The Magnificence Challenge

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Christ / Course Ideas / Poetry

When I saw Linda’s Magnificence Challenge it gave me a moment of pause to think about how I might answer it, but it did not take long for me to recall a favorite quotation of mine I thought might get the ball rolling: “You are the work of God, and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is.”

The truth of the matter is that when we doubt our given nature, we suffer, and I think it is particularly important given the pace and scale of changes in the world these days, to learn that each of us is indeed the seat of magnificence—of holiness and peace. There is something alive within all of us that we can count on, draw upon, and rest within. Something we can share, and grow, and discover. But even as this is true for each of us, we each remain unique, and part of Linda’s challenge is to express in some way what is uniquely “me” I think.

One expression I’m excited about is my second poetry book. After receipt of the proof copy later this week, it should be available in pretty short order from Lulu, and then from other on-line venues in time. Writing this sort of poetry has been a venue for me to rediscover a form of self-expression I had set aside for quite some time, and also where I took a little bit of a gamble—at least so it felt—in writing about this character Hafiz. It just kind of happened. I don’t attribute any real special meaning to it, other than it was one way of giving expression to things that I felt, and somehow it really helped having that fun-loving, deep as a river companion alongside me with whom to explore my heart. It was quite simply fun, and led to discovering relationships with many of you here, which has been deeply rewarding. I don’t know what I would have written about the last couple years without such a muse and companion!

bookcover_mlm

This has now given way to a rekindled desire to write in other forms, and this year I’ve been focusing on writing short stories. So I’ve been just as busily writing as years’ past, and have (mostly) completed six stories since I began in April—mostly, because editing is never truly over–but because I’ve been submitting work for publication in literary journals I cannot publish them here. (If anyone would like to read one of the drafts I’ve written I’d be happy to send you one off-line, just drop me a note or let me know in the comments.) I think what I’m doing is working on a collection of stories that approach the subject of grace, and how it illumines our lives, but we’ll see if I can keep the theme going for an entire collection!

An exciting moment occurred for me this fall when I found out the first story I wrote this year, which I began while seated in an aiport back in April, was awarded Honorable Mention in the New Letters Magazine Prize for Fiction. The Honorable Mention isn’t automatically published so it is not in print yet, but it was a wonderful validation of the direction in which I’d set off. I chose to work on short stories because I felt intuitively it would help me to develop my skills as a writer and I think that is proving true. It is intensely challenging to write. As evidence I also have to my credit over fifteen rejections this year and counting, so pursuit of the craft has been exquisitely humbling and rewarding all at once. The more I engage with the sheer difficulty of it the more impressed I become with every single thing I read. I can no longer read reviews on Goodreads because the ease with which people are able to comment with such casual criticism on work that takes months and months and even years to produce is astonishing. It’s amazing!

Writing has been a great teacher this year because I have been up and down and all over the map about it, without any real recourse to getting a grip at times, but also have experienced directly through its practice a few of those moments of grace. In fact it has required that I keep going despite the usual arsenal of thoughts about whether it is or isn’t going well, and at the end of the day through any committed practice I think we realize: what we do can never provide us with the magnificence we are. It can only reveal it. It’s already in there. Often it is ourselves who are most in need of this discovery, and somehow we must engage with something to act as a catalyst for this cracking open. We have to find our way to the sweet spot of not trying too hard or denying what we have been given, while simultaneously making the honest effort all the same. It’s called surrender I think. Creative endeavors are forays into the unknown and we just can’t control them. It is only when the control is relinquished that what is truly magnificent within us can step forward.

When we discover this sensation of surrender, then the magnificence in each of us is revealed, and the whole world is transformed, as one by one our hearts activate. I’m grateful Linda offered this challenge and grateful to have given it a go. I do hope you will consider checking out the new poetry book when it is released as I think it has its moments—moments I could never have anticipated that somehow matter. In one’s magnificence we see everyone’s, and this is why it is so important that we make the effort to reveal the truth of who we are. Thank you for being part of this journey with me.

Peace to each you…

56 Comments

  1. Pingback: Celebrate Your Magnificence And More – litebeing chronicles

  2. Kudos on your new poetry book and unfolding stories of grace. I love your perspective on magnificence as what is revealed when we surrender, create and step into the unknown. Thank you Michael for sharing your grace and insights.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Brad. Much appreciated. Magnificence can be a challenging topic, but I think when we realize it is also natural, and there to be discovered in each one of us, it changes the game. Specialness is left by the wayside, and whatever it is that remains, we may as well call magnificence!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on the new book and the honorable mention, and thank you for sharing your perspective about this process of surrender here.

    “We have to find our way to the sweet spot of not trying too hard or denying what we have been given, while simultaneously making the honest effort all the same. It’s called surrender I think.”
    I resonate with that. It is wonderful and inspiring to see that you have the courage to push yourself forward through all the difficulties of this process.
    I wish you much success for your path.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Karin. It is fun to scramble around on this mountain of what already is and discover some new views. The best thing is when we inspire each other, and I can say that is a very mutual feeling. I think true inspiration is a reminder of that magnificence already within us, and that we share.

      With Gratitude
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have tears in my eyes Michael. Truly, I do, and I’d love to read any short stories you have, you have my email still I hope and when the book comes out, I shall send you a check (for the book and shipping cost) as I would like an autographed copy from one of my favorite people in the whole wide universe. oh, yes, literal tears, true happiness is bursting me at the seams. A beautiful cover too. Was the last one thru Lulu? What a great way to kick start another amazing day in the awesome life my friend. So proud, so inspired and again, sooooooooo happy for you!!!! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kim your own magnificence and loving heart shines through here. Thanks so much for your friendship and support my friend! Will reach out to you shortly, and the book is now available as of today! I’ll get one going and sent out to you soon…

      So grateful and appreciative–
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • Let me know the amount and I’ll jot out a check. I am sooooo happy, what splendid news my friend. I’m in Florida now so don’t send to old address…..will email the new one and please, allow me to buy it. Even authors need to make their money 🙂 I think Hafiz just pinched me….darn, getting all giddy and excited. I shall partake of a glass of prosecco tonight and toast to this amazing news. Will also do a blog out to support you to, YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thankyou for surrendering to your magnificence and allowing it to flow into your writing, your beautiful heartwarming poetry and resonate with the magnificence in the world that is expanding more and more on Earth each moment… I’ll keep an eye out for your book Michael. X love to you x barbara

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Barbara for your kind words and joyous presence here again! I will check in soon on your latest creative adventures, too. (I believe as of today the book is up at least on Lulu, but will take several weeks for other venues…)

      With Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kristina. I’ll mark you down for one! I appreciate your kind words, as it does indeed take a little perspicacity there in the mix to convert ideas into a tangible form. In all that we do.

      Peace, my friend–
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ellen. I appreciate your taking the time to visit here, and hope you are doing well. We’ve just had a rainstorm like the one I just read about on your site–a tree down in the driveway, rain loud enough to wake me in the night. Almost. I turned over and mumbled, anyway. 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “We have to find our way to the sweet spot of not trying too hard or denying what we have been given, while simultaneously making the honest effort all the same.” – this seems so very insightful, Michael, I must say. It’s something I, and so many I know too, have struggled with down through the years. It dawned on me one day that the seeker construct had to dissolve, but oh the looks of disdain that came when mouthing such thoughts to fellow seekers! 😮 You’re a fabulous prose writer, as I’ve often said here, so your award comes as no surprise, and one suspects it may be the first of several. Mind you, I read just yesterday in The Guardian that the average income of professional authors here in the U.K. is a paltry £12,500 – so don’t give up the day job just yet, my friend! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Hariod,

      Thank you for the support and enthusiasm, and for sharing in the insight that comes of realizing sometimes we’ve got to break ranks with the convention to move into new territory. The truth is it is hard to imagine myself becoming a full time writer–if that means writing as much of the day as I otherwise spend on my day job. It seems I’m writing even when I’m doing other things, and I can only achieve a few hours a day of actual writing. It needs room to breath or something. But it is at the same time now an indispensable facet of my human experience, which I wouldn’t wish to approach with any effort but the utmost I can muster… One of those paradoxes I guess!

      With Love
      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

      • Sometimes we observe ourselves hanging in the balance, unsure which way the scales will tip. I underwent something very much like that with my business interests, sensing my need to move away, but not being ready to make it happen, not being sufficiently courageous, in truth. I was sort of willing that there be a decisive factor come along from outside, like some sort of validation for the decision, or imposed reason. I seized on the first thing that looked even like a pale imitation of any such thing, and never looked back. It cost me a lot financially, but I don’t know if I’d be here today if I’d stayed where I was – untangle those mixed metaphors at your leisure!

        With love returned,

        Hariod.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Pingback: Magnificence in Motion ~ I AM THAT I AM – litebeing chronicles

  8. Hey Michael,

    Thank you for sharing your gift of prose in this splendid entry about your magnificence. Let me mention one particular quote that spoke to me:

    ” … what we do can never provide us with the magnificence we are. It can only reveal it. It’s already in there. Often it is ourselves who are most in need of this discovery, and somehow we must engage with something to act as a catalyst for this cracking open.”

    We humans often confuse doing with being.and I am guilty as charged. But many of us are discovering that action is perhaps a trigger to, but not a measure of, our value and identity.

    Congratulations on the Honorable Mention and the completion of your second poetry book. I had thought Hafiz was the poet, but perhaps he just shares his name and is a separate entity that accompanies you on your poetic forays. I would definitely enjoy reading a draft of your short stories. Many of my blog posts are non-fiction accounts of grace, so I am eager to learn more of how grace appears on your journey.

    Michael, I learn so much from you and am entertained at the same time, which is an extra blessing. I wish you continued success in your creative pursuits and am fortunate to be in your orbit..

    peace with love,
    Linda

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for the warm and heartfelt note you’ve left here, which I greatly appreciate. It is an interesting thing about the being vs doing, and I think sometimes we fall into the pitfall of an either-or mentality. As you say, there is a way that action and creative expression serve to catalyze the deepening of our awareness, and to strengthen our relatedness with the world. It is not to say this can only be accomplished through “doing”, but it is to say that in the utter absence of action, even if it just be the smile to a stranger, there is so much that is left unsaid and unexpressed. And I do feel that one thing leads to the next, in the sense that acting upon our knowing reveals new knowing… For in some cases I think we need the experience of it to remind us, and to solidify or stabilize that knowing.

      In Gratitude and Love
      Michael

      PS – I will send you some story samples soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Looking forward to that new book! Thanks for the warning about Goodreads. I think it’s awesome that you don’t read the reviews. That is something I will have a hard time with when my book is published, so your decision to stop reading them offers that option of self care should I need to follow suit. Hafiz would approve, I think, and have something funny to say about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi JoAnna,

      I think it’s a good lesson, as every creative person who offers their work to the world eventually learns, but when I wrote that I was actually thinking of the difficulty I’ve found in reading reviews of others’ work. The first thing is to actually get reviewed, which is itself quite a challenging feat. It takes a lot of effort to get our work “out there” in the first place and I’ve only had a few reviews of my own book. Which is about on par with the efforts I’ve put in to date I would say. But this comment was actually sparked by reading some of the reviews of Paul Beatty’s book The Sellout, which recently won the Man Booker award and which I just finished reading.

      It was almost alarming to me to see the ease with which people could point to flaws in a book that clearly contained the heart and soul of the author. By flaws I mean, criticisms of the novel’s structure, the pace of its plot, whether or not the closing chapters read more like essays than fiction, etc. I think they’re all valid and fair game and even appropriate to comment upon. When we submit our work to the world all aspects of it are open to interpretation, review and criticism–that is just the nature of it and we shouldn’t probably put our work into the public domain if we wish to avoid such–but it just hit me how easy and effortless it can be to criticize. The truth is that it’s extremely hard work to be a creative artist in one form or another, and nearly always a labor of love first and foremost, but still it is necessary to the human spirit so it will continue.

      I daresay what we’re trying to produce is rarely something everyone will enjoy. We’re trying to cleave open a unique window to the human heart, and if we can do this the rest is certainly subject to debate. it will be debated ad infinitum, but the work will be returned to for its merits in revealing the human heart I think, first and foremost.

      And best wishes for your own book, JoAnna!

      Peace!
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for this insight which reminds me that I enjoyed what I read of your book very much, to the point of highlighting parts, and then let myself get distracted by other things. It’s still sitting on my nightstand but other books got put on top of it. This helps me understand how at least one person I gave my manuscript to for feedback has done the same. I want to get back to your book and write a review. I now have a much better understanding of how much work it takes to write and produce a book.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi JoAnna,

          Thank you for this. I get it completely. Particularly books that read in small pieces, we read some for a while and then we move on… It is easy to do. There are so many competing demands for our attention! I appreciate your sharing your enjoyment of the previous and I wish you great success in your own endeavors. And thank you for your support… It is always moving to know that something we took effort to produce was not in vain. It’s hard to explain. It’s a miracle I guess, this idea that another would resonate with what we feel compelled to share. It is humbling and profound and beautiful.

          Peace
          Michael

          Like

  10. i’m happy knowing
    of this further expression
    of your true self will be
    published & available
    to me & the masses, soon, Michael!
    your well worded expressions
    have been creative prod
    helping me consider
    who i am 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, David, for your support and the kind words. I feel much the same regarding your own open-hearted reflections. I am reveling in the joy of our relatedness here.

      Peace!
      Michael

      Like

  11. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    Ah, Michael,
    Your magnificence is so well known here. You are such a gift to all of us here.
    I am so happy that your second poetry book is now out there. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and heart. The cover is beautiful, as is the content. Your short stories are bound to be noticed and scooped up by some brilliant publisher who can see their magnificence.
    The words that jumped out for me in this post is “what we do can never provide us with the magnificence we are. It can only reveal it.” I think doing and being may be two sides of the same coin. For me, being is where I try to live, but doing is important too, somehow. Standing up for something believed in, giving a helping hand. Maybe part of that is proving to ourselves that we are “good” and have “value,” but also just giving love is who we are, and maybe that is our magnificence. You, my friend reveal your magnificence as you be and do!
    Looking back, I used the word magnificence a lot, haha! Oh well, that’s what this is all about.
    Much love and appreciation,
    Mary

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Mary!

      I agree with you on being and doing, and tried to say something similar to Linda earlier in the comments. You just really can’t drop one or the other and remain a whole human being I think. If you get too far to one side or the other, I think you eventually discover something is lacking in your experience in this world. That said, I think “doing” takes many, many forms and is a highly personal thing, as is being. We know within when we have these two poles of our being appropriately balanced and resonating together…

      And we also are each moving through seasons that we ourselves (at least me personally) seldom understand fully at the time. The cycles of inbreath and outbreath, echoed in the whole of our life. Sometimes it is time to be quiet. Sometimes it is time to hit the streets. And we just can never depend on the person next to us to be the benchmark for what is true to ourselves. It is open-ended with so much to discover as we do-be and be-do our way across this land!

      Peace and Love,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so happy for you, Michael. Congratulations on your book and the Honorable Mention, and best wishes for the short stories. The submission process takes patience. Writing is indeed a challenge and, like you, I no longer read book reviews or feel entitled to criticize any book. Even cheesy romances. 🙂 (Well, there is one author who drives me up the wall, but I won’t mention him here.)

    It is not easy to surrender to this creative force, but when you do, magic happens.

    Warmest wishes-
    Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this, Julie. It means a lot coming from such a writer as yourself. It does indeed take patience and I can see how one gets a little perspective on the process as they go. Over time my wanting and hoping and praying has smoothed into something a little more sustainable. 🙂

      Knowing how difficult it is to write something that is whole and consistent and moving, it’s just too hard to criticize! Ha! But I guess it serves a function, as there is so much work out there people want to know how to invest their time, and I can appreciate that…

      I would actually think short story reading might be time just as well spent as reading reviews, then you can decide for yourself in a sample size!

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  13. Hello awesome Michael, I enjoyed the organic nature of this post, it allowed me to relish in your words and you have such a phenomenal gift for writing. Reading your words, no matter what you are writing about, lifts me from one place to another place – and we’re talking going upscale here.
    Congratulations on your second book of poetry. Naturally, I love the title. If there is anything I can do to promote it, or if you feel comfortable giving me carte blanche on that, I will. Otherwise and most importantly, peace to you also. Harlon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Magnificent, Harlon– thank you my friend!

      Consider carte blanche given. I appreciate your support and most all your friendship. Enjoy the day my friend. Peace, Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you my dear friend …Michael , to surrender is a humbling experience and your expression of that is beautiful …And I look so forward with an open heart to reading your second book …I share in your happiness ….love , meg💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Meg, for sharing your open heart and your happiness–two precious commodities! I know you know this feeling well, as it shines in your own work.

      Peace and Love-
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  15. This is a beautiful post, Michael. I have recently started a new job where I am working with young creative writers and I am so humbled and inspired by their talent and vulnerability. I will also be taking a couple of writing classes in the new year and I’m looking forward to the entire creative process rather than any end ‘results’. Congratulations on your second poetry book too. 🙂 All the best, Aleya

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Aleya! Being around creative people has always been both humbling and inspiring to me. It is unbelievable what people create, and what they give of themselves to offer those creations. I spend most of my day engineering things, which can also at times be quite creative, but it’s a different sort of mode somehow. It doesn’t quite have the same expression of self–that heartfelt movement into form– that other creative endeavors have. That is the humbling part for me: witnessing the beauty of one another in full force…

      Peace and Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I felt such beautiful energy, such peace, reading this post. This is what it feels like when a man recognizes his gift and refuses to consider doubt! I knew from the first moment that I read your words, Michael, that your gift would shine, and that it needed to be out in the world for all to see. Stay in your power, The Magnificence of Creation, and listen to your soul. Every word you write is filled with the vibration of love, and that is so because YOU ARE LOVE!! I am thrilled that I will receive your new book as I will set it proudly on my shelf next to the “others” and I assume that as time goes on I will designate a whole shelf to one of my favorites…YOU!!
    May the love of this season continue to bless you with its grace, and I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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