Monday, February 16, 2015

To Write is to Write is to Write

Last month, reading On Writing Well and The Writer Who Stayed by William Zinsser raised some interesting questions for me.  Am I writing predominantly for the sheer joy of it and/or more because it helps me process my ideas and record my thoughts in a place where they are safe for me to mull over without external interference? 

As I have been reading different columns and magazines, blogs, and online articles in addition to good old fashioned books, it’s occurred to me to wonder what my motivation is for writing.  I like to write and feel compelled to do so.  More recently, I have felt more aware that it is a talent I’m meant to use and need to be responsible for. 

When it comes to what I’m passionate about, sometimes I get lost in a sea of my own “coulds” and “shoulds.”  No matter where I look, it seems I’m reminded of another thing I could or should be doing: organizing, cleaning, decorating, paying bills, balancing checkbooks, doing laundry, writing thank you notes, composing another blogpost, reworking a piece and submitting it to a publisher of periodicals, reading and reviewing books, coming up with some dances to do to the new CDs we have at school which I’ve brought home to listen to during the break… 

I don’t like feeling uneasy, unable to concentrate on or be fully present in the moment.  I feel that I should always be doing something useful and beneficial to other people with my time.  I could be praying or reading something uplifting.  I could always be doing something, but then I’m reminded that I’m a human being addicted to doing.  Do I really believe way deep down in my soul that God, my family, and close friends would love me even if I was not frantically running about from one activity to the next?

Yes, I believe that about God and those closest to me, especially when I slow down long enough to listen and allow myself to be loved and accepted just the way I am.  

I’m brought right back to the theme of my Cursillo weekend in June 2006: “Be Still and Know.” That message and practice of being in God’s presence came at a time when I was pretty anxious and unsure of what was next.  Here's my favorite book on the theme by a local author and fellow Cursillista: Sabbath Presence.  

Can You Hear Me Now?

“This isn’t about me.  This is about a 4th Day obedience to prayer,” a gentleman said, holding up a stack of his journals.  I knew the man giving witness talk at last Friday’s Ultreya was talking to me.  Sometimes, I get away from writing even though I know it is good for my ongoing discernment, prayer, personal growth, and processing through the written (or typed) word.  I had never been to an Ultreya before last Friday at which the witness focused solely on journaling as an important and powerful form of prayer.  Yes, God, I’m listening.  Got the message loud and clear.  Just write! 

Someone asked if my journals are written in the form of letters to God.  I have both regular this is what I did today journals as well as those that are specifically prayer journals.  Often my journal entries in recent years have been a hybrid of the two.  Many times, processing events, thoughts, and feelings through writing leads me to prayer and contemplation.  I used to keep one report of the dailies sort of journal as well as a prayer journal. 

I also tend to write poetry, prose, and verse in some longer pieces of journal entries.  Some of it I share with others and others I don’t.  If only one person on the planet gets to read or hear it, usually that would be Kevin and/or occasionally a cloistered Carmelite.  

On Friday at Mass, the priest spoke about the importance of personal prayer time as well as sharing the riches from that with the community.  I have often thought that if I don't spend ample time in prayer and contemplation, spiritual reading and study, that I won't be grounded or well-read enough to have anything worthwhile saying.  I realize some saints weren't even literate.  I know what I'm lacking in holiness can never be made up or compensated for by how many books I've read.     

Lord, thank You for reminding us in a myriad of ways how we can pray, become closer to You, and live out all of the vocations to which You have called us.  Amen.  
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