Filling the Pen: A Ritual ~ #SOL 2021

Once nestled in my writing chair to scribe a few words for the day, a quick check of the pen to be sure the cartridge is fully loaded with ink is necessary. There’s nothing quite as tragic as being wrapped up in the flow of writing and, all of a sudden, the ink decides it’s done for the day. I try to prevent this drama at all costs.

I choose the color of hydrangea for my ink this morning, feeling the warm spring energy of the day ahead. A shade of blue “reminiscent of the image of raindrops nestling on its petals”.  My giddiness welcomes this change from vintage brown to this fresh color in my notebook. 

The glass container which houses this ink is a work of art in itself. Heavy and solid with a slight dip downward at the bottom of the jar – intended for the tip of the nib to drink up ink with ease. Every time I refill my pen, I gaze in awe at this ingenious idea. I often wonder if the bottle is perhaps worth more than the ink it holds and what might I do with the bottle when my ink runs dry? Is there a place I can send empty bottles to and just purchase refills? I’ll need to look into this one day.

A candle is lit and a string of ivory lights around the perimeter of my sanctuary window offer just enough glow to provide light to perform this ritual. There is something about doing this work in the edge of time when the moon waves goodbye to morning dawn as if signaling the night shift is over. The switching on of lamps would disrupt this moment.

I hold the jar steady in my left hand as I ever so slowly and delicately twist off the cap. I envision a nightmare of accidentally dropping the bottle of ink and watching it spill in horror all over my beloved chair and blankets – ruining all forever. My mother would be mortified watching me. A wise person would not fill their pen sitting in an overstuffed chair wrapped in a blanket. They would be at the desk with protective paper underneath. My husband tells me that I’m not the daring kind, but he should see in the morning, filling my pen.

Turning the cap on it’s second twist, a flash of insight arrives. My newfound love of fountain penning has slowed me down – even more than the act of writing itself. All my attention must remain on the filling of this pen. The removal of the barrel, the dipping of the nib into the ink. The slow twist of the cartridge, first to the left to empty remaining ink and air out of the pen, and then ever so gently, a half rotation twist at a time, to the right, to suction the ink up into the cartridge. One jerky slip and catastrophe ruins the whole process.

This act of preparation settles my mind and gives whispers to the writing angels that she’s getting ready. . .

I admire the filled cartridge before sliding the barrel back on, imagining all the pages this single cartridge of ink will fill. How many new discoveries will appear from the letters strung together? Will this ink scribe words of gratitude, angst, or just capture the inner and outer goings on around me? Such mystery it holds!

I decide to give the ink a blessing.

Oh blessed ink. May you only write words of praise for the greater good – words that create community and channel love and compassion into the world. 

Well. . . this was a surprise revelation. Perhaps if I’d been blessing my pen and ink all along, I’d have more productive writing days. 🙂

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. When teachers write themselves, they are able to draw from their inner curriculum they have shaped for themselves in which to model and teach their students. But, more than this, as human beings, we also cultivate a writing practice that can be a buoy and and an anchor in the turbulent waters of our lives.

Slowing Down and Finding Words

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I don’t know what this post is about.  It’s a ramble and I apologize upfront.

I’ve been having trouble lately putting words to the images, thoughts and feelings I experience.  It’s not that I can’t recall them, it’s just that I’m struggling for the right fit – the perfect description.  Maybe I’m just exhausted.  Well, it halts me in my tracks.  I get frustrated and end up writing clichés or simple phrases just to hold on to the moment.

Last Friday was the most beautiful September day.  As I walked from my car to the school door, carrying my bags and coffee in hand, I caught sight of the horizon.  Fog blanketed the playground and a layer of dark clouds rested along this horizon.  Just at the crust of these clouds, light beamed.  The sun, not showing itself yet, was announcing it’s arrival. The entire sky was glowing with rays of light.  I stopped for a moment to take in its beauty. It filled me.  I had no words.

At lunch, as I walked to the mailbox, I heard honking above.  As I craned my neck to the sky, hundreds of geese flapped their wings in the most magnificent V of geese I have ever seen – all heading south.

Again.  I stopped to take in the awe.

A boring description – again, I apologize.

As I reached for a poetry book off my shelf this morning, John O’ Donohue, one of my favorite poets and also an Irish teacher, jumped into my hands.

Here was his first poem:


Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.

Oh my heavens.

The words I had been clamoring for.

I printed it off and pasted it to my September Birthday Poems collection.

John O’ Donohue understands poetry.  He put words on the page to paint the description of my experience.

For this, I am grateful.

Each day, we have moments of awe.  It’s difficult to describe their significance and maybe we don’t have to.  We can just feel them.  But, sometimes, I want to put it in writing.

John O’Donohue describes it as such:

There is a quiet light that shines in every heart.  
It draws no attention to itself, thought it is always secretly there.
It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty,
our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life.
Without this subtle quickening, our days would be empty and wearisome, 
and no horizon would ever awaken our longing.
Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us
that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life.
We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs
to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us
and will no enfold, nourish, and sustain us.
The gift of the world is our first blessing.

There are days when it seems these quiet gifts of the world come pouring in.  There are other days where it feels like God forgot that I’m still here.  Perhaps other people need more, on those days, and He thinks I’ll be fine.  But really, it’s the days that I am so consumed with the pace of life that I am blind to what is in front of me.

Slow down, I hear.

Slow down.

The moments are there.

And the words will appear.