After learning about light refraction by bouncing sunshine off of shiny plastic library book covers and chasing one another’s squares on the elevated ceilings, I told first graders that they could add that to their bag of tricks. Several looked at me as though I’d gone a bit daft and one patiently said “We don’t have a bag of tricks!” “Ah, but you do! We all do!!” was my reply. This began a whole conversation about what each of us carries in our bag of tricks…and if it was an actual bag, what would the bag look like for each of them? Soft and floppy? Lots of zippers? What color? What material? Everybody’s bag is different, and the tricks inside are different too.
This came back to me this morning as I was getting ready to head out into the day. I had a speech tournament to attend but was leaving early enough to stop, have a latte, and write a bit first. Into the bag went my standard two notebooks that are always with me. Then the journal. Pencil/pen pouch. Wallet. Small pouch of whatnot…lip balm, bandaids, post-its, a couple twisties and paperclips, a rubber band or two, a small tin of mints. Then, the book decision. What book? What book I may or may not read, but would be good company? I was headed to a speech tournament! Was I going to be reading while I judged? No. While I drove? No. Yet, the decision was an important one. I selected Pablo Neruda’s Antología Fundamental and tucked it in carefully. Not too big or too heavy, a diverse assortment of his writings, something for every mood, and good memories associated with the purchase of the book.
Often when I begin a day’s entry, I will describe the setting where I am as I write. Today’s begins like this...On the third tier of P, a large, welcome latte in hand. It is a misty gray morning today and I find myself welcoming it…no, that is not quite right. I feel welcomed BY it. It is inviting me to something. It is a day for roaming. For roaming and finding a small hole in the wall, tucking into a corner and opening the satchel, the ever present, satchel of essentials, and bringing something new into being. Again, no…it isn’t as though what I carry is exactly essential…it is more the opening of the bag of tricks and good company…
Yes, one of my “tricks” is writing…it is something I bring with me everywhere and can use for the good of many or offer in service in one way or another. There is such creative power in Word and some of that lives in the notebooks of my satchel. There is potential in a twistie–I’ve used them a surprising number of times to solve problems of one sort or another. And Pablo Neruda is Quite Good Company…engaging, relaxing, transporting, personal, conversational.
But, whatever creative inspiration that leads to Word being spoken through me and onto the page does not begin with me…nor does it live solely on the page. The inspiration begins with the Spirit, begins with God, begins in the Heart. And God is exceptionally good company.
When we add things to our bag of tricks, we add them to our beings-to who we are and what we can offer in the service of a greater good… And each bag is beautifully unique.
Mark Strand has a brief four line poem that touches me deeply– “We all have reasons / for moving. / I move/ to keep things whole.”
I think somewhere in there is why today brought together the idea of roaming and bringing what is in my bag of tricks and good company…which is a bag and is also the self. In the roaming there is learning-seeing-doing-in the company of others and in the learning-seeing-doing in the company of others there is growing and in the growing there is more to share and the more that is shared, the more is received and the more received, the more whole we become…that we might give All.