Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Knots

My minister recently completed a three-week trip to Bangladesh and India where he and a group of other clergymen visited various sites and spoke with members of the predominant faiths in that part of the world, one of which is Buddhism. I’m not going to delve into Buddhism. You can Google it for yourself, but I did want to touch on something he mentioned in last Sunday’s sermon, which was titled “Untying the Knots.”

When most folks think of Buddha, the picture that comes to mind is the laughing Buddha like the photo at the left. I have been looking for one of these jolly fellows for my apartment as part of the feng shui I’ve been working on. Having Buddha face the main entrance to your dwelling helps revitalize dead or negative chi (energy), relieves tension and summons fortune and riches. Rubbing the Buddha’s belly is supposed to bring good luck.

Call my crazy, but I’m very open to positive energy, good fortune and riches and less tension.

Here’s a different image of Buddha the minister used in his sermon last Sunday. Take a close look at the hands. Without an explanation I might have thought it was some sort of far eastern gang sign. However, the pundit who took their group to the site of Buddha’s first sermon explained this is the position one’s hands would be in to untie a knot.

The good reverend went on to say "the way of Buddha is about untying the knots in our lives." In our western world, we often use the expression that we’re “tied up in knots” over something.

Included in our bulletins Sunday morning was a small gift from his trip – a piece of red thread a little over three feet long with a knot tied near the middle. We were invited to put the thread on our wrist as a reminder of our faith. He also told us the Dalai Lama distributes red threads at his public audiences.

As I wrapped the thread around my wrist, I thought about all the knots I’ve had to untie over the past year. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I can sum it up in one word: divorce.

But I also started thinking of the red thread in terms of writing. When we craft a story, our characters have something they want (a goal), a reason for wanting it (motivation) and a great big knot in the red thread of their lives that keeps them from that goal (conflict).

As writers, we want to have good GMC in the story, but we also want a satisfying resolution to the story. In other words, we want that knot completely untied so our hero and heroine can live happily ever after. I'd even like to take the red thread and tie my characters together with a nice, neat bow. How we untie the knot depends on our skill as a writer and also the circumstances of the plot. But until the thread is un-knotted, the story isn’t complete and we can’t type “The End.”

With regard to the synopsis and three chapters requested by the Harlequin editor at the RWA conference week before last, I haven’t begun working on that yet. I’m still a little fuzzy from the anesthesia from my foot surgery last week, and I do not want to send off anything that could be classified as “writing under the influence.” Aliens don't need to show up in chapter fourteen.

But with regard to the other parts of my life, the untying is a work in progress. My fabulous fellow Playfriends and the Mavens have been an invaluable part of this process. My family has been behind me one hundred percent. And I leave church every Sunday with my bulletin filled with notes I’ve scribbled in response to the sermons. I like that my minister makes me think. I even appreciate that sometimes he makes me cry because it means the knots are untying and another part of my life is working through to a good resolution.

I have an extra red thread from Sunday and one lucky commenter today will get it. I don’t want you to feel like you have to bear your souls today and talk about the knotted parts of your life, so just tell me about a good book you’ve read lately and what made it so good.

I’ll go first. I’m reading RED’S HOT HONKY-TONK BAR by Pamela Morsi, which is about a woman whose life suddenly gets turned upside down when she has to take responsibility for two young grandchildren she hardly knows.


mariska said...

I had finished Heavenly by Jennifer laurens last night. And I love IT !!

it's about A girl who falling in love with the Guardian of her autism little sister.

Cheryl said...

Great Post, PM! It made me think a lot and I appreciate that! I am blessed and don't have any big knots in my life, just the small every day ones that are annoying but not insurmountable. You are doing great with your knots - keep untying! Your string will be straight soon!

I just read Vicki Lewis Thompson's three HQ books about the Chance brothers. What made those books great and interesting was that she made you invest in the heroes. You liked them and wanted them happy.

Problem Child said...

My knots are of my own making, so I must muddle through. I reserve the right to curse at the knots, though.

Sadly, I'm not reading anything at the moment other than my own words on the page. I have a couple on my TBR pile as a reward for once I'm done, though!

susanwilson44 said...

I've just read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell, a fabulous story set in the present day and in the 1920's, with a great twist at the end. In summary a girl finds out about a great aunt she'd never heard of when an institution is about to shut down. But why was she there? You need to read the book!

gigi said...

Hi M,
Your minister sounds like a great guy.
I wouldn't know what to do it If I didn't have any knots in my life. I think that is the American way of doing things.
i am glad to hear you are recuperating from the surgery. Steph had her tonsils out about 3 weeks ago and she was fuzzy from the anesthesia for about two of those weeks.

I just finished a make you feel good book THE TRUE LOVE QUILTING CLUB by Lori Wilde. It was not what I was expecting from the title but I it was a really, really good story.

Angel said...

After returning from conference, I read 2 contemporary books by Victoria Dahl (who also writes historicals). Start Me Up and Crazy For You. They were both awesome! I'm going to have to search out more.

As for knots, I'm learning which ones are of my own making, and which ones I should choose to do something about. Lots of growth going on, satisfying and sometimes scary. :)


petite said...

I am reading a wonderful novel which is memorable, Still Alice. I don't know a time when I didn't have knots to be unraveled. Great post.

chey said...

I'm reading and enjoying seduce the Darkness by Gena Showalter.

traveler said...

A very thoughtful and profound post today. Is it possible to live without knots? I doubt it very much since that is what life is. Reading provides me with a positive outlet for those knots which abound. An exceptional novel that I just finished is Serendipity.

Katherine Bone said...

Great post, PM! Perhaps our string won't be without knots until our work is done on this earth. If so, as each knot is loosened, we should count our blessings and rise to the challenges before us knowing we can overcome them given time.

Sounds like it was an awesome sermon. We used to have a Budha in our house. My parents got it when we lived in Japan. We used to rub its belly every day. Sadly, it burned in my parent's house fire.

Isn't the red string also a Kabala thing?

I'm reading Jane Slayre! Very cool!