As Trees are Born to Bear Leaves

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 If not, then the impulse was at best only pardonable vanity, and it will certainly disappear when the hope is withdrawn.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

11 thoughts on “As Trees are Born to Bear Leaves

  1. Gorgeous, brilliant, soul sister,

    THANK YOU for inviting me into your beautiful post, I adore it. I am not surprised but I am still deeply enriched to find much resonance in what you write.

    I don’t think I’ll forget this gem any time soon:

    ” . . . I find myself at the feet of the Divine, and I sink into the earth to worship.”

    God, that is so damn beautiful. I feel like you are in touch with the sensuality of writing and spirit like I am and I have to say . . . I really don’t know many others who tap into that rare space. It’s a veneration so many don’t dare allow themselves. You know?

    Thank you for sharing your words and your spirit so fully. You light the dark, angel, as only you can.

    I am so grateful to have you in my creative world.

    Big hugs and love,

    Allison x

    1. Allison, Love! I think you and I write from very much within the breath of the muse. There is nothing quite like being surprised by the words that pour onto the page. I can see that we each get into the grip of the thing that is on our mind, and we just sink into it, and the writing takes on a life of its own that is fulfilling, as only it can be, and breathtaking as well.

      I loved what you shared in your podcast about us not birthing these babies, but that these words, these creations actually are that from which we are born. That is so miraculous, and twisted and luscious! Such a rich interpretation of the creative process, and the letting go of it. When we think of allowing our creation to go forth and flourish, and then turn it on its head, and that creation is standing back, breathing deeply, perhaps wringing its hands a little in worry for us as we go forth. I am in love with that imagery!

      I adore bouncing ideas off you and getting the shout back of creative artistry and love!

      1. OMG I love how you SAY THINGS. I really totally do. I just read this twice.

        I love that you love the Tao by the way – because you have a Way. 🙂 Kisses and hugs and love beyond, beyond!

  2. liesl, everyone should read this post and not because it made me cry, either. there is ‘pardonable vanity’ in so many of the things we pursue, don’t you think? and by ‘we’ I mean The Big We — all of us — and it is often this that interferes with our ability to feed ourselves and serve others in the best way that we can with the things that we are able to do. I know that I feel better when i’m writing. it gives my days a different shape and it provides me the opportunity to reflect on things that I might otherwise let wash right over me, losing what I might have gained from them entirely. on my good days, this is enough. on others, I will now begin to think of it as recurrent, pardonable vanity.

  3. I hear you, Liesl. We all go through those bits. Then there are moments of extreme joy because we are exactly on our path. On the path, off the path, on the path, off the path.. and so it goes!

  4. This is lovely, Liesl. You are a fabulous writer! I was certainly moved by what you wrote here because I did not realize it, but writing is one of my practices too. In fact, writing has been with me my whole life – quietly being part of everything I have done and not standing up and shouting ME! ME! until I saw what you wrote. Your writing has impact – for me, today. That is what counts. Happy writing!

    1. Thank you, Amy! What a very special gift we have – that we write for ourselves and our own spiritual practice, and also are able to move others with our words. That doubles the joy!

      As with any other spiritual practice, the consistency, the dailiness of it, creates balance. The lack of that, results in a frazzled void in me.

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