Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Source

Jean de Florette, a brilliant French novel by Marcel Pagnol, tells the ultimately tragic story of the title character, a newcomer to Provence. Jean arrives in Provence eager to succeed as a gentleman farmer, but is foiled by two supposed friends who have blocked the spring that waters his arid land.

Rent the movie. Watch it and its sequel, Manon of the Spring, but be sure to pour yourself a tall glass of ice water before you do. There is nothing like the sight of brown dust, the sound of dried corn leaves crinkling in calloused hands, to work up a healthy thirst.

The image of Jean de Florette has rested with me for many years, a man defeated by lack of water and lack of hope. I picture a Togolese woman at the village well, hauling up gourds of water, hand over hand, 10 gourds to fill a basin, 20 basins to fill a barrel. A sheen of sweat rises on her forehead, glistening like stars against her dark skin in the heat of the morning sun. She balances the water atop her head and heads for home, careful not to spill a drop, knowing her precious load will not last. She must return for more this evening, and the next day...and the next.

No wonder the Samaritan woman perked up when Jesus offered her water that would never run dry.

No wonder David thirsted for water from the well near the gate of his hometown.

No wonder Solomon spoke of his lover as a well of flowing water, a high compliment in a thirsty land.

Meet me at the well, walk with me besides the quiet water and let your soul be restored.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


I can't tell you how many times in the past months I've sat down to write and found myself with nothing to say. If you want to know the truth, I've lost my drive since I lost my audience.

One of the first things you learn when you write for others is how important it is to identify your audience. Who is the one person you are writing for? I had a vague picture of my audience until she was gone.

Mom was the one who always read my blog first. Whenever she turned on her computer, my blog popped up automatically. And she was more likely than not to leave a comment either on the blog or in conversation throughout the day. She came to my writing groups, often with her own writing in hand. Precious pieces of manuscript lay in my file drawer, pieces I labored over to make as good as I could get them--pieces with handwritten notes from Mom that read, "Practically perfect, just like always," and "I love you. -Mom B"

So, who do I write for now? Who is that person who wants to hear what I have to say? Or maybe the question is, "How could anyone ever fill the place of Mom?"