Growing in Spirit

I'm having a good time. Three of my four children are "home" at the moment. Zach and Hannah live in Atlanta, and Jason is visiting. We're catching up on movies and eating out and reminiscing, we're climbing Stone Mountain, going to the Georgia Aquarium and the new World of Coke (I have issues with the World of Coke, but now is not the time), and who knows what goes on after I go to bed at night. They are "out." Well, that's not entirely true.

Hannah is finishing up the semester at Oglethorpe -- she's pulling doubles between the duties of school and the pull of family/home right now. Zach, my DJ son, who lives two miles from us, is working at a local restaurant, but manages to scoop up his brother for late night... something. Drum and bass, for one thing. I'm trying to learn more about the origins of hip-hop and drum & bass and more, so I can have a conversation about it with Zach. Zach's into the beat. Jim, my husband, is into the melody, the harmonics, the instruments, the live musicians, as he is a jazz musician. So it's an interesting mix of musical stuff we have going in our house these days.

Over at the Book Tour Blog, I'm writing about the teaching of writing in elementary schools. Soon you'll be reading those sorts of posts here, too, as I phase out the Tour Blog and continue the conversation here at One Pomegranate. Lots of stories to tell. Lots of learning to do. I learned so much in November when I taught personal narrative writing at Canterbury Woods Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia. I'm still processing it.

Cookies aren't being baked, decorating lags behind, the tree isn't up yet, but that's okay. We're basking in one another's company, and that's the finest gift of the season.

What are you doing these days, as you speed toward the holidays and the end of the year? Are you writing? I know some writers who are busy at their desks, producing the next novel, the next essay, the next draft... I stand in awe. It's hard for me to focus on more than one happening at a time, always has been. I need to put all my energies toward family, or home, or the work-in-progress, or the move, or survival, or whatever is the most pressing notion at hand.

Right now, it's the notion of family gathered together. So the writing is waiting for my full attention, which it will have, soon. And I will go back to it with a full heart, richer for having given my full attentions to the folks who are inhabiting my mind and heart and home these days.

Time to throw another log on the fire, wash up last night's dishes, and get dressed for whatever the day brings. I think it's an act of courage to get up every morning. We never know what lies ahead. So maybe it's an act of faith as well.

I'm reading a lot about Bobby Kennedy right now. More about this soon -- but I want to leave you with something he said over and over again as he walked through the projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant, or the hollers of Appalachia, the streets of Watts, the halls of Congress: "We can do better."

I think about that with my teaching, my mothering, my writing, my learning, my living. It's not that I think I'm doing so badly these days in knowing how to live on the planet. It's that I know I can do better. And in that doing better, I grow as a human being. I become more than I am right now. That's what I want to do this holiday season. Grow. Become. Be.

Here's a poem I love by Cavafy. "Half the House" is the title:

He who hopes to grow in spirit
will have to transcend obedience and respect.
He will hold to some laws
but he will mostly violate
both law and custom, and go beyond
the established, inadequate norm.
Sensual pleasures will have much to teach him.
He will not be afraid of the destructive act:
half the house will have to come down.
This way he will grow virtuously into wisdom.


  1. Enjoy the time with your family. That's my favorite part about Christmas, too. We are all missing my mother this week, especially. It's good to gather together to celebrate happiness after a year full of sadness. Thanks again for Little Bird. Comfort has helped me through the year.

  2. I hope you have a joyous Christmas with your family around you, especially after all the traveling you did this fall. My daughter's family isn't coming here for Christmas. It is time they begin their own Christmas traditions. I hope to see them in the spring. My boys' class is enjoying Aurora Country All Stars. We're nearly finished. I know they won't want it to end. I love the new blog too. Glad you are keeping it up. Are you going to put in an NCTE proposal?


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