Fire and Ice

My wife and I are currently spending a month in Portland (Oregon, not Maine, though I would love to be in Portland, Me, as well).

There is an easy grace here, most noticeable in contrast to the almost hysterical frustration that is gripping  people during this deep and interminable winter in America’s northern and eastern climes.  The shoulders come down, the face muscles relax, the hair-trigger anger that comes to the fore when you step out into snow-laced ice and cold miraculously disappears.

I am not a believer in the theory that suffering is good for creativity.  Suffering, whether deep and personal, or transient and environmentally-borne, fosters a desire to create in order to externalize and transubstantiate inner struggles.  But it is only one source of creative energy.  Excitement, dreaming, and the hazy lure of far vistas set the imagination ablaze as well.

Anything that promotes introspection or long vision fosters creativity.  It is only those who live by simply moving through the events of the everyday, unaware of anything beyond logistics and the practical, who are in danger of lacking creative inspiration.

I do not know what will come out of this month amid flower petals rather than icicles, but it certainly will have a different timbre than what I would create back in Minnesota.  Each place is a feast for the senses, though one has a bit of bitter gall to it, while the other is a sweet delight.  What is important, more than the setting or the emotional response to it, is the openness to the coming transition from winter to spring.  It is in the spaces between changing realities that the opportunity for real creativity lies.

4 thoughts on “Fire and Ice”

  1. For my friends Kent and Louise,

    This is what I wish for you

    To live in a land
    where your soul sings
    and your heart knows as home

    It may or may not be
    the land of your birth
    but it’s the land you love
    more than any other place
    on this precious sparkling planet

    It’s the land that opens your heart
    the vistas, the air, the light
    that heals you
    and makes you rejoice
    in being alive

  2. The photographs go well with your appreciated writing. I too will be on the
    move; April 19 I move 45 minutes to a rental from my owned, now sold, condo in
    Georgia. I shall be aware of the “opportunity for real creativity”, but doubt if
    I’ll venture onto its path.

  3. Mr. Nerburn,
    Want to tell you how much I enjoy your books and how they have helped me in helping people dealing with grief. I’m a licensed Chaplain and Celebrant in the funeral walk here in Southern California.
    Your words have given me an easy door to open peoples hearts and souls as they deal with the finality of life at the end of this trail.
    Would love to, one day, set and visit with you about your gift.
    Thank you for following your dream and giving the world your words.
    My best,
    Bob Kirk

  4. Good morning Kent,
    I love your book “Small Graces.” Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing. I have written a book called This is Living. Practicing the Presence of God: Prayers and Meditations for Daily Life. It will be published this year. I also just started a blog ( and put a link in to your web site. I also quoted you in my last post and wanted to let you know about it. Please let me know if you are not okay with it.
    I am coming from the Christian back ground but very much resonate with all spiritual truth. I feel like a kindred spirit not just because of a similar spiritual out look but also because I spend every summer in Canada where I am blessed to spend time with my friends from the First Nation on Bear Island.
    Thank you again,

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