Darkness hangs low over my winter garden this morning, seeping into my flesh despite extra layers of flannel and wool. And even though yesterday’s rain is gone, mist weeps into my upturned face.
My heart is weighted down by the news of a dear friend drawing near to death. I whisper another prayer, a blessing in her direction, smile weakly remembering our last conversation, her hope for the new treatments, her plans for afterward, her delight that we shared a kind of quirky humor as well as open honesty.
And even now the garden speaks to me. Not of death and rebirth, but simply of being. The garden is what it is– no matter the season. And so is she, my dear friend. She is what she is, no matter the season.
I turn toward the light of my porch lamp and walk slowly back inside. ***
And this afternoon, I have the sweet honor of opening my door and finding author, Phyllis Campbell.
Me: Phyllis, finally, I’ve been wanting to meet you for the longest time, welcome, welcome, how nice of you to drop by! Please come inside out of the dampness, it’s nice and cozy in here. How about a cup of hot tea, and a cookie or two?
Phyllis: Thank you.
Me: Ah, lemon-ginger is just perfect for a day like this, don’t you think? And now that we’re settled, tell me a little about yourself. What part of the country do you live in?
Phyllis: I live in Staunton, Virginia, where I’ve lived since I was six years old.
Me: What do you like best and least about living there?
Phyllis: Staunton is small enough that I can walk into my bank, and be addressed by name, and large enough to have such cultural advantages as a Shakespeare theater. I could wish for more public transportation.
Me: Is your writing influenced in any way by where you live?
Phyllis: My writing without exception, at least for my full-length books, is influenced by the small town atmosphere, as well as the rural areas of Virginia. In fact, “Who Will Hear Them Cry” a mystery, has Staunton as its setting.
Me: Can you describe your writing process for me? For example, do you have a certain time of day you find most productive? Or a special place where you find inspiration?
Phyllis: I’m definitely a morning person, although I’ve disciplined myself to write at any time, if I’m trying to meet a deadline. I often use music to create the mood that I need when working on A particular subject.
Me: So what was it that got you writing?
Phyllis: I have been an avid reader, but long before I could actually read, very early on that little “what if” reared its head. What if this particular character were blind? How would a person who is blind handle that situation?
Me: Oh, that’s interesting.
Phyllis: Well,then for several years I was quite ill, and found myself wondering if I could still write. I pulled out a manuscript that had been languishing since before my husband’s illness and death, and my own illness. “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” was released late, 2017, and I’m hoping for a sequel, depending on sales.
Me: And what keeps you writing?
Phyllis: What keeps me writing? *smile*
Me: And now a few more “creative” questions, if you don’t mind, so I can get a better glimpse of you as a person. If you could be any other living thing, what would you be?
Phyllis: I think I’d like to be a cat, because they possess the independence, and curiosity of the world around them, that I strive for.
Me: What do you like to do on a rainy day?
Phyllis:Make a pot of soup or stew.
Me: Ooh, I’d go for that, all right. And what is your favorite punctuation mark?
Phyllis: Why, The question mark, of course.
Me: What role have children played in your life? How about in your writing?
Phyllis: Oh, I love kids! I have worked with children since I first played for the junior choir, when I was still in my teens. I have taught at the Virginia School for the Blind, and given private piano and voice lessons. I also worked as youth transition specialist. I wrote a novel for young adults, “A Place To Belong”, which is available from Amazon. And I have also taught writing to youth and conducted a workshop, at a local school.
Me: That’s wonderful! Do you have a favorite fairy tale or children’s story?
Phyllis: You know, strangely enough, I don’t think I have one. Probably, if I had to choose, it would be the Oz books, all of them, not just The Wizard. Then, there’s “Charlotte’s Web” and … You get the idea, this could go on for pages!
Me: Oh, I know you need to get back to your busy life, but before you leave, tell me a little more about your writing, won’t you? And where I might read your work?
Phyllis: My short pieces have appeared in the romance market, inspirational publications, the Virginia Psychiatric Journal, and such publications as Dialogue Magazine. My books are”Friendships in the Dark” a memoir, Brett Books, hardcover, St. Martins, paperbook, and Thorndike Press, large-print. It was also translated into Chinese, and also was published in the United Kingdom; “Come Home My heart” Avalon Press, hardcover, Thorndike, large-print; “Who Will Hear them Cry” mystery, “A Place to Belong” “Out of the Night” available from Amazon; and “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” Westboe Press, and Amazon, as well as many other electronic locations.
The Amazon titles may be found at
Some of the Amazon titles are under the name, Phyllis Staton Campbell. The address above is my author page.
Me: Well, Phyllis, it has certainly been sweet visiting with you today. I hope that we can stay in touch and chat again very soon.
Phyllis: Yes, that would be nice.
I linger over the hug Phyllis and I exchange, warmer somehow with the recognition of Life’s fleeting nature. This lovely visit, these few words shared between new friends, everything seems fixed in
photographic permanence. And there is something truly permanent about what we have shared, something substantial in the goodwill and affection. But there are so many mysteries.
Another quick squeeze, and the door closes.
I sigh and slowly reach for my faithful candlelighter. So many mysteries, I muse again. The flame clicks into being, and I draw it to the wick, once, twice, the flame disappears.
But now there are two flames, I marvel, two sparks of light in the midst of growing darkness. I close my eyes, inhale the sweetness of the moment, deeply, intentionally, claim the glow for myself, for my beloved family and friends, for the world.
And I whisper: Blessed are You, Beloved One, Light and Love of all the world, who enables us to bring light and love into the lives of those we meet, and into the world.
And let us say: Amen.