I miss writing.
I believe a small kind of joy erupts every time you express yourself in a creative act–from coloring a picture as a four year old to choosing an outfit as an eight year old. These acts of creativity reveal to ourselves more fully who we are–and to others, too. That’s the vulnerable part. When my children come to show me their pictures/Lego creations/ written work, I know they are really showing me a vulnerable part of themselves and I try to react accordingly.
So, writing is this kind of creative act, but to the nth degree. I look back on the posts I wrote last summer and I am amazed at my own freedom. Writing is incredibly, embarrassingly presumptuous. There is no getting away from that fact, so I won’t attempt it. In the safety of my life at home, words came freely, went out freely. But I stepped out of that little nest this last year. I had no time for words. Up early every morning, drive, teach, work, manage, drive home, hold, cuddle, cook, tuck, bed, exhaustion. Repeat.
Writing is reflection and there was little time for that. Life transforms us, but into what? My faith looked differently before, and I don’t recognize it right now. I don’t know. I don’t know if that not recognizing is like a maturing, as though it grew into some kind of awkward adolescent whilst I was so busy all year, or if it atrophied like an injured calf muscle from disuse. I don’t know yet. I’ve always found my way through to seeing what God is doing through writing, but I didn’t write, not even in a journal, and so I do not know. I trust I will see in time.
Sometimes I catch myself in an ugly moment–a word spoken unkindly, a bad joke, impatience, bitterness, jealousy, and I wonder if my faith did atrophy this year–starved by the lack of time spent in solitary Bible study during naptimes. Other times, I think of fields that lie fallow, but always the harvest will return, the Spirit will coax, raise up anew. I try not to overreact with fear. That is better left in younger years.
I am going to Nicaragua again. I confess that I wanted to back out–several times. Because I was tired and exhausted from school and family during the year and I couldn’t imagine having anything to offer at the end of June. I couldn’t imagine flying countless miles away from my children whom I missed terribly. But I didn’t back out. Because I had given my word. Because Tim kept relentlessly preaching the horrible importance of missions from Revelation Sunday after Sunday. Because I knew summer would bring me back to myself and I’d spend every waking moment with the children and soothe the mom-guilt monster, and because I wanted them to know why I go. Because I want to be soul-beautiful, and I believe in serving the least of these–in Nicaragua, Springfield, Marionville, wherever. That makes it sound so glamorous and it is so, so not glamorous. But finally, I wanted to go because I know of no better way to revive a tired spirit than to go on mission. A sour sponge needs a good squeeze to be emptied of all the old rot and be used vigorously and squeezed out again until fresh and clean. I need that.
In the cold middle of winter, a team member and I traveled into Springfield to get some updates on the ministry. And our Nicaragua coordinator was there and she didn’t recognize us right away. She explained that we look so different here in the US, with our makeup and our work clothes and our hair all coiffed (ok, she didn’t say coiffed, but she did say the other stuff). In Nicaragua, we don’t fuss with our appearance. We work, we sweat, we smell. We cultivate the invisible beauty that is found only in selfless service. It’s not a pretty process. All the most sacred processes in this work are not pretty in progress. Birth, adolescence, book-writing, law-making, art, sex.
Summer is sacred, too. Vacation and family and friends and Nicaragua too. Sacred, messy processes that I love and embrace.
Enjoy summer, my friends. I know I will.