The Shadow of Death and other stories

In the tender compassion of our God,
the dawn from on high shall break upon us
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
and to guide our feet into the way of peace. —Luke 1:78-79

I have never gotten tired of those verses. They are part of Lauds (morning prayer), and every day they offer peace to me.

* * *

Downtown Bellingham has a slightly creepy feel. I felt it this morning, wandering around in the early hours, looking (apparently I can't follow directions) for the café where I'd promised to meet Jana and Annie for a write-in. Two older men approached me, separately, both strangers. One wanted cash for bus fare. The other just wanted to talk, and started in on yesterday's news. I could hear the accusation in his voice. "Terrible thing to do, hitting and killing a little kid—"

"It was an accident," I said, and walked away.

* * *

Not that I was a firsthand observer; all I know is that a seventeen-year-old Bellingham High student is living my worst nightmare. She didn't see the car stopping ahead of her, letting the family cross, and her car knocked the other into the mother and child. The police, having first arrested her, released her by the end of the day. Getting distracted while driving is bad, but what driver hasn't done it? She's not a monster. She's human, and sometimes human mistakes and failures and wrongs cost far too much. The thought haunts me like almost nothing else in life.

And the young woman driving the other car—she did nothing wrong, but I'm sure her thoughts consist of an if only mantra. If only I hadn't stopped. If only I had stopped a little further back. If only I had been anywhere else.

My dad, for many years a volunteer fire fighter and EMT, has had the experience of going on calls where children have died. I know what the emergency responders and police are dealing with.

Our pastor came back from out of town to be here for the toddler's family; they're part of our church. I don't know the family, but I know who they are, and theirs is a nightmare I can't even imagine. There can be healing after such a loss, but no getting over it. Lord, have mercy.

If you pray, will you offer one up for those living in the shadow of death?

* * *

My town is having a lousy week. WWU freshman Dwight Clark disappeared last Sunday, last seen at a party on Indian Street. He's a straight-A honors student from Auburn with no history of either depression or disappearing, as I understand it. Just—gone. Another family in the shadow of death.

* * *

All this makes the few privations of my week seem awfully small. I'm forgetful and overtired due to much busyness, but that's perfectly bearable. Apart from that, I've actually had a great week: Maia is better, and Lou and I spent a hilarious and happy last weekend with his parents, his sisters Jen and Marie, and Andy and Lindsey and John. We had dinner together every night and twice played a game that had us laughing till it hurt.

* * *

Congratulations are in order for Marie, who ran the Bellingham Bay marathon—her first—in just under 5 1/2 hours! We all got to meet her at the finish line, waving signs and cheering. We had a blast, and running 26.2 miles is an amazing achievement. Way to go, sister! :)

* * *

Jana, Annie, Jessi and I—my writers' group—have decided to get together for regular early mornings of writing. (Don't worry, Mom. I know where the café is now, and shouldn't need to wander downtown again.) It felt great to spend an hour with them today: a cappucino, a little ambience, beautiful music playing in the background, three good friends with me. I got several pages of revision done in just over an hour.

We've also basically promised each other to take part in NaNoWriMo this year, so I'll be updating my account when the site resets today or tomorrow. Are you taking part? Come be my writing buddy. :)

* * *

Helpful link of the week: Jennifer Fulwiler with a post about organization, time management, guilt, and finding energy. I found it completely applicable even though I don't have children.

* * *

Writer's link of the week: Jacqueline West in the "Seven Things I've Learned So Far" feature of Guide to Literary Agents. Number 4 really got to me. I already know that feeling of having a lot of imaginary (or potentially real) people hanging over my shoulder as I write. The idea that no one will ever read the book if I don't want them to is awfully freeing.

...but don't worry—I want people to read it. Eventually. :)

* * *

Funny of the week: I don't remember how I came across The Nerd in the Corner, but every now and then I have to visit her blog. She doesn't post very often, but nearly everything she writes makes me laugh. This piece... well, guilty as I feel linking to someone's embarrassing moment story, she's the one who put it online. :P As with The Princess Bride, I won't say how funny I found it... aw, heck, maybe I will. I'm pretty sure it had me in tears of laughter. It sounds like something I could have done, if I had ever watched the Dukes.

* * *

Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked. —Song of Songs 8:7

Happy feast day, Little Flower! Pray for us.

* * *

Lou and I are going to try and have a quiet weekend (of course, I've got Monday's post to write, an overview of Deathly Hallows chapter 34 (for The Hog's Head's read-through) to work up, a novel to revise... I won't be bored.) In other points of interest, I made dinner for three former monastic novices tonight; also, the inevitable has happened: Maia has learned that she can jump up on the kitchen counter and climb bookshelves.

Happy weekend, everybody.


  1. Jenna,
    The NaNoWriMo interests me. About how many hours did you spend doing that last year?

  2. Hmmm... I'm not sure. Probably 2-3 hours a day on average. But I tended to self-edit somewhat, which was not the idea. :)

    I've heard people advise writing in several short shifts over the course of a workday, if that helps.


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