The Luggage of an Optimist

by Miriam Marston

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released September 10, 2010



all rights reserved


Miriam Marston Portland, Oregon

I started composing when I was 10. I called one of my first songs "Nostalgia", although I can't recall what my ten year old self was so nostalgic about. Recorded my first album in 2000, and I waited only ten years to release a second. Things got busy, but I never stopped writing. Even if it meant composing on a mostly-broken piano in a cold basement of a university that I wasn't even enrolled in. ... more

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Track Name: The Postcard
See how every notion takes on new life under the moon.
And the silence stands at my shoulder,
keeps me frozen in this room.
And lifted up from deeper thoughts,
I am waiting for his move.
But on the other side he smiles,
as he waits for me to choose.
'cause I haven't learned his name,
or maybe haven't learned it right,
but I hear he's got a thing or two
to say about this fight.
'cause I haven't felt the same
and I think I would have liked
all the things he said I could have had
if I'd let him in my life.
See how everyone points to
all the sad times they never choose.
What their memory doesn't tell them
they make up to fit their mood.
And woken up from bitter ways,
I am calm but still unsure.
And focused on those better days,
I am standing at this door.
'cause there's no one left to blame,
and I'm pushing past these lies,
and I see that this is far beyond
anything that just sounds nice.
And the truth is never tame,
and I really think it's time
that I turned to face the Word I ran away from
at the first sign.
And He said He so loved the world,
and He said He so loved the world,
He said He so loved the world,
and He said He so loved the world
that He came to stay here.
And I believed what he said
when he said that he'd descend
in my life, in my mess, as my best friend.
And I believed what he said
when he said that he would send
all his love like a postcard from my best friend.
Track Name: Rumors of a Good Thing
Call it unreason,
Call it a season,
Call it anything you'd like but
I will call it seeking.
Maybe I'm wealthy
but maybe I'm poor inside.
Maybe I could use a trip like this because
I'm low on wonder
I'm low on adoration,
but high on resignation.
I hear there's a king on the other end
of this star lit road and every single sense
says I'm near it and not to fear Him.
I hear there's a song that we'll sing again
and there's a chance that I could be a man again.
The only question that remains: did I bring enough to say...thanks?
Said all my goodbyes,
saved all my good lines
for the final moment when everybody's waving.
Away from the sidelines,
I hear for the last time,
some of them begin to say things like
"maybe don't go"
another says "don't you know all the dangers you could find there?"
They call me a fool to go so far,
but what's the good in staying right where you are?
They call me a fool to follow roads,
so uncertain where they go.
So it's a good thing I remembered
to pack my faith.
Track Name: The North Wind
Maybe this north wind brings us closer
cold and unexpected as it might be.
Maybe there's answers we've never looked for,
in our weary state,
we've unlocked this one door.
Maybe all we ever learned figures in right where we turn,
we sigh inside.
Maybe the soft word carries us farther
away from the deep joy that makes our song.
So many open windows to choose from,
it would be so sad if we got this one wrong.
In our sentimental way,
we believe we've come too late,
but Love won't mind.
Maybe this north wind brings us closer,
moving us to stumble so perfectly
over the Cornerstone that's been waiting
to awake us all
from an imperfect sleep.
Track Name: Léonie
Her favorite stories were the ones she read as she went to bed
That made her leave the light on just in case
The dragons lingered right outside her room,
Ready to surprise in the night but it’s alright,
she had her sword by her side.
They never told her that she was on to something greater
Than the world could ever guess.
Mild and quiet, it was decided
That little more could ever pour out of a life so very ordinary.
A hero’s welcome was a friend’s embrace in some unknown place,
With the wine of pleasant company.
Her kingdom made of tiny rooms and smiles;
If you stayed a while, you could tell that all she wanted was
Something holy and sure.
“It’s so simple and yet so complicated” and
Every word like this that the world ever fed her
Was silently tamed while the secret that reigned
In her heart was enough
To get her through the toughest moments unscathed.
They’re so delighted that she found her way
And a word to say
But hold on because her sight is on something brighter than day.
Track Name: Don't Look Down
I heard you scraped your knee again on thoughts of rock.
You'll see they're not so innocent,
those creeds without a cost.
You can be sure of one thing:
I won't let you go.
If you'll just promise one thing before you go:
Don't look down, it's too far,
just keep a safe hold on my hand.
Keep looking up,
so you'll see the light crash through those clouds at last,
don't look down.
I hear you spoke your mind again,
an arrow, to be sure.
Did they just smile and ask to be friends,
or did they show you the door?
You could have been that someone
to save the day,
but something older told you to walk away.
Don't let the sad sound strike the chord of your joy.
If I could let you in on one thing:
I love it more when you sing that song,
when you smile that smile,
when you laugh that laugh,
when you say that all good things last,
when you trust me.
I know you and I have met before, do you recall?
Others may say whatever they want, but their truth is so small.
You can be sure of one thing:
I won't let you go.
If you'll just promise one thing, before you go...
Track Name: Morning at Ostia
And I feel older than yesterday,
And I feel bolder and ready to say,
So much to do, nothing to lose,
By the way there’s a chance I may seem relatively
Unattached to this place.
And he said to me “one day you’ll see,
all of this will feel like one of your dreams,
You will wake up in my arms.”
And he said to me “all days can be
steps on a road leading to me, til you wake up in my arms.”
And always a little bit taken with
All of your promises and all I won’t miss.
Caught unaware, lost in the glare of the world’s last light,
All of a sudden I awake to the light of the Son.
So I’ve got a lot to learn before I head home, sweet home.
But I only wonder at the things I do not yet know.
Maybe this is all that it takes to be satisfied.
Track Name: Prayer to St. Sebastian
A prayer to St. Sebastian
is what my heart is singing
In the moment when my knees are
in danger of giving up.
When it feels like I am breathing
on just one lung,
I believe that St. Sebastian's there
to help me carry on;
To see it can be won.
And I believe he's quite familiar
with matters of determination;
'cause he handled all these awful things,
and kept his faith and patience.
He kept them in the face of
certain termination.
Fortunately it is not like I am being made to walk
into a lion's den.
But still I'll call on him
eleven miles in.
A prayer to St. Sebastian
is what my heart is singing
in the moment when the smallest hill
becomes the tallest mountain,
I believe that St. Sebastian's there
to help me along the way.
To offer inspiration from
a few of his saintly ways.
And when it feels like I can breathe no longer,
and I can move no farther,
my hope is suddenly stronger,
he's on my side.
The end is getting is closer,
and when it's finally over,
I'll drink to that St. Sebastian.
A prayer to St. Sebastian
is what my heart is singing
in the moment when I cross the line
he'll be running by my side.
Track Name: The Gardener
A faint sign of gladness makes her
pause in all her sadness,
Fair and so faithful, she throws aside careful.
Hardly knowing what to expect,
she makes her way over --
Maybe it’s safe now, it’s been a few days now.
And she started weeping,
as though she’d never cried before,
She thought she’d lost the only one she’d loved.
And three of the longest days of her life had come to this:
Waiting by a stone.
And then she saw the gardener.
He asked her how she’d been.
“I’m sad and I’m scared, but why do you care?
You’re just the gardener’s son.”
Do you recognize Me now?
‘Go tell all the others that you met me.
They might think that you’ve been drinking through the night,
But don’t let all their doubts keep you away from me,
The world will likely tell you that it’s
All in your mind.’
She comes to the home she’d left
anxious and alone but
It feels more like a mansion now,
though she can’t yet mention how
Everything around her seems infused with glory,
Her hope expands as the world just stands still.
Track Name: That Day at the Shore
The sun is warm,
it's warm in my eyes
and I want to go home.
I'm only here because a friend asked me
and he didn't want to come here alone.
I look at the crowd
but they're already looking ahead of me
at the sight of a man
Who raises His right hand to get our attention.
He clears His mighty voice as He prepares
to tell us something.
Love like you mean it,
Believe like you've seen it.
Give what you hold dear,
Live like you like it here.
And do I dare
say something good was in the air
that day at the shore?
I sit here, still, awake and astounded,
and all the sounds drift away.
My eyes shut tight, in case I am dreaming,
and I don't want to let it go yet.
I open my eyes, but everybody's already moving,
and I fear that He's gone.
But He's there at the water
holding out His hand.
I move a little closer
as I figure it might be time to take that chance.
The storm that once,
that once was in my heart
is somehow gone tonight.
And I suspect His words and His touch
may have something to do with it.
I look to the stars
but everything has turned into morning;
have I been here that long?
A few blessed statements
is all that it took for Him
to spin me around in my head
and remind me I'm dead til the dawn.
Track Name: Sane and Cheerful
On the train from Paddington to Harrow,
I'm a little bit tired but I'm still attentive.
And the sights I normally would ignore
put a charm on a few of my sleepy senses.
At a station pausing for a while,
can't help but wonder why, since it looks like
nobody lives here, "but someone does, dear",
a little voice inside me says.
So maybe the secret ties are the very things that keep us sane and cheerful,
a little more kind and tearful.
I caught the world in a lie when it told me it could give me
everything I wanted, anything I wanted, anything at all.
From a long way off I start to notice
all the people with their animated faces at the dinner table.
and the four lights grinning in a small town
put a stop to the thought that I'd rather be anywhere else.
Conversations that I'll never know, this train has far to go,
but still, I wanted some share, I could have lived there,
if my life had taken a different turn...
I could have sworn that I was
only just a moment ago alone in my own small space.
In strange ways, it's the dull days that make us face what really matters...
Track Name: The Last Horizon
I remember like it happened yesterday,
the light, it was golden and low.
I recall how the breeze was calling out,
calling my name, it was calling my name.
And one day you'll know,
when the wind bears you home
to the land where the sea the meets the sun.
Until then, I'm sure that there's more to the world
past the edge of the last horizon.
The very air filled with a thousand good dreams,
and evening came sweetly.
A vision of water lay far ahead,
where it touched the sky.
The ground was so soft and a perfect green,
and that's where we met him.
He said that we'd no longer pass this way,
and so remember it all by another name.