At the beginning of this year, I declared that I wanted to practice writing words I can’t take back. I did and I have, but I keep finding myself not doing that consistently.
Like this morning, for example, I had grand plans to drive directly home and begin to write after taking the girls to school, but instead I somehow found myself with one foot in a cute brown boot in the shoe aisle at Target at the productive hour of 8:15.
Two packages of poster board, one package of stickers, a latte and a library book later, here I sit in my office wondering what is wrong with me. I long for the time to write when the family is home and then avoid it when the house is empty.
I am coming to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong except that I am, in fact, a writer. And putting off writing is often what we do best.
Seriously though, I think sometimes I avoid the page for the same reasons I avoid silence: I’m anxious over what I might find there.
Or worse, that I might not find anything at all.
In some ways I see my job as a writer as one of turning over rocks: I’m not always sure I’ll understand or like what’s beneath the surface, but curiosity insists I turn it over anyway.
And while it’s true that I would often rather not face what critters might be hiding there and that I would often prefer to sit on the rock and watch Netflix, facing my questions by turning over rocks helps me become more fully myself.
And the way I do that is through writing.
When I don’t know where to begin, it’s good to start with what I know for sure about us, you and me:
We want more connecting and less competing.
We want more laughter and less shame.
We want more love and less fear.
The last few weeks I’ve been digging around in my soul to find out what connection, laughter, and love means for my life and the life of my family.
A month ago I told Marion, my spiritual director, that I feel as though I am in the midst of a transitional time. John is nearly a year into his new ministry (!!), my fourth book is launched into the world (!!) and the girls are settled in to their first few months of middle school.
Many things I have been looking toward are now past and I am living in the exhale.
Marion encouraged me to let this open space remain open, to resist the urge to fill it with the next thing. I agreed with her completely, but as I’ve lived into those words I’m realizing how difficult it is to keep the margins wide.
It’s easier to fill a space then it is to keep it empty.
These words from John O’Donohue help, from To Bless the Space Between Us:
You are in this time of the interim where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out; the way forward is still concealed from you.
You cannot lay claim to anything; In this place of dusk, your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror. As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander.
This call which is loosening your roots in false ground, that you might come free from all you have outgrown.
I don’t have great answers yet, but I see shapes in the distant fog. And for that, I am thankful.
So I will keep writing privately and also here. I will keep turning over rocks. I will keep sitting in the silence even when nothing changes. I will keep listening and waiting and watching. I will keep accepting the invitation of Jesus to be a child in his presence without an agenda.
If you long to create margin but don’t know how, I hope to be kind company, both for your soul and for mine. Sometimes we forget to be kind to ourselves, don’t we? Join me on The Bench for a monthly reminder to create the space your soul needs.
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