Skip to main content
turning a page



i don't know if anyone else out there is much of a journal-er, but i am. i have been ever since high school. sure, i've seen seasons of inactivity in my journaling just as i've had periods of writing everyday, or even more than once a day. but the big picture is that i have been keeping a journal for about the last 15 years, and i have thousands of pages to show for it.

journaling has certainly changed over time for me. as i go back and look at those first journals, when i was in high school, you will see that i was mostly writing about girl problems, you'll see trevor's name in there a great deal, and mia's. and once i got to college i wrote a bit more carefully, choosing words with a great deal of thought. i realize now that college was a really verbal time for me, a time in which i fell in love with words.

after college i didn't write so regularly for a long time until the last few years, really once i got into seminary and started opening up to the idea of image and word. then, the way i journaled changed completely. i began to write and collage in the pages of my journal. in short, i discovered my right brain.

anyway, i am finishing a journal today. if anyone journals alot, they can understand the significance of this moment: there is just something really satisfying about finishing a journal. i carry it with me almost everywhere i go, and it has been with me for quite a while. so, in a way, its like saying goodbye to a good friend. i've been flipping through those pages, and scratching out my inky ideas for so long that it feels connected to me, indelibly a part of me. so, on this day, i thought i would just give you a few samples of what i have written therein. by the way, the collage above is called 'almost there.'

may 2005
clang clang clang.
99 different soundwaves crashing,
climbing in my brain.

june 2005
i know if feels like these words are weapons
and sometimes they'll cut your heart,
but its something that we're speaking the same language
seems to me a good place to start.

october 2005
so i wander around the wasteland of my mind, looking here and there for a thought or two...
nope, can't find any. oh well. guess i'll write anyway....

words -
so many shaped sounds
splashed and scarred on the walls,
machine gun shot in any direction,
shown by empty shells on the ground.
but this, this is more than random acts of fear.
this is the poetry,
the words of God;
the scrape of bow and string,
the golden horizon burst by the rising sun.

november 2005
its autumn. the terrain is splotched with color. orange is the new green. even underfoot its a crunchy caliope of color. ahhh, autumn. and today is vintage fall: crisp air, bright blue sky fully decorated with hanging half-moon, blustery with little dost of color randomly flying around. its perfect: my favorite time of year. its good to be alive.

i am covered in things
suffocated and stuffed
i am dollar bill flat
under the weight of so much stuff.
i am surrounded by
neckties and cds,
choking on kitsch.
i am trapped by my possessions,
but even more perplexed
by my desire for more.
my list grows longer
as my heart grows emptier
and my house grows stuffier.

december 2005
advent,
a new and colder dawn. crisp pink heaven hangs over my horizon.
even here. even now there is a new and better chance
for starting over,
for waiting, watching.
good lord, what are we waiting for?
when my ears and clogged with digital noise
and my eyes are covered in an assault of color,
you appear in the shadows
under this advent. shhh...
i begin to see
scratched out on a pink canvas
your whisper becomes clear -
a glimmer of hope!
there is something here
worth hearing:
under the heavens and before the horizon
is advent,
a new and sweeter dawn.

on my way to new york city on the train:
its morning. there is still snow between all the tracks, making them appear to me like a kind of black and white ladder to the city. clack clack clack! there are noises and vibrations everywhere! its a very noisy climb to new york. but i sit still, in a northeasterly direction, watching the jersey towns go flying by, all stained by industry, colored by graffiti, and transformed by ethnic and economic diversity. its a sociological ride, this one, through suburb and urban flight and ghetto. still clacking, there are still more bricks, more doors, more windows, more...just more. i thank you, God, for this amazing world, and i am sorry for how we have bullied it around into edifice and orafice. we have built beyond babel. confused construction can only conclude in collapse. clack clack clack.

december is dwindling away. the air is laden with consonants, and as i trudge through, i am nearly drowned in long and short vowel sounds. syncopated syllables are situated between every silence. with all these words we swim in, its hard to find any splendor. stuck in all this nonsensical sound, we choke for too many words shoved in our ears. are there any beautiful words left to say? is there something profound that's still worth saying? or does something bear repeating? like, "love on another..."

january 2006
time. i don't know if its cogs and springs or a moving stream, rapid in rough in some spots, spilling over softened rocks, and still and steady, almost stagnant in certain others. or maybe its more like a balled-up peice of paper, wrinkled and full of odd shaped spaces. i know it is there - i can feel its movement like the wind. but i don't know where it goes or how quickly. i don't sense its shape, or how it fits in this space. it seriously seems fluid, waving and fluctuating, with ebb and flow. some days its a storm: a war on me. but others it is only a cool breeze, and sometimes so still you want to shake it loose from the trees like a stray kitten. yes. i want to shake time. i want to wrestle with it, wander through its wrinkles, float on its flow, feel its force on my face. if i have time, i will do this and more.

okay. that's enough. welcome to my life and my heart. i've got to go shake time out of the trees and start a new journal! talk to you soon!

almost there,
greg.





Comments

joe said…
what a talent, insight, and, blessing with words you have. my aramis...

congrats on the new baby bud!!

was that monica i see posted there? holy crow, blasts from the past indeed! so very cool
Libby Beaty said…
Greg, it's great reading your blog. I found Monica and Joel through your site and then just saw Joe's post on here too! How fun to connect after SO long! Do you have Joe's e-mail address?

It's great seeing your collages too. Didn't know you had that artsy side. Fun to see.

Ok...blessings, Libby

Oh yeah...thanks for posting on my blog too. :) www.xanga.com/libbybeaty
cathyQ said…
Greg,

You truly are gifted with words. I also find comfort in words and writing, particulary when I am experiencing great pain or joy. Words envelope me and let me "get it all out" without huring anyone. Writing is cathartic in a way that nothing else can be. The anonymity of it all is soothing. I am reminded of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's great eulogistic poem "In Memmoriam" in which he writes "in words like weeds I'll wrap me oer." I often feel like I can wrap myself up in words that can protect me from my grief, my anger, and or my frustration. Truly, words are the writers palette, and you the artist can illustrate beautifully with them. Journaling has not been something that I've been able to do on any kind of regualar basis; however, I see the value in it, and I am jealous because I have to say that I have never filled an entire journal. I have a half dozen of them partially filled. So, congrats on a filled journal, and I hope you find a new one that quickly becomes as homey and familiar as the old one.

love,

mom
Crafty P said…
you know I've always enjoyed your writing.

a few things that came to my mind while reading this post:

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (can't wait to dig this out in a few weeks- it's in the Christmas book box)
--Madeleine L'Engle- Walking on Water- which I've never read but have always wanted to
--Fredrick Buechner
--Linford Dietweiler

so there. I believe you have a connection to many of those as well.

ps. maybe shannon will post soon?
greg. said…
joe -

so good to hear from you! thanks for the congrats. we are excited about our coming child, our hope and expectation.

let's chat - i would love to catch up with you!

greg.
greg. said…
libby - i didn't know i had an artsy side either until i discovered my right brain sometime after college. its been a fun journey of discovery. it feels very liberating, to be honest. i remember that you were really good at drawing and painting in high school. is that something you still do?
greg. said…
mom - thanks for your kind words. i love the tennyson quote. i totally agree about the cathartic quality of writing. i sometimes like words as tools, using them in a way to construct how i feel or what i am thinking. but i also enjoy them as toys, using them in wordplay, placing them next to each other in unusual ways and seeing what i might be able to say.

shannon is the same way with journals - she starts but doesn't finish. i just haven't been able to stop journaling. even when i've gone through seasons where i haven't written, i always find my way back. its just a part of me.

looking forward to seeing you in a couple of days!

greg.
greg. said…
christina - wow! buechner and detweiler? that's big company and praise that i don't deserve. but, i am honored. thank you. buechner is a kind of hero and certainly an inspiration. as is linford. you mentioned l'engle's book "walking on water," and it is just incredible in terms of discussing art and faith. its been a rich resource for me in my journey. i plan on posting about it sometime in the future, in regards to her ideas about chaos/cosmos. more on that later.

as far as shannon is concerned, i have asked her to comment, but so far she has remained in the shadows, somewhat shy. maybe if we ask her nicely enough, she will emerge and tell the truth about me!

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).

i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i…