Paula Hendricks

Author ~:~ Writer ~:~ Book Designer ~:~ Book Producer

Imprints: a meditation

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“I bought more steno pads today. I’ve opened the package and put one in my purse.” I can hear her shift, her clothes sliding against the fabric of her chair. Her breathing. In. Out. As I hold my own breath.

“Okay.” I sigh. ” I’ve started writing in it. I love the pale green paper with the pale rose red stripe. This is dumb. I mean it’s a steno pad.”

Silence. Breathing. A bus on Lexington. A child’s laugher. The maple frames of the tall windows glowing in the afternoon light. The chip on the edge of the door to the small bathroom, showing brown under the white.

“Steno pads. I can’t seem to write in beautiful journals… I don’t want to ruin them. They are too beautiful, too pristine. I guess I want permission to make a mess. To tear up the sheets. To throw it all out.”

“Do you throw much away?”

“No.” I laugh. “No. I have trunks full of steno pads. Trunks full.”

I know if I turned my head just a little I could see her profile, her silhouette lit behind by the light from the window. She is in shadow. She breathes in my presence. She honors me in ways I do not honor myself.

“I’m done. For today.” Silence. Breathing. “Nothing is flowing here.” I slowly rise from the Scandinavian day bed and take it slow breathing, looking at her silhouette, no details available to me. Taking a moment to find my shoes with my feet and slide into them. I stand slowly and walk over to the chair where I’ve left my bag and my coat. I pick them up, turn and smile at her. Walk to the door, away from the windows. As I pull open the door, I turn around. “Maybe next time we can talk about permission. And wanting to make messes.” I smile again, highly aware that I’ve made another doorknob comment. Perhaps the whole value of this session is in that one sentence.

Making messes. Permission.

I walk through the quiet hallway toward the door with the glass pane. Seeing the half raised Austrian shades in her waiting room just to my left. I pull open the heavy door and the city noises rush in. Birds, cabs honking, busses. Ah. I stand on the top step and just breath. For a moment.


I went to this church on 29th Avenue. The front gardens facing the street were glorious and wild with color. I could see the top of a fountain in a courtyard with overgrown magnolias. I stepped through the gateway into a desert. The grass around the fountain had died and the earth was beaten dusty.

What makes me think I can turn my own barren courtyard into a lush garden so easily? As though by standing on the ditch bank I can simply lift the gate and let life-giving water flow into my field. That that’s all there is to it. Just open the gate.

I see that woman. Bend over. Brace her booted foot and lift the gate about 12 inches. Enough to get some flow. Enough to begin judging time.

I have lifted that gate. There is plenty of water. There is no need to clear out the muck. The flow is strong. I am in the book world. The water flows around me.

My gates are open. The life giving water is flowing. The trees are sinking their roots deeper. Spreading them wider.


I sit in the quiet of the library at the Marine’s Memorial Club on Sutter Street in San Francisco. This is a quiet place. To write. To listen. To the hum. To hear muted city sounds. Beeps of equipment backing up. Trucks growling as they begin to move. The lighter swish of cars. The air conditioning in the building.


I am not Teflon. I don’t want things to slide off. I want some things to stick. Sticky dough. Sticky buns. Sticky notes. Sticky fingers.

Dough is malleable. Water. Flour. Yeast. Knead it. Knead the dough. As I push my hands into the puffy, soft, stuff. As I work it. Pound it. Roll it. Knead it.

I contain it. In a big bowl. I let it sit. It rises. It expands. It reacts to air.

Kneading it, again. I put the strength of my arms, my fingers, and my whole body into this. Leaning, pushing into the dough. Above my wrists. Squeezing it. Pulling it apart. Pushing it back together.

I shape it. Use special pans. I bake it. Heat and fire. Transformative. It becomes something else. Crusty outside. Flakey. Cracked open. Soft, airy inside. Warm. Something greater. Bread of life. Body of Christ. Food.


I lift the gate with intent. Water flows into my field. The gate is open. I stand in the field filling with water. As it quenches our thirsts. Softens our crusts. Soaks into every pore.

Let it be. There are cycles for this. Days of flooding. What are the rhythms to this abundance? What do I need to know?

A redwood drinks up to 400 gallons of water a day. There is more than enough. There is plenty.


I speak with my headaches. My small effective critical voices. “I need you to help hold my space. I need you to be part of this membrane that defines my space.”

I am here. Think of my self. My body. As I do the labyrinth. Hold this space safe. Sacred. Be as neutral as possible. Hold it loosely. So its own energy can flow.

I am sure of my body. As I am of the labyrinth. I have no judgment. It is what it is. Trees. Sheltering green.

“Resistance.” I say. I need you to come over here. To help protect this space. This much larger space. This labyrinth of my whole life. I need you to help me walk the rim. Mark the outer edge. Be gentle, flexible, strong. I need all my resistances because this circle is large. I need you to help me hold the money, the love, the intimacy. The friendship. Community. Creativity. Little hums. So it doesn’t just rush away. So it can stick. Stay. So there’s time to let it soak in. So I can use it. Drink it. Wallow in it. Before it drains into the universal aquifer. So there is time for transformation.


I raise my arms. As I stand bare foot in the field filled with water. It’s time to wallow. Pigs in mud. Sunflowers along the ditch bank. Lilacs in the courtyard.


I am at the Warming Hut. Crissy Field. SF. It’s just after 10. I have my coffee. Sunlight filters through the cypress outside the east facing window shadowing my writing. A group of older Russians sit at a concrete table outside reading newspapers. Yuppies jog pushing kids in three wheel strollers. Lots of kids. Lots of bikes. A few dogs. Men fishing off the pier. There is a small breeze. Ruffling the dark blue green water of the bay. The east bay hills are hazy at this hour.

I hold this space. Namaste. I string words together with ink on paper. I bow with my hands together.


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