Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Satisfied Writer

“The taking up of the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the
continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.”
John Henry Newman

Today I was salivating over a job that would take me away from home for several weeks, a writer’s residency in another state. The writer-in-residence would teach one class a week and then spend the rest of her time doing nothing but writing. It sounds heavenly except for the fact that during those weeks away from home my duties as a wife, mom, and ministry leader would fall into neglect. But the thought of it lured my thoughts into a tranquil reverie.

Seriously, do you ever daydream about a life where all you have to do is write? No taking care of children or spouses or church duties. No answering emails or telephone calls. No strain or stress of the responsibilities to hold body and soul together. Morning and night, writing and more writing.

In the middle of my daydream, reality broke through. I imagined that hour in the afternoon where my youngest son comes lugging his book bag up the stairs, grinning, telling me about his day, the prom and the girl he’s invited to escort there, or the good grade he made on a test. And then I imagined missing that or missing my oldest running in between college classes and his job to give me a kiss. I get a kiss in the morning and one at night. He never forgets me. Then there’s that spoon thing I’d miss every evening when my husband crawls into bed next to me and we talk about all that happened that day and what the Lord did and how hard it was or how amazed we were. Or excited. Or let down, but still, even that is living. Or what would I miss if I couldn’t attend my small group? Would I continue to grow and stay challenged to mature in my faith? And what of the myriad of people I meet in my life because the Lord has seen fit to place me right here in this tiny apex of the universe that is occupied only by me and God in me? How would my life be enriched without those generous souls?

Then I wondered what in the world I’d write about if all I ever did was write, write, write. Would there be another story to tell and would it be worth telling? In Jeremiah, God says, “I will satiate the soul of the priest with abundance, And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.” There are times when carrying the load of wordsmith feels too heavy and I want to give it a new shape, dissatisfied with the old shape. I strain under it and fantasize about relief. I forget what goodness is poured into my life through, as John Newman once said, “the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.” I have to remind myself that the load I carry is not one of words but of souls. My hope is that I’m able one day to say to God that the things I carried in life were, okay, heavy; but only with humans.