Like the endless flow of a waterfall, plummeting to the rocks below, the words tumbled out. Free and uninhibited, they were a reflection of all I felt in the moment. I knew the end I had in mind but not the exact words and as they flowed, almost writing themselves, I realized the way my mind worked out the middle as I wrote.
Surprised at the result, I didn’t even realize what I thought until I saw it on the screen. It’s an amazing thing, seeing order come from chaos. A jumble of thoughts becomes a piece of art.
Writing feels that way—sometimes.
Other times it’s more like a clogged pipe. I know what I want to say but the words get caught in the plumbing somewhere and drip out slowly, painfully.
Whether you write or not, I’m sure you know what I mean.
We all have ways that we reflect on our inner life. Maybe you journal or create art. Maybe you talk it out with God while you run or you work it out in conversation with a friend. We all need an outlet and a place where what is going on inside of us becomes clear.
Sometimes the clarity is easy. Other times our minds are clouded and our souls feel cluttered. The causes are different but the result is the same.
Transition. Instability. The unknown.
Plans to make. Plans that break.
Symptoms. A diagnosis.
I don’t know what it is for you but a life in transition and facing so much unknown in my life right now has my mind cluttered and my soul aching for stillness and clarity.
At times in my life, I have worked out the chaos in the dance studio, with feet to the pavement, through art, with friends.
Words have always been easy for me, though. Journals are piled up around my house. Poems fill notebooks and essays are scattered around the internet.
Words are my prayer, my worship. They are the way I listen to what God is saying in the deep reaches of my heart.
When what usually feels easy suddenly feels like work, it’s usually a signal that something is awry. At times like that, it’s easy to quit the hard work of reflection, to run from the discomfort.
But I’ve found it’s those very times that we need to press into the thing that feels hard. That’s when the real work begins.
Last year I wrote every day in October, joining hundreds of other writers for Write 31 Days. I found a writing rhythm, found my voice. I also found out how beautiful writing in community can be.
Writing has become more than just cathartic for me. It’s become a calling I can’t deny. I work to hone my craft and become a better writer, to edit and put out a finished piece.
It’s also become work and I am so grateful to have people who value my words and my opinion. I have weekly obligations as an editor and pieces I’m expected to write.
And something of the joy of those flowing words has diminished.
When relationships feel like work, we love anyway.
When writing feels like work, I need to do it anyway.
Christine Valters Painter says in The Artists Rule that “when we engage art as prayer, we can remember that play is also an act of prayer, praising God out of sheer delight. We can learn to take ourselves—our art and our spirituality—a little less seriously.”
My word for this year is practice and as I work out the spiritual practices that feed my soul, my art intertwined with that, I want to get back to the practice of writing as a flow of prayer and reflection.
So, I’m jumping in again and writing every day in October 2016. It’s going to look a little different this year.
I’m joining others who use the Five Minute Friday writing prompts. A single word is the start of the exercise and the idea is to write freely for five minutes on whatever that word brings to mind. Free. Unedited. Just see what comes and put it out there.
“In patiently practicing faith, even when I don’t much feel like it, I eventually begin to feel the burden lift,” says Michelle DeRusha. This month as I continue to reflect on my word of the year, practice, I am writing through that lens of practicing faith in the every day. How that brings us into fellowship with God. How that brings us into freedom.