Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Friday’s Fireside Room
by Sylvia Bailin
This morning, I rose out of the sweet comfort of sleep enveloped in a warm blanket of gratitude. It was for this Friday group of writers.
We meet in the cozy Fireside Room, separated only by folding doors from the church sanctuary, with its lofty ceiling, towering cross and Bibles. The Room is a library where the word is revered. The nearby Oxford English Dictionary is the arbiter of occasional word questions, our Bible of sorts. Here a group of friends-writers hone their craft and snuggle together in a tight circle.
The Fireside Room is an extension of the sanctuary but on a more earthly plane. Cushioned in safety, we can set out some innermost part of our unique history. At our own pace, from our own place.
From our particular mine, we can dig as deep as we're able at the time. We can haul up whatever ore we choose to sift out and refine, selecting those bits that will burn bright. It doesn't matter which shaft we've chosen; they are all formed from our own distinct perceptions. It is that specific piece of ourselves we dare share.
We've all witnessed this process. It requires courage. First, the risk of digging around where some memory was laid to rest, hidden away from the daylight of pain. Then—surprise!—perhaps recognizing that this particular agony was not dimmed by the dust of time.
Second, bringing pieces up in the cage to the surface to objectively select those fragments that will fuel our stories.
Third, presenting your memoir for all to see, to judge. Kind as we are, here is the risk of the group's not understanding, of you "hanging in the wind." Some of us are more fragile than others and "critique" can feel like "attack." It takes courage to just listen and refrain from defensiveness or withdrawal. I admire those who, time after time, scrape away their scars to lay bare their wounds.
It helps to remember that the reward at the end of this process is a new objectivity and a recognition that the miner has survived.
It's fitting that we meet in a sanctuary. My Webster Bible defines sanctuary as "a sacred and inviolable asylum, a place of refuge."
Sylvia Bailin is a retired public school teacher and a chamber music 'cellist now living in Santa Rosa. She enjoys a 66 year-old marriage and three adult children.
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