Life has taken on a slower pace, an internal reaching and stretching for what’s next, a frightening freedom that I’m still not used to since I declined to sign another three-book contract. In the last few months, I self-published my first contemporary but have done little to do with writing or even marketing since. I’m in a transition, a changeover, a one-way passage to a place the Lord has been patiently waiting for me to surrender to if not embrace.
At first there was a frantic clawing, a feeling of being left out and adrift. How to answer the questions of what I was working on and tell fans my secret shame – that the well has long run dry. Worse was the internal gnawing of my self-worth. I could still claim the titles of wife and mother with all its endless tasks and serendipitous rewards but would it be enough? It wasn’t in the past. And yet, I’ve stretched back into places gone cold – the kitchen and the garden and the bedroom. There is a quiet joy in pulling weeds I’d forgotten about, a new and happy sigh at a meal turned out and the intense gratification of being someone’s rock, that person who my family knows is always there to listen and laugh and love with. Those things had strings attached before – when I had the time – but now all I have is time.
I’m a little further down my crossover now. I don’t berate myself for sleeping in – this was a hard one. God must think I need extra sleep these days. I don’t look for worth in shallow waters, where I’ve learned it evaporates like mist in the dawn. I dip into the living well, the Word, and am thirsty – stark, raving, mad thirsty. And I let the little mundane, every day living things carry me like a slow moving stream – gentle, undulating, floating in the sun. There is no guilt in being aboard a boat on a journey and only doing the things possible on a boat – sit in the sun, fish, talk, relax, breathe deeply of the earth laden breeze. There is no guilt or shame in taking time, being blessed with time, enjoying time. I tell myself these things when I feel anxious and unworthy.
God is bringing me back to my core, my real purpose – which could be no other purpose at all than what I’m doing now. I lay down the need to accomplish, to have security, to strive. I lay it down daily, sometimes with gritted teeth and other times with joy abandon. And as I lay it down I can hear the Holy Spirit. His whispers have long been drowned out with the busyness of deadlines. The stress of taking care of myself and things I wasn’t built to take care of. I lean in to hear His voice and He tells me things – to do or be for someone or just be. A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to a dying loved one, words of appreciation for what he has meant to me that struck to my core. As the tears fell and the words poured out I felt as marrow being drawn out of my bones onto the page. I have recently reconnected with old friends I haven’t had time for and even now I am working on a labor of love for my father. A book of his poetry that I plan to publish for him as a gift. As I read his words my eyes overflow and my heart hears a matching beat. He has given me this gift of words.
I am blessed, blessed to have this time – equal parts bliss and dying.
A poem by my father, James R. Carie:
Your Word is like an ointment poured forth
It comes into my ears and falls down upon my heart
It spreads into my understanding
Your Word is a blaze confirming the truth
Holy in its cleansing
Your Spirit searches my inward parts
Your majesty is revealed to me
Your surpassing wisdom enters into my inner chambers
I bow down, I am set free
You blot out my transgressions and remember them no more
I stand in the congregation of your chosen and claim my righteousness by inheritance
Here I am O Lord a cleansed vessel by His Word
by His blood
by His Spirit
by His truth
by His Holiness
The testimony of my righteousness I ascribe to you alone
O Lord God most high
Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path
Without you O Lord I can do nothing
You have given me a body to live in
I trust you with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding