Nano Update

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I took a field trip today and went to my first write-in, met another writer, a lovely woman working on her novel. She led me in twenty minute writing spurts over an hour and a half, which was great; I got a lot done: over 1700 words!

My total for this year’s Nano so far is 2334, which isn’t good, but it’s two thousand more words than I had on November 1st, so tally ho!

Every day is a new day to start again.

Incense

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This was in response to a free write for the prompt scent in the theme of comfort. In other words, write about a scent that gives you comfort.

​I would not have expected to be writing about incense being a comforting scent. I was never a fan of incense. Perhaps, it was the specific scents that I was exposed to. Perhaps, it was Allan, who lived across the hall from me in my first year in college who used it to mask his pot smoking. At the time, I was so naive that I didn’t realize that’s what it was for. I thought he was just kind of dopey and laid back, and the incense was just him being a late blooming hippie.

Either way, the smell of it was enough to put me off both pot and incense.

When I visited church for the first time that they used incense was probably around Advent, maybe Christmas Eve. I remember the sounds of that day more than I remember the smells. Our music director is an amazing musician, and it is a joy to listen to his carols before the Christmas Eve Mass. I don’t know if there was incense that night, but I know that it’s been there as the liturgical season warranted.

Every Tuesday, the Host is incensed and a hymn is sung before adoration. I try to watch the smoke rise until it dissipates on its way to the skylight. I try ot make sense of the shapes it makes and the directions it flows in, but usually it just goes, and I continue to meditate on it.

After the Mass of Christian burial, the casket is incensed on its way out of the church to the burial or interment. 

The incense is carried in a bowl through the church during the Sunday procession during Lent. I know it is offered up with a solemn hymn that just touches me deeply. The whole process of the incense rising, the low singing of the prayer, the hush that falls over everything. It is very similar at Advent.

During one of the RCIA rites, I was standing in the back with the other catechumens while we waited together for our time to bring our oils to the altar. It may have been the rite of welcome, or perhaps, during the Holy Thursday Mass. I can’t remember at the moment, but I do remember looking to the front of the church where the incense was being carried, and i distinctly saw the smoke rise and form the shape of a Jewish Star of David. It was one of many signs that I received that I was making the right decision to go down the path of conversion.

While at first, the smell bothered me, the more I became engrossed in the Catholic liturgy and ritual, the more comfortable I became with the scents and the smells of the church and the incense.

I would not expect it during a service, and then I would smell it, and a warmth would come over me, a comfort, and it reminded me of what I found in the church, but not so much in the building but in the pews.

As we are often told, we are the church, and I find a small part of myself floating through the air along with the incense.

Joy

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It’s a little bit funny that joy is the first prompt of this season’s memoir writing free-write. I am in  the middle of reading both James Martin’s book, Between Heaven & Mirth and Pope Francis’ most recent exhortation, The Joy of Love. I swear if he uses the word conjugal one more time, I will throw my Kindle from a window.

Joy is one of those words that I look at as somewhat old-fashioned. I can be happy, fun, excited, well, good, but joy sounds like it means harp-playing angels and arrow-twanging cupids.

There are also certain words that I hear in certain voices and joy is one of them. Whenever I hear the word joy in my head, it is in Mira Furlan’s voice. She is a Czech actress who played the Minbari ambassador in the Babylon 5 television series. There’s nothing particularly special about the way she says it, but it’s been the way I hear that word since her narration of the opening. Without knowing it, she layers it with context, emotion, and meaning. My priest always welcomes new people with “great joy” and the first time he said it I flashed to the sound of Mira’s voice from twenty-five or so years ago.

Despite my current readings, I am neither joyful nor mirthful. I’m subdued, and joy is not subdued. I think joy happens in retrospect; as a memory of something too wonderful for mere words.

Joy is substance, joy is flavor, joy is the smell of rain, and the tweet of the 5am birdies. It’s the glow of the moon on my face or my hand when I reach towards the window in the night. Joy is your sleeping child or running unexpectedly into a friend during errands. Joy is my lilac tree in the yard and the smell of hyacinth.

Where do you find your joy?

Prompt – Joy

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This was supposed to be posted on Friday, but with Prince’s unexpected death and the beginning of Passover, I delayed it until this morning. Future prompts will appear on Fridays.

Now that my writing class has started up again, I’m going to share our prompts with you and hopefully encourage you to do your own free writes. Remember that free writes are ten to fifteen minutes of stream of consciousness writing related to the prompt. I sometimes call it spewing. We all have our words for things.

The class is six weeks, but with homework this prompt exercise should go on for about twelve weeks.

Share your writings by linking them in the comments.

Our theme for these next few weeks is Emotions.

Today’s prompt begins with Joy.

Have fun!