Person by person we enter this space
It fills up with conversation – laughter
Wires are untangled
Stands and booms adjusted
Voices mingle with stray notes
E, A, D, G, B, E
The familiar melody of 'The Tuning Song'
The bricolage of preparatory sounds almost moves
Through dance toward art
But at that last possible moment
The voice of the supreme leader
The one who with a plan
Breaks the dance with a dirge
The procedures that will create beautiful noise
But another day
When it matters
For now we try to rescue what once had such promise
Can we regain the music
At the edges of the director's gaze?
In between rehearsed chord progressions?
Is there still a song under all this control?
It is our job
To defeat the mathematics of performance
And find color and texture in lines and dots
Person by person we enter this space
Washing the dishes wrinkles them
Digging in the mud dirties them
Playing a song callouses them
Building a snowman freezes them
Changing a diaper soils them
Folding an invitation cuts them
Mowing a lawn burns them
Undoing a necklace frustrates them
Writing a letter numbs them
Tending a garden stings them
Hugging you softens them
Loving you destroys them
I feel I should apologize. I am not a practiced poet – not even close. And yet I am attempting to write a poem every day during the month of April. Some call it National Poetry Writing Month – or NaPoWriMo to be pretentiously succinct.
I made a big mistake and this evening re-read my first attempt of the month. And now I hate myself – not just my poetry, but a deep dark hatred of my very being.
So, I quit? No. Net yet. I'm going to do this tomorrow too.
Warm and coffee and music
We are not in our own place
Comfortable while not belonging
The kids know it
Our home is far away
A plane ride
This isn't our dog
The little ones are wondering
What happened to the cat?
I'm wondering what happened
One breath was dry
The next breath was humid
I might be excused for feeling
As though we are in a witness protection program
In between breaths
Strangers in a strange land
Marks of living a divided life; "masked and armored" from ourselves and others:
- We sense that something is missing in our lives and search the world for it, not understanding that what is missing is us.
- We feel fraudulent, even invisible, because we are not in the world as who we really are.
- The light that is within us cannot illuminate the world's darkness.
- The darkness that is within us cannot be illuminated by the world's light.
- We project our inner darkness on others, making "enemies" of them an making the world a more dangerous place.
- Our inauthenticity and projections make real relationships impossible, leading to loneliness.
- Our contributions to the world—especially through the work we do—are tainted by duplicity and deprived of the life-giving energies of true self.
—Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness
"Conducting a 10/10/10 analysis doesn’t presuppose that the long-term perspective is the right one. It simply ensures that short-term emotion isn’t the only voice at the table."
Regret. Let's kick that stupid emotion right in the beard.
Technology advancements have given me an information phone that has nearly as much computational power as the laptop that I am typing on right now. And yet, would you like to see a screen shot of what my writing environment looks like?
Now, just hold on a second here. My point isn’t about pushing the done-to-death minimalism trend and selling you on buying another app. It is the words. Words written in plain text.
The desktop trend over the last 20 years was toward incredibly bloated word processing programs like Word and Pages that gave you anything and everything you could need to make your US-letter-sized documents as glossy as possible. Colours and graphics were more and more easy to add (making printer ink companies very happy), and fonts! fonts! fonts! "WYSIWYG for All" was the battle cry of the downtrodden corporate stooge.
So why after decades of motion toward more and more and bloat and play, am I writing in plain text?
Because writing is an art.
Stay with me. I swear I’m really not that pretentious.
The words I am writing – the words that you are writing – deserve focus. I’m not saying they deserve to be overshadowed by a trendy minimalist writing app (or seven...) The words we are writing deserve our attention.
All the other stuff – the formatting, the page size, the fonts, the columns and margins and colours – all of that can wait until the sacred act of typing is finished.
In the past, desktop publishing – which used to be called typesetting – would only take place once the writing was concluded. Now, if we are writing in .doc format we are presented with options for margin and column and header and image before we have even written one word. Writing ceases to be writing and becomes all muddled up with desktop publishing.
Sometimes I am still going to need to use Pages (or, heaven forbid, Word) but as often and as a long as I can manage I must avoid writing in those places.
Your writing deserves your focused, undivided attention.
And if writing is so important... what does that say about the other valuable parts of our lives? How much focus do my son and daughter deserve to receive? How much focus should my marriage receive? How much focus should my clients and employers receive? If these words about words are so sacred that they deserve to be the only thing on my computer screen... well, you get it.
One more thing to share today on the topic of intentionally inhabiting our neighbourhoods and being awake to what God is doing there already. Afterall, three is a pretty holy number, yes?
(Four is fairly holy as well, so there is always space for one more post later, should the winds blow.)
But for now, please check out the short video below.
Good things are happening! Friends such as Cam Roxburgh and Karen Wilk will be in Seattle next month to participate in the Inhabit Conference, where conversation will be happening around words like neighbourhood, parish, place, and 'joining God in what God is already doing in the neighbourhoods we are a part of'.
It's going to be about being aware of how we can be converted by our neighbours, instead of always assuming our job is the opposite!
So go register today!