I am sure that some are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves: for these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development. If the impulse to write survives the hope of success, then one is among these. If not, then the impulse was at best only pardonable vanity, and it will certainly disappear when the hope is withdrawn.
C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, The Letters of C.S. Lewis, (28 August 1930)
Today I read a question: What is your Spiritual Practice? from Amy Putkonen over at Tao Te Ching Daily. What is the thing we go back to over and over again that brings us peace and comfort and a connection to what we find sacred?
For me it is writing. I have always written. I have never really pursued being published. I have looked into it a couple of times, but the prospect was overwhelming. In the end, it’s easier, and more soul satisfying for me to put my thoughts on paper for my own amusement than to try to get someone to like me enough to say my writing is good.
There have been times when the longing to be published, that pardonable vanity, was so strong, that I hurt for lack of an audience. I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings on a grand scale and get a response. I wanted more than a monologue, I wanted a shared experience, a dialogue, a give and take, applause. And the roaring of those yearnings almost drowned out the need to put words on paper in the first place. I have been disheartened, and discouraged, looking at younger writers with an already enormous readership. I have thrown my pen at a wall. I have decided to give up writing.
I have suffered from the distance I put between myself and a blank page.
This is in me. This is my spiritual practice, where I work out my issues. When I am hurt, I go to the page. When I am delighted, I want to capture the moment on paper. When I am in love, I overflow with more words than my beloved can handle, and I take some of it to the page. When I struggle, to the page. When I wonder, to the page. When I am lost, to the page I go, again and again, and I find myself at the feet of the Divine, and I sink into the earth to worship.
Sometimes it has been poetry. Mostly, it has been poetic wanderings, not necessarily technical poems, but my world view from a poetic standpoint. What I see through that lens. How I try to be a better mother by seeing my children poetically, or seeing them as poems in the making, or poems too perfect to alter.
It has hardly ever happened that I thought something brilliant and decided to go write that down. Generally, if I write something that floors me, it spills onto the page in an outpouring of emotion and words and euphoria that I don’t even understand. I take a breath and reread and realize that something wonderful just happened, and I was a part of it somehow, and there are those words, in that order, in that phrase, and I want to wrap myself in them and surround myself with them.
This is my spiritual practice. This wordplay; this moment in front of a blank page, the quiet before, and the breathlessness after. The will to fill it. And then the running out and tackling a friend to hear it.
What is yours?
photo from here