It’s a funny thing when you are old enough to look back and see the intricate handiwork of God in your life. Not funny ha-ha, but funny ah-ha.
Like that moment in movie when it suddenly dawns on you what’s really going on. Before, the plot was like a jumbled mess of puzzle pieces chaotically waiting form and structure. Then, the corner pieces are anchored, the edges are solid and the middle is more filled in than not.
The puzzle pieces of my life as a feature film are fairly filled in.
I wrote my first book in the 5th grade as an assignment in English class. The project stirred up an excitement in me that grew to the point of near obsession. Math, science, and even reading took a backseat while I wrote, edited and illustrated my tome. All This for That, my 26-page hand written, illustrated and bound debut novel was the beginning of a passion.
The next year, when my 6th grade teacher assigned a spring semester project, I pitched the idea for another novel and Beyond the Horizon was born. The bright yellow book, carefully bound in cardboard and contact paper, sits on my writing desk, as inspiration and reminder. Never mind the story is a watered down version of The Count of Monte Cristo, it’s my version of the Dumas classic.
My passion for writing was unencumbered and uninhibited. I’m not so fearless with my words these days. I could use a dose of my childhood passion. I seek the abandon with which my pen flew across the wide ruled spiral notebooks. The days before the world took hold.
I remember when my two worlds collided. My protected garden of words and the jungle of the world. A teacher smeared blood red ink over a history paper. It wasn’t the grammatical and technical correction that dammed up my creativity. It was the comment he made when he handed back my paper that still stings, “you can’t even spell beginning,” (I left out an “n”) “you’ll never be a writer. . . “ There were words that followed, but I did not hear them. I was defeated.
Ironically, or not, my crisis of words coincided with my crisis of faith. In the 7th grade I was told by the clothed and stoled Monsignor I was going to hell because I was not Catholic. Hell, of course, is where you go when you don’t have Jesus. If my destiny was the fiery inferno, I was defeated with out the hope of a savior.
In this life, you must be lost to be found. Jesus, who came to seek and liberate the lost, found me wandering the world. Our Lord, who is gentle, kind and indeed humorous, found me scared and confused during a Catholic mass on a Palm Sunday in a cathedral in Paris.
Words are precious to me. So is Jesus. I do not take either for granted for I know the desolation of life without them.
I don’t want to be afraid of what the world thinks of my love affair with my savior or the words he gives me. Yet, the tension of the world creeps back, slamming me into the prison cell captive to pride, worry, and fear. Fear of what the history teachers will say. Worry that my words aren’t good enough to be “a writer.” Afraid I’ll say something offensive, or worse wrong. And, so I hide. Safe behind Brussels sprouts and granola ball recipes. Both are delicious and life changing in their own right, by the way.
This winter I’ve been still. Stripped bare from the pleasure and burden of writing and cooking. . . my creativity paused for a season so that I could learn what it means to die to self and care for one who needed me. Before, I was lost in the world. This winter I was lost in Him.
Sometimes we have to lose ourselves in order to be found.