Writing as Listening

On a good morning of writing, the words leave my head entirely and reside in my fingers. Writing is a quiet business. Once I tried to explain this to a spiritual director—the way my heart stills and the room pulses with silence—but she didn’t believe me. How can you work with words and be quiet at the same time? Surely it’s impossible. (more…)

Writing as Deep Listening

DeskW:DaffodilsJim was a thoughtful, retired pastor who came to me for writing support. Because of prolonged wheelchair use, a wound had appeared at his sacrum that proved difficult to heal and challenging to his faith. Jim wrote personal essays about the struggle while enduring multiple surgeries and long periods of immobility.

Then his project stalled. He had expected the wound to close and provide neat closure to his essays. When it didn’t, he couldn’t finish his essays.

I told Jim (rather crassly) that a physical healing would be a clichéd ending to his story. (more…)

Message from the Page: “Would you please pay attention?!”

Graph PaperYour primary job as an artist is to seduce other people into paying attention. You are not creating anything new; you are re-creating what already exists so that people will recognize it and deal with it. You describe activities and name states of being so that the people who witness your work will have a fuller vocabulary for their own life. You help people see what has been in front of them all along. You help them remember what has been buried so deep that they couldn’t find it on their own. You enable them to see themselves a little more clearly.  –Vintia Hampton Wright, The Soul Tells a Story

During 2016 I arrived at surprising clarity about my spiritual path: I’m a contemplative, albeit one who walks her daughter to school in the morning, struggles with a perpetually cluttered house, and writes as my primary practice. To contemplate is to stand in the temple. The world with its dirty socks and hidden cruelties and winter sunrises is my temple. I stand in it when I pay attention. (more…)