On May 26, 2016 I wrote a blog post sending myself “on vacation” so to speak. Until that time I had been writing on a weekly basis for the last ten years without missing a week except for the odd hurricane here or there. I also produced some pretty good words. Some very forgettable ones, too. But, all in all, it was a productive time for us all.
While on “vacation” I’ve posted mostly when the mood struck. I have felt no obligation.
It turns out that was a bad thing.
In 2015 my birthday was on Thanksgiving Day and I felt especially Thankful that day. I went out to the labyrinth and ask God what I could give to God as my birthday gift. I walked and waited. I started worrying that since I was feeling so extremely thankful and so willing to do anything God asked that God would ask me for something really big, some dramatic act like giving up Facebook. But fair is fair and God had given me so much that I knew I was going to have to grant any request God ask for.
About mid-walk the answer came so clear there was no doubt in my mind that it was from God. It wasn’t quite the James Earl Jones voice that I sometimes have heard in the past but it was a clear word-by-word sentence spoken clearly: “I want you to write for an hour a day for six months.” I was so relieved that I didn’t have to give up Facebook that I accepted the assignment with joy.
It wasn’t until I actually tried sitting down for an hour and writing non-stop that I realized how hard the assignment was. I think I may have lasted two days. Then the writing dropped off for a week. I crawled back to the keyboard and resolved to just write something, anything, no matter how long, every day. That lasted for about two months. Maybe three. In short, I never made my six-month commitment. Not even writing for any amount of time. I couldn’t even keep a commitment to write for five minutes a day for six weeks. I’ve re-started this about three times. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve chastised myself over it. This is a commitment I made to God, a totally no-risk contract between myself and God and I couldn’t keep it. How low can a person get?
This year on my birthday I went back to the labyrinth. I asked for clarification. And I got nothing. It wasn’t quite like God had stopped speaking to me in a mad fit, it was more like the simple instructions were just that and God had nothing more to add or subtract. The request remained there on the table: “I want you to write for an hour a day for six months.” I got the impression that the clock was still available and the six-month period didn’t have to start any particular time, that I hadn’t blown my chance, there was still time to complete the assignment.
And I haven’t figured out why this is so hard for me. Aside from the ADD thing, I mean. If you ask anybody with ADD to do anything for an hour straight you will get the same heebie-jeebie reaction of bugs crawling over their skin. That’s a pretty big factor.
So, in one last ditch attempt to fulfill what God wants me to do I’m going to re-interpret God’s original request to mean just “write a lot.” OK? From the very specific “I want you to write for an hour a day for six months” to just “write more.” Maybe the Ever-Patient, Always-Willing-to Negotiate and Loving-Parent God will take what God can get. God was willing to negotiate with Abraham so maybe I can whittle God down a little.
So, now I intend to get back to work on a weekly basis on the chance that someone out there will be waiting on Wednesdays-- a human because human reactions do better for me than divine ones, divine reactions being a bit haphazard at best even when they are angelic and/or written in neon. If God wants me to be a dependable writer I will need dependable schedule. So, I’m going back to the old schedule and I’ll see what the Holy Spirit thinks about it.
This morning I picked up one of my Christmas books, Thomas Friedman’s latest—Thank You for Being Late. I’ve been a big fan of his writing and philosophies for a long time-ever since he popularized the concept of globalization in his book, The World is Flat.
There it was on page four: He quotes Dov Seidman “When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops. But when you press the pause button on human beings they start…to reflect, you start to rethink your assumptions, you start to reimagine what is possible and, most importantly, you start to reconnect with your most deeply held beliefs. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to reimagine a better path.”
I’m going to try to take Tuesdays to pause and then write during that pause. Then I’ll post it here on Wednesdays. I'm thinking a 4 p.m. deadline will help keep me focused. I’ve got a couple of things to talk about already. See you then.