the holiness of work
the dry spell had been long. the dust, collecting in my throat. the days of wondering where i was meant to be. aching for a path, a sense of how to find the clearing, through the thicket, up the side of the mountain.
some days i swore i’d lost my soul. found myself pounding out tales of how to clear a plugged drain (talk about ironic). oh, sure, i liked the plumbers all right. didn’t mind learning a thing or two about the ways of my sink. but really? i’d left the bedsides of dying children, picked up pen and notebook, to find myself 30 years later, making sure the world knew how to un-plug that drain.
clearly, that was not my steady diet. i spiced it up with the occasional soulful musing. saying goodbye to kids headed off to college. saying goodbye to my own. but it was, more days than i wanted it to be, an exercise in driving me to madness.
i could barely remember those days this week as i sat, morning after morning, in the shifting light. heard the chatter from just beyond the screen, as the sparrows had it out with the cardinals. and no one appreciated the stalking ways of my fat striped cat.
but there i was, red pen in hand, poring over pages that are typed-out vessels from my heart. more like prayer cards, each and every one. it’s called editing, but really it’s distilling. distilling to the essence, paring away excess. cutting to the bone.
it happens to be essential to the craft of writing, but really it’s essential in this odyssey called life.
we are each of us, processing machines. we wander through the day, absorbing this and that, taking in that long tale, and this winding one. if we’re thinking, paying attention, we are always on the lookout for the essence, the gospel take-away, the distillation of heart and mind and soul.
one by one, we take the offerings of the day, hold them to the light, sift and sort. decide which ones serve up sustenance, which ones merely upholstered the day in wit and whimsy.
so that’s the task i’m attending to right now. whittling down page after page, sentence after sentence, to its essence. its holy spark, if there is one. others will be the judge.
and as i slowly turned the pages, as the red pen traced progress in the margins, i found myself bathed in an undiluted sense of the holy. maybe, just maybe, it’s baptism, all over again. a new beginning. maybe after all the years, i’ve stumbled on the deep pure vein that connects me, that i’ve been trying to find for what feels like forever.
holiness. it’s why i set out on my journey long ago. it’s the wind beneath my wings.
and it came up and tapped me on the heart this week. seeped in through the holes in the screen door. filled the kitchen.
there’s work to be done, from now till tuesday, when the next deep round of edits are due. this whole month is pretty much a blur of tight deadlines, one cascading atop another. thank God i live with someone who understands the urgency, and the long long dry spell that preceded it. he seems to know that it’s a prayer i am offering to the heavens. because really that’s what this is.
and it’s the holiest work i’ve ever done.
thank God it found me. i’ve been searching for so long.
so that’s the update from here at the news desk. whirling madly toward the deadline. a dear friend visiting for the weekend, the joy of trying to sustain calm amid deep-down palpitations. so i’ll simply pay closer attention to whatever it is i’m doing in the moment. extract more essence.
and the question: what’s your holy work? and how did it find you?