturated inspirited and maybe this is why everything I see has the sensation and sparkle of being enchanted.
And how small he had to become to join us, to shrink within his own eye to become the needle-point of a newborn Jesus.
Does anything make sense?
The older I get the less I think I know, but it was easy for me to imagine being housed within the eye of the Divine when we were watching the meteor shower last night. It was Jenni’s birthday and we celebrated on our backs with blankets and bubbly–a pile of us girls with spines and skin to the earth and our sights staring fixed at the night sky. We searched to and fro for every possible star tail, shrieked loud and silly whenever we saw another streak, then melted back to the dirt in satisfaction until the next one came along.
I think we were living our highest praise just by being fully alert when the cosmos rained light; while Perseid broke and tumbled in front of us.
Whether we’re in the actual eye of God or just sitting deep in the palm of his hand or simply riding the life force energy of her breath . . . I believe in–and follow hard after–this living Mystery, how wild how bold how alluring be he and he and she! I’d give the triune THEM a million exclamations points if I didn’t have a to-do list longer than the combination of all my limbs.
Somehow this brings me to another purpose for writing today:
Did you know I made a book last year? I began work in July of 2014 and wrapped final edits in March of 2015 and promptly decided I’d never do that again. Not the book writing part, but the itinerary I chose. On top of a life that was already maxed, the pressing deadlines about did us all in. I was putting all my glow–my very excavated soul–into Bandersnatch and there were times when I told my husband that my guts were an absolute graveyard because I gave the sum total of myself away–just kept pouring and pouring and pouring until every ounce of energy eked gone, leaving me vacuous of animation and riddled with self doubt. Comparison was my feast and constant disease; a ruthless and silent killer. Voices of blackness sat like couch potatoes in my head, persistently trying to chew my truth. I fought with every unseen breath. Sometimes the thing you’re giving away is what boomerangs back to knock you upside the head.
Among other things, this is just the gist. If you came over for coffee, I would tell you details until we’d burned the candle at both ends. I would tell you that next time I will spread the pouring over many more months and keep better care of my soul and better care of my family. I would also tell you that none of us would change what we learned from the flames we walked straight into and through. The specifics and space has already been redeemed, which means it wasn’t a mistake . . . but it won’t be repeated either.
Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul was written from my peeled knees, not from a place of arrival. I haven’t arrived. I’ll never arrive. My only destination is the process and so is yours. But sometimes we all need a little hand-holding and butt-nudging in our process; someone or something to come alongside us while we pick up our threads of soul discovery and travel from one dot and tittle to the next.
This is why I wrote: because I wanted to slide by your ribs and hold onto you, if you’d let me. Because I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t curious about their particular, as in: singular and unusual parts. We are all born with a longing to know who we are within this wide world–not just in general terms, but also in specific ways.
Who am I?
Why am I here?
The cardinals make it look so easy. The bees make it look so easy. The catfish and the black crow, the dairy cow and the cactus plant, make being created effortless. None of nature seems to struggle to know who they are or what to do with themselves.
Humanity is the exception to nature’s rule. We struggle and seek and ask our questions and if we’re lucky we wake up piecemeal over years to the knowledge of our indigenous selves. But more often than not, “The original shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out of all our other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.” ~Frederick Buechner
“I believe one of the central endeavors of the human experience is to consciously discover the intimacies of who we already are. As in: life is not about building an alternate name for ourselves; it’s about discovering the name we already have.
But how do we begin (or continue) the process of unearthing the truth of our intrinsic selves? Most people I know have intentionally invested in some form of self-discovery for some period of time. And yet, how many of us feel we could put language around the parameters of our uncommon inner workings? If I asked you to, could you raise your hand right now and say unequivocally, “This is who I am” or “I am this”?
I’m not talking about your ability to tell me what your job is or your confidence in saying “I am a child of God.” What I am asking is this: Within the framework of being a child of God, what part of God do you represent? Do you know where you begin and where you end? Do you know the here-to-here of your uniqueness? Do you know, as John Duns Scotus puts it, your unusual, individual “thisness”?” ~Bandersnatch
Who will care and who will lecture if you wander around a little bit every day to look for the unique twinkle of your own soul? Bandersnatch is about finding the elements, features, and aspects of yourself that allow you to design life with peculiar flair. It’s about being permissioned and invited to reimagine the approach to exploring and realizing personal identity, about embracing a deep-seated belief in your own rarity, about knowing your part in the great interlocking circle of contribution, an interlocking circle that mirrors the final face of glory—as opposed to the oppressive systems of humanity.
I didn’t write you a formulaic how-to book. Instead, I only offer you the fruit of my own bandersnatch adventures. I dove deep inside and dug up the truest parts and things and narratives I know and am giving them to you in a spirit of flow and fluidity—whirling, amoebic movement that I hope will inspire an original, organic, metamorphic process in you, a journey unique to you and your individual history, organisms, and experiences.
Now, here’s the hardest part for me:
If you are even a tiny bit interested or inquisitive; if Bandersnatch feels like it might be a fit for you, would you do me a heap of a favor and pre order it? Here’s a whole page of options for where to buy it. 😀 I just found out that you don’t actually get charged for the book until the day it leaves the warehouse for you front door! AND AND AND, you can send your purchase receipt to Kristi.Smith@HARPERCOLLINS.com and she’ll send you a PDF portion of the book in advance!
I’m told by the people who know publishing things that pre orders are so important for first-time authors because it determines how many books big vendors stock in preparation for release day on October 6! Not enough pre orders = not enough books. I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen–not because I’m concerned about the money, but because I couldn’t love my publishing peeps (I’m looking at you Matt, Adria, Lori, Kristi and Nicole) more than I do and I just want this little book and this little author they took a risk on to do well for them. And I want it to do a Kingdom kind of work too. That’s it.
Another way you could help is by sharing this blog post or my book page on your social media channels. I would be so tickled and grateful and honored, my friends. You are so dear and close to my heart.
Those people who know publishing things also tell me that I should find a few folk who are willing to join something official sounding – a launch team. I don’t even know what that means, but I have an assistant who does, and she created a Facebook group where she’ll post ideas and suggestions, and get ideas and suggestions from you, about how to make sure the people who are searching for certain words know that Bandersnatch is out there. If you’re at all interested in this, go here and click “join group.” Joy will share more information and details there soon.
All my love,
(Ooof! I’m glad that’s over! Just asking for favors makes me want to hide under all the stocked blankets at Bed Bath and Beyond.)