There are days when inspiration drips from the corners of my mind, when ideas crowd around and argue about which one came first, when I can type and type and type and the words just keep flowing.
And then there are these still days, slow days when I keep looking over at my bookshelves and thinking about how many stories there are in the world already. How many words. What could I possibly have to add to all of those chapters, all of those covers, all of those sentences? Hasn’t it all been said already?
* * * * *
I think a lot about what it means to be called to do something, what it means to take something on not just for a season but for a lifetime.
“But everything has its season,” they say. “Everything has its time.”
I wonder. I wonder if anything worth doing can be done in less than a lifetime.
* * * * *
This has been a slow spring, the kind of spring where the writing oozes like sap. There are no running taps here – just a quiet, barely discernible gathering. If you wait long enough a drop forms, coming out through a break in the bark. And even when the drop is fully formed, it doesn’t run or glide or slip. Or even drip. No, it simply hovers and waits.
And there it is, the word. The word that has always confounded me, the word that I’m realizing might be my nemesis.
* * * * *
It is 4:30pm and I need to leave the sanctuary of my study. The words were few today. Now I will go down the steps and quiet arguing children, throw Leo into the air until he giggles, kiss Poppy’s plump cheeks. I will try to help with dinner or picking up around the house. Later, we will take two children to soccer practice and sit in the green grass and try to gather the energy to talk to our community, gathered there, watching our children run and kick a ball.
Just before I walk out of my office I stare at the framed quote my friend gave me, years ago now, one of my favorites.
“If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.” So said the character Owen Meany in the John Irving book.
You know, for many years I saw courage as an explosive, powerful force, something made of shields and swords and armor. Storming castles. Once more into the breach and all that. But now, I wonder. I think the courage I need looks more like quietly continuing on, even when the waiting feels interminable, even when the waiting seems to have bested me.
Courage is a quieter thing than I ever imagined.