Monday, February 29, 2016

the breath, the Spirit, the beginning

There is always something happening, even it if is only the breath.
                                                                                                            -Alicia Jo Rabins

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering...
                                                                                                            -Genesis 1:2

Writing hasn't come easily the past few weeks. Ideas that feel promising when I think of them on my drive to work fall flat when I sit in front of a computer to type them out. I hold down the delete button to eat my words back up. I can tell you it has something to do with working through some hard-wired shame, which makes words feel too small and throws everything into chaos, something like that "without form," that darkness that existed before the light did.

Speaking of chaos, there's a lot of it right now. And I'm not just talking about politics and race and the things we all see posted all over Facebook. There are broken marriages, there is cancer, there are interrupted dreams and unanswered prayers. The other day, my dad's car slipped on ice, and now his body is sore muscles and painful bruises. I didn't hear about it until my mom texted me three days after it happened. I didn't know what to text back.

Sometimes writing feels like this, like groping around in the dark for the right words to counter deep fears and uneasy hurts. But then I've heard some writers talk about how, after periods of long silence, certain stories flowed right out of them. They weren't easy stories, but the words had germinated inside for months or years, who knows how. When it was time, out they came, ordered and beautiful and full of the stuff that pierces darkness and covers over shame. A whole universe, it seems, formed of words.

The past few months, I feel as if I'm being taken back to a beginning, learning where words come from and how to use them. In the beginning was the Word... and through Him all things were made. I go back and forth about how explicitly I want my faith to show through my writing. I've been timid because of the way Christian artists get labeled as sentimental, derivative, not as quality. Words like Jesus and the cross are somehow too definitive and carry too much baggage. Better to be vaguely spiritual, to use words like faith or spirit (with a lowercase "s"). But when I think about using words, it is God's Word that I want to fill my heart first, to show me how to speak them in way that brings light, that opens up darkness. Without him was not anything made that was made.

Spirit of God, hover. Be the Word that is in the beginning.

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