When going to write I feel very much like an architect walking up to her drafting table, rolling out the blank parchment; formulating a blueprint that will then culminate into a structure. From vision to form. Idea to function. Dream to visible beauty. What drives me to my draft is the idea, a desire to lay lines on a page that will become a structure of thought, a completed piece of artwork. What can stay the process and stop construction is when I “lose the fish”. What I mean by fish is, this silver piece of life; yeast that holds within it the sustenance and growth of an entire litany of words and worlds. I’ll be ensconced with my daily routines when the “voice”, or the perfect sentence or flood of descriptors will flash through my mind the way the sun reflects off the fish in Lake Loudon when Valerie and I throw our lines off the dock while the heat throws itself around our necks. If I don’t write it down on a napkin or squish my own ink around the lining of a book page- I let it slip right on through and the words are never written, the image never found again and the house is never built. Very much like that time you didn’t say what you needed to say and can’t find the words to say it again. For instance, My Best Friends Wedding; Julia Roberts is about to tell Dermot Melroney how she truly feels and you can tell he’s anticipating the truth but she hesitates, and they slide under the bridge and the moment is gone entirely; it fell into the water, and fell away. Or it’s like that time, when looking back you realize you shouldn’t have said anything at all, but you did, and you lost the beauty of the silence, and it can’t be recreated or reclaimed. Now clearly I lose the fish a lot judging from the date of my last blog post and the fact that I’m racing towards 30 and haven't crossed “Become a NY Times Best Selling Author” off my Bucket List. Yet sometimes I am successful in the catching the fish- but then, I throw it back. I have a tendency to start projects and if within the first two pages I haven’t created The Taj Mahal I lose interest and send the fish into the “Documents” abyss, a pool teeming with cleverly titled ideas on white screens that have 4,000 words, and nothing more. It’s almost as if I want every sentence to have the same effect of; “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” When it doesn’t, I release it. Though I was kindly reminded that A Tale of Two Cities is one of the best English works of the 19th century, if not history. But have you ever known me NOT to have lofty aspirations?! In all seriousness, it’s a challenge I need to overcome if I ever want to sincerely see my words bound up and built up; given a spine and a life. I need to start laying foundation upon foundation if I ever want to build my castle in the sky. It means writing sprints to prepare for the marathons, catching little blue gills before heading off to spear the white whale. It means writing about the every day, ordinary pieces of life. It means capturing Gods provision and love for me inside the sticky fingers of my nephew or the flowerpots overturned by bladder challenged puppies. It means putting my poetry down line at a time, because even “Midway upon the journey of our life” had to be written before the author finished at “The Love that moves the sun and stars.”
Now, I could and would never presume to possess the prowess of Dickens and Dante, and I am fair content to simply be a reader of words and sit quietly at the hearth of giants; but it seems that even to withhold even the simplest, haphazard of prose would be unsettling. There’s almost a strain of anxiety that’s laced within the locking up of words or an artist ceasing to paint. So write I will; of sunsets that slice behind the Northern mountains and moons that reflect off of arctic cold lakes and a niece with eyes brown as coffee beans and taking sips of coffee when it’s already turned ice cold, or getting the worlds worst haircut a day before the worlds best date. It means painting and sketching and framing the simple musings of what might have been, what is, and what will be.
Over the past year God has been teaching me to trust Him with the “what will be”- when I wandered in the desert places He was gracious to send manna. When I searched for the ram in the thicket He was clear to reveal that it always was, and always has been His Son. In this past year He has knocked through walls in my heart; implemented more of His lines and functions; bringing His vision into form and crafting more of the women He’s designed. He has asked for sacrifice, He’s called me to speak the words He’s given. He’s made dreams come true and altered destination courses. He’s taken away and He has given. Recently He’s gifted me with the wonderful opportunity to work for my company remotely- I absolutely love my new job and I am so thankful and excited for all that this team will develop and change. The fact that it allows me to spend the most time I’ve spent with my older sister in the past 5 years makes me overwhelmingly lucky. Not to mention that closing down the laptop and picking up a niece or nephew is a treasure. Even when I don’t understand exactly what Eva means when she yells at the remote while we’re watching Cinderella or Liam flips himself over in the midst of changing an intensely saturated diaper, spreading out its warm contents with splendid flair. There’s something I observed spending time with my niece and nephew. I noticed that it’s not the tears of the child that’s so bad as much as the pause right before the cry; the quiet before the squall. When their expression is altered to one of betrayal, color floods their cheeks and they begin to pull in all of their breath to let out a cry. It’s the anticipation of the wailing, and the understanding that I caused their distress that’s more upsetting to me. More often than not they’re crying over something you did or didn’t to them that they don’t understand…and they definitely don’t see that it was for their good. Eva’s indignation that I would dare pull her away from the porch ledge overshadows the reality that the barrier had fallen down and needed pushed back up. My intense love and care for her prevents me from giving her what she wants, in order to save her from falling down 18 white wooden steps. I pondered this as Eva curled back up into the nape of my neck- when there is an ache I don’t understand do I pull in my breath to let out a whimper? or to pray? Does my face reflect betrayal when it should project trust? Is my reactive moment to collect all my misgivings and expel them in anxious pleas….or do I pause in wonder at sovereignty…..
I reached out and placed my finger on the pulse of the moment; finding in it the design of a Creator and words from a holy Carpenter saying “if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.”
The Scripture presses in, leaving the yoke a little lighter; “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Here was a reminder of a Father who knows exactly why the foundation is poured a certain way, because He is building something to behold, a vision that is beautiful and good. Here lay affirmation that I can live each day holding on to the words that were written for sustenance, bread kneaded with yeast and promise, a daily nourishment; “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love Him….”
For my good.
There may be many moments of weeping in my life- and certainly, in a world and society marked with tragedy; with bombings and protests and murder and war. When mothers weep for starving children, sisters breathe off of machines and young widows stand as a soul silhouette aching at the loss of her other half- I know there will be moments of justifiable grief and disappointment over unanswered yearnings. Yet as He is here in simplicity, will He be there in complexity. As He reigns in the rejoicing so will He draw near to us in the groaning. When we find ourselves looking up at the open skies or cathedral ceilings wondering what we will have; the merciful answer we find in the Voice older than time itself rings out; “you will have Me.” When I pass over the waters of what I don’t understand, might I be given the strength to draw in my breath and from my depths, whisper a prayer of faith. To hold on to the Savior and with my voice emanate those precious words; “When peace like a river attendeth my way- when sorrows like sea billows roll- Whatever my lot, God has taught me to say; it is well. It is well with my soul."