“James, a servant of God, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings.”
In seventh grade, I had to memorize an entire book of the Bible: the Book of James. This wasn’t a church project. This was a school project. I attended a private Christian school, and after years of daily Biblically-based education and single verse recitation, students like me entered Grade 7 with a certain amount of dread. James was waiting for us (the King James version of James), like so many diverse temptations, which, we were told by James in verse two, chapter one, right after the above salutation, we should count “all joy.”
[The blue bound Bible open on the sticky top of my desk; me rocking back and forth over the tiny print, repeating the words [[back]], repeating the words [[forth]], each and every chapter, chapter by chapter, repeating the words until I can say them without thinking, and then swiftly, before memory fades, up the Miss Haglund, my teacher, to recite a chapter, then another. Five chapters in all. So the weeks passed in seventh grade.]
At odd times snippets of that book come back to me. The oddest times really. Like tonight. “[T]o the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings.”
I’m thinking of my family as these words run through my head. So much to think about with them, so little of the life contained in this recent trip-of-a-lifetime that I have yet to consider, embrace, digest . . . you fill in the verb. I’m thinking of my friends here in the States, people I haven’t seen for a while and miss, and those newer friends in Guatemala and Belize, people I probably won’t see again for a while and already miss. We are scattered abroad now. I want to say a greeting.
Was it just 8 days ago that I slipped into the Caribbean Sea only to be lashed across the back of the thigh by a jelly fish? Yes. Was it only 7 days ago that I snorkeled with a sharks, stingrays, various gorgeous sea creatures, including a manatee? Yes. Was it only a few days ago–4 to be exact–that I said goodbye to my husband and son, and Central America, too, and flew back to the States to my daughter? Was it only day before yesterday that I drove my daughter to college for her sophomore year and helped her get settled? Was it only that same night that an angelic pit bull named Paloma refused to leave my bed and so I slept with her? Was it only last night that I was in a hotel in Columbus, ID, and tonight that I have arrived at in Tennessee, at a place called Rivendell for a writer’s residency? Yes yes yes yes yes—
My mind is a whirl. My body is discombobulated. My twelve tribes are scattered abroad. I am scattered abroad. And yet, here I am.
I have a room with many windows—room # 3, the Faulkner room—a beautiful view, a clawfoot bathtub that is calling my name. I have words to write and a way to find that I hope will lead to pages and there is no map at hand. Where are you? Wherever you are . . .