Thursday, March 16, 2006

JK: Tipplers and Corn cobs

For years, I’ve thought I had a “metaphorical disorder,” a latent disease that hovers beneath the surface just waiting to spill over onto phrases that amaze. Connections no one else makes seem to pop into my head. I’d read about research on corn from my alumni magazine, for example, and learn why it is some cobs are fully complete while others leave gaps that look like mouths of missing teeth. It seems that when a single kernel doesn’t grow it’s because the silk that connects to every single kernel with its genetic code attached, must have disappeared, been caught in wind or clutched itself to some passing animal instead of waiting for the sunlight to set the DNA message free, telling the kernel to grow fat and plump.

“Amazing,” I tell Jerry. “It’s like our life stories. Exposed to the light, our individual, uniqueness blooms. But if we are somehow disconnected from the silk that reaches to a higher light, there’ll be this empty space in the corncob of community. It’s all such an incredible plan, just one we can’t always see.”

“Huh?” he says, lifting his head from his book on double-barreled shotguns. And then he patiently lets me talk through this pattern seen for the first time until he, too, is amazed at the intricacies of creation as revealed inside a cob of corn. A metaphorical disorder, I call it. Jerry is forced to endure it (and you readers are, too).

Then I heard this radio interview in which a woman said that we are all creatures of patterns, that we seek them in order to organize our world, to help us sort and make sense. Perhaps that’s where bias and prejudice arrive from, too, choosing just a few items until we’ve passed judgment. Pattern-making may be a way to resist coincidence as the “tippler” of our lives. (A tippler is the machine that sorted ore in days gone by, sending high grade ore to one spot; lesser grades to another. No ore could be sorted, no wealth evaluated, if the tippler was down. Not unlike our minds, I like to think. The interviewee didn’t mention the tippler; that’s my disorder.)

So perhaps one reason I keep writing is to keep finding the creativity in creation, to be surprised by the patterns that appear where I least expect it. It’s one of the gifts of following our hearts, showing up, assuming that position of a writer. I never would have discovered how corn and stories combine if I hadn’t written about it. I wouldn’t have made a connection between an old mining device and our need to keep our minds ready to sort but to not put everything into so tight a pattern that we miss the uniquess of each other. OK, back to writing to see what my tippler will sort out!

Look for Jane’s newest this April A Clearing in the Wild from WaterBrook Press


At 7:12 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Beautiful post, Jane. Thanks for a wonderful day starter.

You said, "Connections no one else makes seem to pop into my head." Jesus was like that too. In teaching lessons of eternal consequence, he talked about coins and lost sheep and soil and bushels and candlesticks and more. As he used these everyday things, He brought enlightenment to mankind, and not only enlightenment, but entertainment. These were interesting stories to the people and kept them spellbound.

That's a confirming thought to me this morning: as we write our stories, we are like Jesus.

"To be like Jesus," the old song goes. "To be like Jesus, all I ask, is to be like Him. All through life's journeys, from earth to glory, all I ask, is to be like Him."

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

hah, I've got that disorder too! I don't lack for metaphors in my work that's for sure. One of the things that amazes me most about God is the way the nature He created always points to spiritual truths. The genious of it and there's so many of those type of lessons we have yet to discover. I guess we'll have eternity to do that.

Interesting post!

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm awful at metaphors. It makes me appreciate yours all the more! (thanks for explaining what tippler was - i was going to have to google it)


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