When a writer writes, what is produced is not wholly subject to the perceived presence of the muse, nor whether there is a physical or emotional urge to sit and do it, however, it does depend largely on the level of self-discipline with which we approach our craft. For many, it is the regimented schedule of rising with the chickens and downing that first pot of coffee before thoughts begin to flow. For others, the owl keeps us company with its incessant critiquing and questioning of our work, our worth and at times our very sanity! In addition to our discipline, I bear witness to the malady that ‘surroundings’ profoundly influence what flows through the hands from the heart.

I am sitting here with the door of my little guest-house open, enjoying the coolness of the breeze and peering along the stone pathway leading out among the cedar trees to an isolated road in the Pacific Northwest. I have been both fortunate and blessed to escape to this retreat – if only briefly – many times over the years to work on technical, scientific and creative writing projects. It is not a misunderstanding on my part, nor an exaggeration of the frequently misused descriptor to say that I truly ‘love’ it here. There is a sense of calm, a sense of beauty, a sense of serenity. Thoughts flow like a brook among the cobblestones of tranquility. Here, I have peace.

Although I never cease to be amazed; always, with this outer peace comes inner turmoil, relentless in its drubbing, and I am astonished every time! I sit, walk and rest amid the majesty of God’s creation, and feel such inner longing, loss, and deep sorrow for my daughters, my family, for my love, and battle with my inner demons and the perceived accompanying chaos of failure – or is it success?

This time tomorrow, I will be back on the dirty, grimy streets of San Francisco surrounded by the ever-growing population of those who are mentally ill, and the drug-addicted, and whose desperation, for which there seems no obvious relief, touches me… These past days, a memory. And as I write and pray, a different kind of inspiration will overcome me.

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