I’m a writer. I write for myself, I write for other people and I even contribute over at Mind Full Collective. I love the process, and have been been filling pages with everything from short stories to my own journals since I could hold a pen.
I haven’t always written. It actually comes in these great bursts followed by long gaps of silence…sometimes years…where not a word came from my pen.
Writing is a strange form of art actually. It’s one of the only ones where there is typically some sort of conclusion that paints a completed picture of the event or emotion. Some of the best pieces come from reflecting over journals and penning a sort of “hindsight” piece. We present a problem and offer a conclusion.
So I’ve had gaps….long, achy, dark gaps….where I had no conclusion. I had no wisdom to give. I had no answers as I was, myself, trudging in a great sea of uncertainty. People read to learn, to know, and to understand…and I had not a crumb to place at the table. Who would want to read anything that had nothing to offer except a picture of my heart in the moment?
And then yesterday happened….and I realized that my heart should never be hidden. Authenticity requires me to paint the picture of my heart every day….unfinised, unsettled…and un-everything else.
I was offered the humbling opportunity to step into my friend’s secret space, where she hides away to paint.
She asked me to take some pictures for her artist profile on her upcoming website, and as I stepped gingerly onto her hallowed ground, she began scooping things up to take somewhere “better” for pictures.
“No,” I said, putting them back. “Let’s do this right here….leave the mess. This is you. It’s so sacred here.” She leaned back against a shelf and looked around, tears in her eyes. “It is, isn’t it?” she said.
Here is where I learned that we don’t always know how sacred our gifts are until someone treats them that way. Here’s where I saw someone shift into a perhaps forgotten notion that they mattered, and that their voice was significant. Artists struggle with this, in a deep visceral way. We all do.
It was a quiet, serene time, photographing this woman in the midst of her mess.
And it really was in the middle. There were half finished projects scattered about, experimentation, and ideas long forgotten, buried beneath a pile of brushes.
The paintings that were completed dealt mostly in circles. There were circles everywhere.
I did understand.
“I feel like I don’t know what’s happening but I just kind of cycle through my life in these circular phases…..” she trailed off, but I finished her sentence.
“But when all of our circles come together….it’s really a beautiful mess of….middle spaces.”
And we just kind of sat in silence together, staring at her blue painting with a series of circles converging in the center.
“I don’t always have something to say when I go to paint, but express who I am…” she said. I could have heard that said as an apology, if it weren’t for her quiet strength. Here is where I realized how much we feel that we need to have a conclusion to all of our moments to make them valuable. But sometimes things just don’t ever make sense. We may never understand the deep tragic things that fall into our incapable hands.
Her art speaks the honesty that we all possess in the deep trembling spaces: I’m in the middle, I have little wisdom, but I am seeking it. I have only myself and I am growing, being changed. My voice is small, but it bears great truth of the middle spaces…that there is still great value in the voice of the not-knowing. There is beauty in the growing process as much as there is in the bloom. As I seek wisdom, I shed the light on example…to draw toward those that know, to the One that knows, and paint a trail behind myself for others to follow in their own unique colorful way.
We both have young children, and we both are in that digging process…finding who we were before and dusting that off again. We’re discovering that it now has a different shape, and a new form…we’re getting to know that person. This new mother, with a new life…forever altered.
She is undeniably brave. She is brave to paint a picture of life that doesn’t come to conclusion, when you don’t feel “finished,” as a person. It’s a fierce notion to place your heart on a canvas when you feel it has no lasting significance. It’s a wild thing to do….to tell a story when you’re still in the middle of it, and not allow it to look like anyone else’s but your own.
And that’s what makes it priceless. To do what the rest of us are terrified of doing.
She sits in front of a painting and we laugh because I say it looks sensual and she thought it was dark. Isn’t it funny how our process will provide the words and the meaning needed to whomever stumbles across it? Authenticity is being silent, and living in complete honesty…your actions are your words. Your words are your love toward others. The Spirit provides the words for them. We just love.
But we cannot hide. We are called and appointed to be bear truth and love. We can’t wait until we feel “finished,” or less messy to be livers of love in this world.
My writing has changed. I realized that I don’t have to have conclusion…not all the time. I am actually quite messily un-concluded at the moment. I know that all the great Christian women bloggers have some sort of conclusion or a devotional that resolves at the end with a great big slice of hope. I read those blogs with humility and much respect.
But I don’t have to do that in my own pieces, nor do I possess those answers right now. I write to paint that picture of my present. Authenticity requires that I write what I know, and live, in faith, on what I’ve learned, not what I hope to know.
Life has no certain conclusion until death, so I suppose my writing should reflect that great mystery that beats in all of our souls…
…the mystery that is God.
May I come to know Him all the more…and may my middle spaces still cry out His name. May I rejoice in being forever unfinished, until glory.