The work of writing can be for me, or very close to, the simple job of being: by creative reflection and awareness to help life itself live in me, to give its esse an existant, or to find a place, rather, in esse by action, intelligence and love. For to write is to love: it is to inquire and to praise, to confess and to appeal. This testimony of love remains necessary. Not to reassure myself that I am (“I write, therefore I am”), but simply to pay my debt to life, to the world, to other men. To speak out with an open heart and say what seems to me to have meaning. The bad writing I have done has all been authoritarian, the declarartion of musts, and the announcement of punishments. Bad because it implies a lack of love, good insofar as there may yet have been some love in it. The best stuff has been more straight confession and witness. ~ Merton
Read this reflection by Merton this morning.
I’m not a writer, but I how I love to do it.
When I was more or less shoved into this world of blogging a few years back, I really had no idea how to proceed in blogland. Seemed like such hubris, such chutzpah, to presume to frame words and put them out here.
Initially attempting some theological musings, I was struck by how quickly some were ready to pounce on any perceived threat to their existing thought paradigms, how ready some were to impugn all sorts of motives, to immediately slip into snarky mode and then when called on it retort “ad hominem!”
Bad writing indeed. A grievous business under the sun. Judgment. Punishment. Repeated declarations of musts.
I’ve done far too much of that in the course of my life.
While they still pop up now and then, God bless them, they seem to be trolling and finding targets elsewhere, while my writing has been nudged to more personal reflections with theological threads woven in. It’s just me, and really for me, with who knows who looking over my shoulder, and with divine ways and means embedded in the substance of me occasionally surfacing before me as I write.
I’ve never journaled before (crazy way to start!). But I’ve always loved words. Always.
On a human level I have to credit my tenth grade English teacher. Can’t remember her name but can see her face. She empowered me, connecting words and thought with speaking and writing, and called forth what she saw in me. Still remember when she held up our first batch of paragraphs on a crisp September morning. She said there were some good efforts, some promise, but there was one paragraph submitted that truly struck her as having solid potential. Sitting at the back, unknown, totally nerdy, I froze and then slowly slid down in my chair as she read my paragraph to the class with total delight on her face. The thirty other students all looked at each other to see who had written it. I stared straight ahead. And then she walked toward me with it, handed it to me, her face beaming. The other students looked at me and then each other with a “Huh. Who’s he? Who cares?” look. Didn’t really make any friends as a result – I just wasn’t part of the in-crowd, and was just fine with that. But fewer moments have meant more or been more significant.
And so I write, paying my debt to my teacher, “to life, to the world, to other men” in the simple ongoing pursuit of being.