A writer is first a receiver, open to messages all the time, always watching and listening. A message or image can come at any moment; the writer’s job then becomes How do I interpret this? What meaning shall I attach? How will I shape this notion, this idea, this sense of something, into words to relay it?

The greatest challenge is capturing that first fleeting message before it’s lost; I heard an author say once that “a new idea is fragile thing.”

Sometimes a writer recognizes that an idea is hovering close and just hasn’t landed yet. Some ideas flutter and dart about like hummingbirds for a while. For me this is like Yeah, I know you’re there, Idea, whatever you are. I feel you darting in and out. One of these days I’m going to get ahold of you but right now I am tired of the chase.

So it was on a day that I visited the hair salon. One of my favorite things there is the complimentary coffee bar for clients. As the iCoffee machine whirred and glowed with blue light, illuminating the cup (so mesmerizing), I reached for a napkin.

The napkins here are always pretty, often seasonal. A lot of thought on someone’s part clearly goes into the napkin choices, no detail being too small or insignificant in creating a pleasant experience.

This napkin was a message.

You saw it yourself, at the top of this post—that’s a picture of the napkin.

Coffee momentarily forgotten, I stood there thinking, I’ll write about this. Somehow . . . 

Yesterday I told someone: “When an image comes to you, Writer, use it!”

Today I return to the napkin, thinking. I finally decide to Google the phrase printed on it, suspecting that it’s connected to an author out there somewhere.

Aha. The quote seems to have come from Patrick Overton’s book of poems entitled The leaning tree: 

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.”

The idea is so near now that I can feel its wings beating against my soul

Believe. Believe. Believe.

Like the beating of a heart.

I wonder what word would remain if the napkin were tossed outside, trampled on, battered by wind and rain. What the last surviving word would be.

Maybe faith.

Maybe believing.

Maybe fly.

For the napkin in my hand is ephemeral, meant to be thrown away.

Faith, believing, and fly — hear the wings, feel the breeze stirred by their rustling? — are eternal.

Oh, wait—there’s one tiny word there on the napkin, there on the butterfly—how could I have almost missed it?


Thank You, I whisper at last.

And I write.

17 thoughts on “Believe

  1. Believe
    like the beating
    of the heart,
    in the beating
    of the heart,
    in the end that
    begins in the
    start, the way
    an idea might flutter
    around, and land
    so that what you write
    inspires what I write
    and what they may yet write
    becomes mere echoes,
    stones across the
    ripples of the pond.
    In this:

    — I’m line-lifting a bit to make poems as comments on posts. Forgive the intrusion.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The quote- napkin!- captured my attention at the top of the post. I love the story of how you found it and the search for inspiration. Fran, your writing is always so poignant. You are a blogger I love to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your post caught my attention as soon as I saw the napkin, because my theme this month is “flight-flying-looking up”. I may steal this quote to start a Slice!

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  4. “A new idea is a fragile thing.” This line reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. (Have you read it?) Your post is beautiful in so many ways — its message, your voice, the flow. Just lovely! I have to get some of those napkins!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do have Big Magic and love it. My favorite part is where Gilbert talks about poet Ruth Stone hearing an idea rushing at her and rushing for paper & pencil in hopes of catching it … she caught an idea “by the tail” once, pulled it back, and the poem came out backwards. I believe it! Thank you, Jennifer, for your words and your heart.


  5. Messages or inspiration come from many places if only we notice. You notice, but then ponder and something beautiful is the result. I need to notice more and ponder deeper. Thanks for the inspiration today (and every day)!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pure beauty in this piece. Your writing I liken to my preacher’s style of giving sermons. There’s a relaxed pace to your writing. Almost conversational-like one has with a dear friend that they haven’t seen in quite awhile. This piece gave my heart even more peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a beautiful post, Fran. I love your opening line: “A writer is first a receiver, open to messages all the time, always watching and listening.” And then finding that gorgeous napkin! The universe has so many gifts to share with us. All we have to do is pay attention.

    Liked by 1 person

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