Wednesday, January 22, 2014

living in the digging times

Sometimes when I write for you I simply sit down and pour out the words that are spilling over, leaving me in a puddle of thoughts.
Those words are birthed from the emotional, relational, sharing side of me.
The part of me that suddenly sees a series of dots connecting one to another to create a picture that I can hardly wait to draw.

Sometimes the picture is breathtakingly beautiful and other times it is ugly and unresolved.  But always it offers a clear vision even before I strike the first key.  The color and shading may develop as I write but the penciled outline already exists.  The finished product is already revealing itself.

And then there is another kind of writing I offer you too.

These words are drawn up from the well of my information-loving soul.  From the place where I have more questions than answers.
I take one part writing and mix it with five parts research.  I shift into learning mode and begin digging up new knowledge.

The dot connecting becomes more laborious and less automatic because I don't know exactly what I'm looking for.  Despite the sweat I break, I'm always drawn into the journey from pages to pictures to songs to screen.

This kind of writing begins well but often ends feeling like plain ole hard work instead of art...especially when all the digging leaves me with only a handful of words that clean up well enough to be used.  Sometimes hours of work winds up tossed into the recycle bin...or worse - the garbage can by the road.

Art feels both ways at times.
And so does life.

Last night I came downstairs to find my husband sitting alone in a quiet kitchen staring at the wall.  When I asked what he was doing he said - just thinking.
I pulled up a chair across from him in silence.
After a few moments I asked - what are you thinking?
I'm not sure.
That answer always perplexes me, but I give it myself sometimes.
Rather than prodding I waited.
I knew the dots were not connecting with ease and there may be some pieces of the picture being unearthed in his head and heart.  I've been there.  I am there.

What followed the silence was a conversation about living in the digging times.

We didn't call it that.
We discussed struggling with a lack of motivation.  We lamented over living without clear direction.
We asked a lot of questions and couldn't find the answers in all the words we exchanged.

In the digging times I often find myself with dusty holes all around me and still no art to offer...
no finished product...
nothing that seems to connect or make any sense.
Art and life can be born from digging times but always the digging must come to an end and we must come back to ourselves.
I often have questions about how to parent
or what kind of diet our family should follow
or how I should handle a particular situation with my family
or what my role is at work
or how I should spend my time
or what I should write about...
and I set off to find the answers.
I dig in books
and websites
and YouTube videos
and social media
and magazine articles
and the advice of friends
and the advice of experts
and before I know it I stand up and look behind me to find a trail of holes that have led me so far from where I began.
At some point the digging has to stop and I have to stand up, dust off my hands and turn around.
At some point I have to acknowledge that there is plenty more information I could unearth but that it will only lead me further from home.
At some point I have to rely on my own two feet to take me where I need to go.
At some point all the doing of digging must give way to being and belief.

If today you find yourself covered in dirt and weary from the searching maybe it's time to pause.
Maybe you've done enough digging on this matter and now it's time to just sit alone in a quiet kitchen and let your art and your life come together in it's perfect time.

Take the shiny valuable pieces you have found so far and offer them up, leaving the worthless ones behind.

And always...always...make sure your deepest hole is dug in the Truth.