(A four minute read)
My writing has seemed a little heavy the last few months. I just looked through it and boy are my arms tired. Much too much heavy lifting. This is the joy – and pain – of being a disclosive writer. It builds up my emotional biceps, now bulging with vulnerability. The sweat that pours off my brow is froth from exercising my faith.
You might expect my poetry to be personal, transparent. Free verse-as-memoir, as it were. But shouldn’t essays simply be a Thought Parade of fact after fact, building toward conclusion? Aren’t they for purchasing your time with pique in order to sell you an opinion?
Then why are mine led by the brass band of a momentary idea with floats of metaphor trailing behind? The occasional politician of persuasion waves from a classic convertible. The clowns throw candy. The fire engines wow the kids. The crowd enjoys the moment.
After the procession has passed, I’m older and wiser and yes – less hidden. But the roadway is now empty.
And you? Do you take your folding chair and go home? Or do you linger a while?
The dark night of the soul occasionally visits my address. No matter I didn’t send an invitation. When it does walk in, then the overhead lights don’t work. Life dims. There’s nothing to see inside. I have to roll with this, spending as much time as possible staring out the window. Slow down, brother, there are plenty of clouds to look at, and even dull overcast has a message, it seems.
But then, one day without warning, God says it’s time for transition and everything changes. Suddenly I’m an MGM Dorothy, returning to consciousness, opening the door of my black-and-white battered farmhouse of a world into a full-color Oz. Cue the Munchkins and pass the Golly Gee Whiz.
This new full-color world is just as dangerous as the dull monochrome one. Perhaps more so, because the shiny distractions are shinier. My lizard brain seems to function better. Distraction is now a feature, not a bug. The spring in my step leads to more dancing off the path into deep weeds. The bounce can end with a thud.
So there was an excuse for the heaviness you endured with me (thanks for being there). But (to continue being transparent), there’s something beyond appearances you need to know. When I step outside my own work it seems strange to read so much contemplation from a guy who used to write comedy and satire for a living. Oh well, that was another era.
As you might suspect after reading Paul’s letter to the Romans, that guy’s dead anyway. If you don’t get that joke, don’t worry. I know I can be obtuse. Just move on.
Back on topic, such as it is. My spiritual resting state is often one of contemplation, although this almost invariably occurs in a place of great joy. Salvation creates joyful identity, after all. If it doesn’t, I’m not doing it right; it ain’t Jesus’ fault, even when the sky is cloudy.
This joy may not always be apparent in what I write, I’ve concluded. And – true confession – the past couple of months have been full of wrestling with some spiritual matters. Very Jacobean of course, and it always ends with me limping. It’s unclear why I still attempt the match, since I’m always over-matched.
If these bouts have ever ended with an ‘I-won’t-let-go-of-you-until-you-bless-me’ demand I’m not aware of it.
What I am aware of is that some of my writing doesn’t seem to have that wry chuckle I always hear inside myself. That twinkle I see in my own eye. No, it seems to mirror what someone very close to me refers to as my ‘resting face.’ That’s the one where I appear to either have no expression, or perhaps look somewhat piqued.
It’s all physical. After 65 years of gravity, my face is naturally a bit saggy. I have to actively work to keep that boyish grin beaming at you. As for the writing, well – like me myself – it’s still a work in progress.