Making Something is Hopeful

I’m in Rockport today, taking a break from what has been a busy, crazy schedule. Fog covers the area stretching out over the ocean, creating a thick blanket over both reality and imagination.

We drove up yesterday, one of the many cars leaving the city during afternoon rush hour. While the morning offered bright sunshine, clouds rolled in during the afternoon and a light rain was falling by the time we arrived. The minute we drove over the bridge on the highway leaving the mainland and heading into Gloucester and then Rockport a deep peace always settles over me. Gone is the frantic pace of city living. Gone is the worry about contacting people who need to be contacted whether it be via email or phone. Gone is the sense of urgency or guilt of not doing enough.

Ahead is peace, quiet, order, and rest. I am well aware that this is a luxury not shared by so many in our world, well aware of the privilege of rest and peace. I have found that the necessary response is not guilt but gratitude. Not anxious worry that I’m not doing enough but inner peace that will allow me to do well in whatever task is put before me.

As often happens when I stop, I find tears close to the surface. The tears spilled over into a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law and after the phone call ended, I sent a text thanking them for holding my tears. We all need tear-holders in our lives. It’s amazing how much peace I feel after a good, long cry, the weight and burden of tears finding a shared space instead of staying bottled up in isolation.

We are heading into the home stretch of Lent in my faith tradition, with Holy Week just one week away. I am ready for the Paschal celebration of all things new, and if I’m honest, the accompanying eggs, milk, and meat that signify that Lent (and the vegan diet accompanying Lent) is over.

Things outside of me and my control feel difficult. Whether front page news or the resulting commentary from all of us about the front-page news, or actions of others that can’t be controlled, it all feels too much. In a word – it feels hopeless. And this is why I write. Because when I write, I never feel hopeless. I feel hope and joy. I feel ready to move forward. The act of creating is a catalyst that propels me out of sadness or grief into a world full of imagination and hope. So today, I needed to write, to get a few words out to you, but mostly to me.

One of my favorite recent reads is the book Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri. I had begun reading the Kindle version when I received the print version from one of my sons for my birthday. I had already decided I wanted to buy the hardcopy, so it was a surprise and delight to receive it as a gift. I could never write a review of this book. It far too original and creative, and my words would never do it justice. But I want to end with a quote from the book that describes what I feel about the world and about writing.

Does writing [poetry] make you brave? It is a good question to ask. I think making anything is a brave thing to do. Not like fighting brave, obviously. But a kind that looks at a horrible situation and doesn’t crumble.

Making anything assumes there’s a world worth making it for. That you’ll have someplace, like a clown’s pants, to hide it when people come to take it away. I guess I’m saying making something is a hopeful thing to do. And being hopeful in a world of pain is either brave or crazy.

Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

I write because there’s a world worth writing for. May your weekend hold hope and life and may you make something, anything actually, because it’s a world worth making something for.

Coming up Empty

What do you do when you come up empty? 

My pen is poised but I come up empty. Thoughts should be swirling – there are enough ideas to last a life time in the city. But my eyes are not communicating to my brain, and my brain is not communicating to my pen. I feel like I have nothing of substance to say.

It’s this that tells me I need a break, need to rest awhile. My tired body and brain are on overdrive and it shows in my inability to create.

This happens in life. We come up empty. Like being in line at a fruit stand longing for the taste of the golden banana, ripe enough but not too ripe; or the deep red strawberries, plumper than we’ve ever seen – only to find that we have no money; our purse or pockets are empty. The disappointment is acute and though we may try bribing or bargaining our way into the grace of the fruit stand man, we rarely walk away with what we planned.

Unlike the fruit stand, I don’t have to bargain or bribe my way out of this. “Seek the Lord and his strength” I am told in the Book by my bedside. “Seek his presence continually.”* the written words speak and challenge from the page.

My job is to keep writing and rest in the outcome. Keep trusting that words will come, put together just as my Creator intends. And to rest in the God who knows my frame.

I don’t know where you are today – but I know that there are times where life comes up empty and blank.  Perhaps this is when we are most willing and ready to have God write our page in words that are powerful with ink that won’t fade.

What do you do when you come up empty? 

*1 Chronicles 16:11