One evening when I was in college, I attended an orchestral concert in the large Gothic Revival chapel. The atmosphere was elegant, subdued. The space was dim, candles on two grand wooden candelabras burned up front, and hundreds of listeners were swept up in the rise and swell of the music.
I sat toward the back. In my late teens and early twenties I was terrifically shy; I avoided talking to professors, stuck tight to my core group of friends, and did my best to avoid any limelight. The student body at my college was extreme in its intelligence and talent, which intimidated me terribly; for three years I was convinced admissions had made a mistake by accepting me, and I struggled mightily to prove to myself or anyone that I belonged. I’m not sure when or how that feeling dissipated, but the night of this concert certainly helped. Continue reading
Over the next few months I’ll periodically share excerpts from Writing the Sacred Journey–I’m taking a break from writing about writing to actually do some writing!
When I was attending Sleepy Hollow High School, I’d occasionally forsake the rowdy bus ride home and walk two miles down the steep streets of North Tarrytown, New York, over the infamous bridge where Ichabod Crane is said to have disappeared, and down to the Hudson River… Once I reached the beach, I…ran to a log polished silver and reclining on the sand. Here I could have the river to myself–the murky water and the private tuck of shoreline that lay flat like a vast, open palm. In that rare moment of solitude I felt a terrific ache. I wanted to cleave my heart to that dynamic, undulating force that smelled of sea salt and spanned boundless distances. My teenage life was small–fretted with self-consciousness and my peers’ misguided expectations. Still, I knew the passion buzzing in my adolescent body was also rolling in that tide. I watched the waves push and pull, and the coarse sand simmer before absorbing the water. I breathed the moist, kelp-scented air. Passion fused me to the river, but there was no release. I was still my lanky, lonely self. I could never dissolve into such magnificence. Continue reading
Back before the Internet, when my two sources of interruption were the mailman and the telephone, my computer functioned like a typewriter or notebook, singular in its purpose. I like to imagine that I could focus, settling down into a project, losing myself in creation and emerging hours later, but the truth is I grasped for distractions even then—a hangnail, lukewarm coffee in need of heating, the dirty laundry which might as well go into the washer because I wasn’t getting much done anyhow.
Prayer was no different. Continue reading