Sunday, March 31, 2013

Faith, art, and life

This blog post began life as a revision of a first draft of a poem that I wrote two days after becoming a Christian (almost 16 years ago), and for a while, the post seemed to click along... until I came to the section of the poem that transitions into what feels to me to be more Christianese-y than a more natural, organic, and lyrical expression of whatever I was experiencing that day. I was hoping I could transform the poem and then use it to help show you what I have spoken of recently to some other writers — my seeming? apparent? lack of vocabulary for describing the wonders of the life I entered into on August 10, 1997. It's been almost 16 years, and to this day, my vocabulary and my "poetry muscles" seem to still be inadequate. It's as if my writing ability and my spiritual nature are several removes from each other.

When I explain to fellow writers that I am a Christian and that that reality/truth informs all that I am, because it is at the core of who I am, they encourage me to keep writing — the Christians remind me that indeed the experience (of not only the moment of decision [accepting Christ as Savior and Lord] but also the string of moments that is the lifelong journey of following Christ) is ineffable; the others, that blocks/obstacles in writing come to all writers (I am not alone).

This feels messy, this trying to tell you what is on my mind and in my heart. I struggle against the brain fog that comes with the blood sugar level fluctuations I have daily (I'm a type 1 diabetic [on insulin until there's a cure!]). I fight with my own perfectionism. I run and hide from self-assigned tasks such as this one (write about how your faith informs your art/creativity). My pride gets in the way. I'm in a feedback loop, and I can't get out!! ;)

ENOUGH, Elena. Just write.

It also occurs to me that as today is Easter, it might be time for what I wrote about back then to have some sort of birth here. Let's see where it goes.


Part 1

Futures still live uncertain lives,
though feet now walk solid ground
or dangle over strong arms
carrying this heart through the dim.
Spiders still spin webs to catch
a possible wandering meal.
This worm now grows —
the chrysalis is inside
and a butterfly will emerge.

But has the poetry died
with the sorrow transformed?

Is there a permission slip handed out —
"Now allowed" — to connect with the ones-too-good,
previously avoided (reluctantly,
from fear of low appraisal)?

Perhaps, if poetry stays and lives,
does it fall into a fire
that burns off the chaff
and leaves the tried-and-true metaphors?

Cannot a new language
coincide with this new life?


Part 2

There is no cemetery for the old lives
of the reborn...
Perhaps it is best that we do not mourn
their passing.

But shout aloud!
Throw glittered confetti!
A new creature has arrived!

Sing "Hallelujah!"
Trumpets, sound!
The blood of the Lamb makes the sinner

Red roses and white lilies
for the newborn,
not the dead.

This is no funeral
but a birthing...

Praise Him with glad heart and ready mind
and open hand

to sing
to learn
to show

His perfect love.

I can't carry the sarcasm any
the weight of many stones takes up strength
intended for the burden of prayer.

Hope, a sapling,
grows stronger with time.
Faith, a mountain,
proves unshakeable in the trials of wind.
Love, a river, flows to quench the thirst of the sapling
and to shape the mountain.


Not finished by far, but now I see more possibilities. Why do I see them now? I think it's (in part) because I was willing to show this to you, the reader, to stop hiding behind so much anonymity. And I say this not to ask for a pat on the back... but to let you in a bit on the creative process. Maybe. I mean, it's not that I don't want to let you in... but that I'm not sure how to say it so that you can really, really see it. Ya know?

I don't understand it all — why a writer feels compelled to write... the exact animus that inhabits each of us who MUST put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, fingertip to tablet or smartphone... why *I* must write.

But we writers do it — we show up, and we write. Maybe not as often as we intend. Maybe not as often as our readers would like. Maybe not as beautifully, gracefully, seemingly effortlessly as our alternate-universe selves envision. But we do it. And in that doing, that writing, we live and breathe and  (yes) move and have our being.

I cannot remember clearly a time when I didn't feel compelled to put a writing tool to paper. (I've been doodling my name since I gained the fine motor skills necessary, learned the alphabet, and grasped how to physically make those letters appear.) I began writing in earnest when I was 14 years old. That means I've spent almost 23.5 years either writing or struggling to write or feeling awful that I wasn't writing. This whatever-it-is (desire?) is in my bones. And it's been part of me far longer than the time I've been a Christian... so maybe that's why it felt so odd to me when it seemed as if in pledging allegiance to my King, I had given up something I never thought to sacrifice — my writing self.

I wish you could see the tears as I write this... feel the burning in my limbs... sense the soaring in my heart... as I realize that it must be no coincidence that I write about this subject today, of all days, and that a bit of an epiphany comes to me —> God didn't want my writing self to die and remain in a proverbial grave: He wants it as a living sacrifice. And that I don't have to keep carrying the burden of What is *this* supposed to be? How do I do *this*? — He carries it for me. He is my Cornerstone.

And that is why life, faith, art, and creativity are all inextricably linked for me. All that He is, living in and through me — somehow... in ways I don't even know how to describe in words — at the same time births and grows all that He ever designed me to be. And that's all I have to be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Elena,

Maybe instead of a "living sacrifice" you're just "living your potential". Because I get that same burning, but I chalk it up to fulfilling my destiny (that I helped script before I was born). It's not a feeling unique to Christians. :o)