Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 27


Faith is a mysterious process of following the voice of God, accompanied by hard work and wisdom. -Sally Clarkson
When I try to write there are two things which present themselves, every time: one is who do I think that I am to have anything at all to say? There are so many brilliant people saying brilliant things, let them do this job. The second is that it is selfish; there are many more practical things requiring my energy and attention.

I tried not to write this year. I surrendered it, obeyed the nagging voices. I gave all of my energy to the practical and the necessary. I am a firstborn and by nature, if nothing else, utterly responsible. The year was crammed full, and much easier than writing.

It is easier to fly through the day by reaction than by creation. It is much simpler to do what needs to be done than to wait and listen. Like Martha I am every woman: set in motion, finding my identity by what I can accomplish while at the same time complaining about it.

My negative voices tell me that writing is both selfish and arrogant. But my year long experiment found that the opposite is true.

Writing is an act of listening. It is a way to pay attention.

I want to live a listening life. I love to listen, I believe it is the way God made me. Writing is a way- one way- of listening.

I am watching friends of mine flourish, finding purpose and passion in many different ways. Not all by writing, but I think, at the heart, these friends who are finding their life's work or meaning: what they are doing is listening. At their center they are kneeling and listening, and out of that comes this beautiful work and beautiful living.

There will always be practical work to be done. There is a time to write novels and there is a time to clean toilets and there is no formula. The only rule we are given is to abide in Christ; seek, knock, ask . . . listen. We will know what to do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 26

I woke up this morning on the bottom bunk. We go through this routine still every few weeks, they all want a turn to sleep with me. I will miss this of course. When I woke my first view was of the backyard and it surprised me, how pretty it is in the summer morning light, how ordered and green.

Last summer it was this:


and this:


Last summer was mud everywhere, and before that a forest of overgrown shrubs and a drainage problem. I didn't want to even look out the window for a year. It seemed like such a terribly long process but little by little it's improved. We fixed the drainage problem, put in a patio, added some landscaping and swings, and a dog.

There is still a corner that's a mess, waiting for a shed. Some days all I can think about is that corner and miss all of the beauty and progress.


Working retail is a perspective on how fixated the United States is with this, perfection. I see how hard people work to achieve some impossible perfecting of their homes or bodies, missing the great delight of life in the pursuit. It makes me more grateful for our simple life and little home and small improvements. It makes me want to stay small and quiet and ordinary.

Today is one of our first full days at home of the summer. I love waking up and knowing we don't have to go anywhere. I am a bit anxious that summer is passing and I'm not summering. You know, summering- to putter, to dawdle, to loll. Today is for lolling. 

Annie is listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on audio. Sam is downstairs playing lego. Josie is pestering me for ways to earn money. I am giving her a dollar to not ask me anymore questions for a few minutes. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21

I am claiming some space for writing in the morning, Lucy our puppy curled up beside me on the sofa. This is not as idyllic as it sounds. Lucy, of course, is not permited to be on the sofa, but after dragging her off so many times and trying to write, I give up. It is the one place she will sit calmly for two minutes and not be chewing on chords or furniture or causing me to jump every five seconds . . . (I just jumped). Having a puppy is a lot like having a toddler but more . . . ambiguous. All day long I am wondering does Lucy need exercise, is she bored, does she feel included, does she feel loved? Is Lucy hot? Is she cold? Was I too harsh with her? And then she pees in my shoes. 


We spent the weekend visiting friends. What a dull sentence, how loaded with life! I met these friends years ago when we lived and worked together in Haiti. Surely it wasn't a perfect community but my memory claims it was. No, better than perfect; for a time. It will never happen again I'm sure. Life doesn't go on, it just grows taller and broader with people we've loved. 


It was so good to be together and to remember . . . remember the way we could talk and talk, remember the smoky air, remember the breezes. Life was just beginning, I believed in everything. I was utterly selfish, I was utterly hopeful. 

I can't stay up nearly so late now. I've learned to be quite responsible, much more afraid. Sometimes you need to reach deep, deep down into your life and remember what is real, what you wanted after all. 


I've been thinking about the fields white unto harvest and how we are called always to the present, always to what is growing right beside us. But things grow from what is planted, the past lives on and I think we get to choose, to a large extent, what grows. I can't go back to Haiti but I can write, I can teach my kids, I can love people here. There is so much living to be done.

Summer is blowing past and I'm soaking up the moments. It is the best time of the year. 


"She conceived of life as a road down which one traveled, an easy enough road through a broad country, and that one's destination was there from the very beginning, a measured distance away, standing in the ordinary light like some plain house where one went in and was greeted by respectable people and was shown to a room where everything one had ever lost or put aside was gathered together, waiting.” Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping