For a long time I did not appreciate how writing called to me. It insisted on a relationship, the terms and conditions of which were mysterious. I didn’t resist so much as continue looking away. We think there is time. We think we can get to it tomorrow. How much loneliness and pain is rooted in our indifference to self-knowledge?
I cannot read more than a few lines or sentences of satisfying prose and poetry without turning to my own work. We long to recreate joy. Some writers call this the generative impulse, this urge to create with the written word. When I cannot talk, when I cannot see my way to the other side of a conflict, I can always write. And I almost always do. It is a question of seeing God and – seeing God – of wanting to extend God.
Increasingly it is clear that writing is the means by which I apprehend A Course in Miracles and so – necessarily – the means by which I extend that understanding. There isn’t much value in analyzing this sort of thing. We are each one of us given considerable gifts that, when turned over to the Holy Spirit, become more than just recreational tools. They become the essence of Heaven itself. When I write – when the writing is writing – I sort of forget the self that is otherwise so assertive and bothersome.
In “A Thousand Kisses Deep” Leonard Cohen sings “I guess they won’t exchange the gifts/That you were meant to keep.”
Resistance postpones the joy of knowing God through extending God. Why wait?
In one of the Course’s most beautiful and significant – and helpful – chapters (Rules for Decision), Jesus says a couple of things that leap out. “It is not wise to let yourself become preoccupied with every step you take (T-30.I.1:4).” In a sense, he is referring to the steps he is about to introduce – the questions we use to start our day and reinvigorate it if we wander away from the calm center.
But I think it is good advice for the life with the Course generally. The point is not to become obsessed with everything we do – was this forgiving? Was that? – but to commit – and recommit as necessary – to Jesus and the Holy Spirit and then just do what’s in front of us with them. If you’re called to write, then write. If the kids need somebody to sled with them, go sledding. And so forth. If the end is sure, then why not enjoy the journey, as much as possible? Getting worked up over every step is another way of saying that we are not yet ready to trust Jesus. And while not trusting him doesn’t make the sky rain bloody nails, it does mean that we are going to be a little more unhappy and a little more confused for a little while longer. Why postpone Heaven?
The other thing he says – and I like this very much – is “Do not fight yourself (T-30.I.1:7). The italics belong to Jesus. His emphasis is clear. The Course is about being natural. Tara Singh used to say to his students that thought was natural so why try to eradicate it? We don’t get so worked up about waterfalls and bird song. If something isn’t clicking, if it isn’t flowing, then try something else. I don’t often have to muscle through writing. It’s just there. It flows. I would have loved to be a guitarist, a wandering singer yodeling about the Christ, but while I can hold my own with a six-string, it too often feels like walking around in shoes that don’t fit. You know? You like the look but you can’t really put any miles on them.
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is not about complicating our lives. It aims to simplify. It aims to make things easier and clearer. Clarity breeds happiness. Happiness breeds gratitude and gratitude breeds the urge to extend love. For me that happens when I write – literally in the moment of the writing itself. I forget I’m trying to wake up. I forget that I’m a student of A Course in Miracles.
What is it for you? Where in your life do you forget yourself? Can you go there more? It’s that place where desire urges you on and ability says, yes, I can manage it. Let’s go. I’m not saying it isn’t scary or that there aren’t days when you want to wave the white flag. At least once a month I think about shuttering the blog and spending more time writing rhyming couplets. Or organizing against the death penalty. Or opening a bread store. Or reinvigorating my law degree so that I can do some professional mediation.
But a lot of those ideas just sort of show up and then disappear. They come and go like clouds. Writing is the sky in which they move. I guess that’s the other way we can know our function. It never quite fades. It’s like Jesus is always waiting to just plant another reminder. Hey, if you could do this little thing for me . . .
Saving the world sounds sexy but in truth it’s just about becoming what we are. It’s about turning it over to Jesus and then getting out of the way. You won’t believe what you can do when you finally let go and let love in.