Monday, July 21, 2014

An Opening that Leads (On Writing, Retreats and Regular Life)



 (this is the view out the front of our house, the old garage I'm writing about is out back)

My oldest son runs shouting into the house, eyes round like dinner plates.  “We found an opening that leads underground!” he exclaims and I picture a doorway leading to another world.

“Where?” I ask. 

“In the last garage, it’s creepy in there!  We found a pipe and when you put your hand inside it feels cool.”  Breathless, he turns and runs out of the house, headed back to the garage.

The older two are exploring, rooting through the yard and garage for lost bits of treasure that they plan to display in a museum of their own making.  Admission is rumored to be set at twenty-five cents.  I’m cleaning in the house, trying to make some order out of chaos when they run in again, one just a few steps behind the other.   

“We found bones!” they cry, their voices conveying the combined excitement and creepiness of the discovery. 

“Where?” I ask, again.

“In the furnace!” they shout.

I follow them this time, out across the lawn and driveway, into the cool, dark cave of the last garage.  My son pulls the skeleton of some small animal out of an old brick oven.   

After close examination, he declares it to be the remains of a baby bird and it isn’t long before they find a whole nest of skeletons, the mama and several babies.  Based on their location, I imagine they may be rats rather than birds, but given my reluctance to examine the remains, I let my son's conclusion stand.   

They wash the bones in a plastic storage bin and leave them to dry in the sun.

//

I returned yesterday from a weekend-long writer’s retreat at God's Whisper Farm.  I wrote while I was there, just a little, listened to the music of a fine musician, and thought about the place of writing in my life.  Before returning home I set a modest writing goal.

But then I returned to swirling chaos of family life and because I stepped away for a time, I'm now feeling very behind - behind in the laundry, dishes, cooking, shopping, sleep and, ironically enough, behind in my writing.  Now even the small goal I set feels like a millstone hung around the neck of a woman already drowning.

//

“We found an opening . . ." he said, and I realize that’s what I’m looking for too, some way in and through this crazy sinking mess, an avenue to something more life-giving than simply managing the chaos.  I want a way to excavate my life, a way of reaching through to a place of earthy coolness and what strikes me as my children root through the old furnace’s ashes is that this is what writing is for me.

Writing is digging under, inside-of, behind the surface of things; writing uproots the skeletal remains of what was, re-imagining its place in the wider scope of things. Writing is the cool water that washes off the bones of the daily, revealing the very structure of life as I lay it all out here on the page to dry.

//

By lunch time I’ve managed to mop the kitchen floor – a feat which has not been performed here for a month or more.  The kids are filthy from ashes and soot, their feet stained black from rummaging in the old garage. 

Mindful of my now-clean floors, I fill another bin with soapy water and gather them all around me at the back step.  They sit there while I wash their feet, one set at a time.  Lunch is buttered noodles and left-over hot dogs, not a vegetable in sight, and then it’s time for quiet time.  Off to their rooms they go, clean-footed, to build with Legos.

In the silence, in the space made by their absence I remember, there is an opening that leads, and I open the lap top and begin to write, feeling the coolness of what lies beneath as it spreads across the page.     

This post is linked with Playdates with God and Unforced Rhythms.

14 comments:

  1. You are so right, friend. Writing only works for me, too, when it comes from its own opening. Forcing it just produces words, not a story. I'm always blessed when you lay your writing out on the page for us to enjoy. I pray it continues to be a rich blessing for you, too.

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  2. This is my 3rd time, but here goes:

    Kelly,
    What a great way to layer your piece as you opened with your son's words and you closed with seizing the opening to write :) I'm with you, I don't think I would have touched the bones ;)

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    1. Glad it finally worked Dolly! No, I don't plan to touch the bones - words- yes, bones - no.

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  3. Kelly, you take my breath away tonight with these words like splashes of water washing off the bones of your daily and laying them here to dry on the page. I am loving these peeks into your heart. I pray you keep finding that opening, that washing, that space to breathe.

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  4. yes, this
    searching for the opening

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  5. Oh, friend. You write my life. Yes, aren't we? Looking for that opening? Just a bit of cool air, a door to another world. Beautiful, Kelly.

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    1. Cool air sounds wonderful today (90+ degrees out). I'm glad it resonates, Laura. I'm hoping someday we'll meet and share notes in person.

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  6. It's sweet how God hears your heart friend and creates an opening for you. I'm in that same world full of noise, chaos, mess, and fun. I don't even know if I'm supposed to write, and I definitely don't feel good at it, but I like to sometimes and I'm thankful for when the there is an opening for it.

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    1. That sounds just right, Paula - noticing the joy it brings and letting that be your invitation. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

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  7. What a beautiful, moving post! So thankful for your visit to my blog today...I was SO grateful for your comment. It really got me thinking...how Jesus being an outsider truly does challenge our desire for acceptance. Such profound truth you left behind and gives me much to ponder. Thank you ever so much, and may God bless you and your sweet boys. I am your newest follower. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping over, Cheryl, I'm glad my words spoke to you. Welcome to the blog, newest friend :)

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