Natalie Goldberg – the same Natalie Goldberg that challenged me to attack the why of my writing life – is nothing, if not full of challenges. If you haven’t picked up Writing Down the Bones yet, you should. For a bit I used each 1-2 page essay as a writing prompt, but sometimes I just needed to keep reading. To let it soak in. Write later. Sometimes life overflows, and the writing life needs to overflow with it, even when pen and paper, keyboard and mouse, aren’t available. Even when they are. They are not the only tools we have, after all.
Carry the poem away from the desk and into the kitchen. ~ Natalie Goldberg
Again, so similar to our faith. Carry the prayer away from the church, out of the icon corner, and into the kitchen, or the garden, or the office. Live the faith. In life. Crazy idea.
Writing is a mill of the same breed. Writing is a silhouette of idealism. The dichotomy – that I can write myself perfect, or write myself as I wish to be written, and then walk away from my words and settle back into the real me that bears no resemblance – mirrors the separation of church and state in the terrain of my heart. You could call it hypocrisy. I believe a better word would be tragedy.
Just as our faith must not only inform, but form our lives, that idealistic facet of the writing life must also form us. Challenge us. Push us to the next rung on the ladder. Further up. Further in. Faith is nothing if it does not touch our lives; writing must be held to that same standard. If it is so damned important, it should touch our lives. It should touch our faith.
And our faith, that most essential component to our life, should touch it, as coals to lips. We should not be some disjointed mess of a psyche: our churchly selves, our writerly selves, and the disconnected selves that fill the rest of the void. We must work to bring them all together into one. A convergence of our jumbled reality into one complete, coherent entity.
May the divide grow narrower each day,