American Waiting

Writing is ritual.  I come to my computer each day, with a cup of coffee in the morning or a cup of tea in the evening, and I sit and think.  I pace, a lot.  Brooke put up a whiteboard for me, next to my desk.  I scrawl on it with different colored markers; I erase and add ideas.  I pace.  Sometimes, I read poetry or listen to music.  I sit again and write a word or a thousand words.  I pace.  I am a human body-soul being, and my body needs to move to jumpstart my soul.

I often don’t feel like writing.  After a long day and getting stuck in traffic on the way home, Ellis is in bed and I could sit and read or watch television, but I don’t.  I perform my ritual.

I write, as one of my professors in grad school said, because I love having written.  I love the moments after turning a phrase or capturing a moment or expressing an idea in a way that I can only communicate: the moments where the myriad events and words in my life become a singularity and I touch the keyboard and I am Midas.  I love the lucidity that creeps upon me as I write, and after I write.  I need it.  I need it when life has become overgrown and I am bleeding from a thorn that slashed my ankle and the horizon drifts to dark.

Others pray, or drink.  I write, and it is both: writing is addiction, but also some faith-filled hope that my words matter and can shine light on the darkness in my life and in lives around me.

I write this because I am waiting this week.  I am waiting as Psalm 37 expresses: waiting to become still, to know who is God and who he is not; waiting to see the earth put right, to see my life put right.  Waiting to inherit the earth.  Waiting on God.  For God.

On this side of death’s curtain all creativity needs tension.  Tension drives and pushes us, pushes our creative limits, our creative questions.  Writing fiction is only a series of questions, a series of What ifs? and it offers a chance to bring our tensions to the surface and play with them and explore them within the safety of a desk and a chair.

I write to alleviate the tension.  I write to express the tension and bring light and hope to it, to find Truth embodied within the facets of the paradox.

And so with waiting.  Waiting is a tension like any other, yet a deeper tension beyond our control.  I wait, most often, for temporal things and imagine what life might be like with them.  I imagine greater financial security — or greater perceived security.  I imagine more leisure time, a life resuming to “normal” — whatever normal may be, and which I never seem to reach.  I imagine comfort and prosperity.  This is the American version of waiting.

I write to relieve the tension between my waiting for temporal things: comfort, prosperity, and what it is God wants me to wait for: Himself.  I need to express this tension, to bring both my darkness and light to the surface, to the True Light.

Also, I write because I am and always will be in the midst of this tension.  Always, I will be waiting.  I will wait for temporal things, yes, and I hope and pray that my reliance on them will wane as my years multiply.  But also, I will always be waiting on God.  For God.  I will be waiting for His voice as Elijah did at the cave, as Jesus did on his solitary nights in Galilee, as John did on the Isle of Patmos.  I will be waiting for him to set the world right, to set me right: completely and irrevocably right, with no sense of a “not yet” or a future eschatological event: there will only be me and the Light of God and the rest of humanity bowed at his feet.

I write, because I need to remember this, and made up stories about broken people, people searching for truth and love, surfaces the tension and the hope and everything else.

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