1 The guide to adventure, travel and writing - www.colleenfriesen.com/blog - Part 848

What Would Moses Do?


Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Moses –  Rembrandt  (Wikipedia)


“There is a lovely Talmudic story that when the the Children of Israel reached the Red Sea, and Moses struck his staff on the shore, the waters of the sea did not part to let them through. The Israelites stood there at the edge of the water and nothing happened until one of the men plunged in. Then the waters rolled back.” - from A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Many, many years ago I went to a Quaker Meeting. I followed the directions to a remote home in the dripping cedary woods of Roberts Creek. There were only two other people in the house. She was named Hillary. He was named Clinton. I did not catch the irony of that combo until I got home to tell Kevin and Cory about my first, and so far, last, Quaker meeting. I had been hoping for a little more annonymity, a way of absorbing silence and energy while being lost in a group. Yes, well…another time perhaps.

I’m sure most people would describe me as an extrovert. This might even be true. But I also crave silence.  More and more I am drawn to cave time, meditation, time alone with my thoughts, quietude where I can reflect and ponder.

Which, rather ironically, brings me to MeetUp groups.  I just came back from my second Friday MeetUp at The Grind. We meet in the back of the coffee shop near Main Street and King Edward.  I don’t remember many of the names…maybe a Linda, perhaps a Jean or Jan?

But here’s what I love:

We meet at 9:30. We sit with our laptops, our notes, our pens and our coffees and write. There is no chatter. There is nothing but the steady buzz of the other conversations from the front of the cafe, the background of classical music, the smell of coffee and the ting of the occasional fork against a plate. At 11:30, it’s over. I say thank you and leave.

Best of all, I am there in a blocked out space of time.  I have finally plunged into that frothing sea of avoidance that had seemed impassable. It has parted. I am writing again.

It is divine.


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” - Lao Tzu


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Broken Light



Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That’s how the light gets in.

  – Leonard Cohen


Golden Repair

Photo credit: Unknown



“Suddenly I stopped, because I realized what my subconscious mind was doing while I was sobbing: my subconscious mind was busy working out a novel about failure.” – excerpt from A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Last week I told my husband about some of the comforting calls and emails I had received in response to my angst-filled post bemoaning all my good fortune. That post, about my twisted response to good news, stands as sufficient evidence as to the correctness of my husband’s rejoinder,

“Don’t they know,” he said, not at all unkindly, “that all writers are screwed up?”

We both laughed (one of us a tad more maniacally than the other).

I will allow Madeleine L’Engle to reply, “I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their validity, no matter what.” 




I have always been a fan of wabi-sabi. Not only because I love the rhythmic loveliness of that glorious word combination, but also because of the lushness of its meaning; how it holds imperfection and transience as part of what makes something beautiful.

And now I’ve discovered kintsugi or kintsukuroi  – the Japanese art of mending what is broken by fusing it with a mixture of resin and gold, resulting in a scarred and deeper beauty.

I am beginning to believe the Japanese have the best words for everything.

But more than that, I fully embrace this world view of perfect imperfection in all its ephemeral beauty.

Life, in all its forms, is flawed and fleeting. Isn’t that precisely why we hold it so dear?

Madeleine L’Engle should have the final word:

“What is mental health, anyhow? If we were all what is generally thought of as mentally healthy, I have a terrible fear that we’d all be alike…I can’t think of one great human being in the arts, or in history generally, who conformed, who succeeded, as educational experts tell us children must succeed, with his peer group…If we ever, God forbid, manage to make each child succeed with his peer group, we will produce a race of bland and faceless nonentities, and all poetry and mystery will vanish from the face of the earth.” 




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