Have you awoken to the story God is calling you to? My friend, Daisy, says, “If you can think it or imagine it, you can be sure God hasn’t done his part yet.”
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I am finally beginning to see more clearly this passion that hunts me through the day and night hours. I write because I know there is territory to be discovered and conundrums to be solved…in the process of the writing itself.
It was not until recently, however, that the fuller truth of why I write, and why I mashed around the topic of caring for one’s soul through writing came to light. Natalie Goldberg in Old Friend from Far Away, provided my long-awaited epiphany. She said, “To write is to be in love.”
In Writing Down the Bones, Goldberg asks, “Let’s dare to talk about love for a moment, shall we?”
No one says it but writing induces that state of love. The oven shimmers, the faucet radiates…Right there, sitting with your notebook on your lap, even the factory town you drove through heading north to Denver, the town you hated and prayed no flat tire, no traffic jam would hold you there, even that place while writing about that trip, that day, that year, you caress now. Your life is real. It has texture, detail. Suddenly, it springs alive (22).
Whether it be writing fiction or memoir or journaling, the very act of seeing and attending to the details is itself the miracle of art… and formation.
Anthony DeMello says in the opening lines of his book, Awareness, says that most people, without knowing it live asleep, “marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up.” They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call human experience.
“Waking up is irritating,” says DeMello. “We become comfortable and complacent in our slumber. And it takes time, persistence. It comes oh, so slowly much like meditation, learning to breathe and learning to be still and to pray.”
Illness is what stirred me awake. I realized time and energy were precious commodities. I didn’t want to miss the beauty surrounding me.
Now I want to be present, attentive, reflective, to see beauty, and to worship God in all God’s glory—even as it is reflected in me. No more shrinking to fit, no more hunkering down, being stuck on survive, no more letting details blurr in a sad attempt to conserve energy; barring myself against the noise and anxiety that adrenaline junkies seem to love so much, only to find themselves exhausted and without joy.
Writing is my mountain monastery. It is my psalmic melody, my praise, my love to and for the world; writing is my radical hospitality. These details, the people I write about, even when I tuck them into fiction so that they might remain safe, I allow them to live and search for how they will be redeemed. I see them as more than we can ever see on an ordinary day. They are larger than life. They matter.
I’m just now getting it. Just now.