In January I declared (to myself) that this would be the year that I would write. Something. A book proposal. An ebook. A book. Some sort of work that would be hard but good for me.
And, then? There haven’t been a whole lot of words. I became disinterested in what I’d been working on. My life felt overwhelming. I even struggled to write just for me. Can you still be a writer when you don’t know what to write about, what you should write about? I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk away from the whole thing. I mean, is it ok to keep writing the same things over and over again? About holding onto the sweet wisps of childhood still left at my house? About hard seasons and half faiths? About confusion? I felt like I’ve lost myself a bit.
I grew up in a beautiful, liturgical church. We celebrated communion every Sunday. There was no children’s church. I sat in the folding chairs of the temporary sanctuary with my white patent shoes dangling inches above the ground. I wore matching cotton fold-over socks with lace trim. On Easter Sunday, my joy was made complete by simple gloves and straw hats with ribbon trim.
I still dream about going back to my home church, with it’s white and high ceilings and worn, wood beams.
In those folding chairs with the kneelers in front, I squirmed through the never ending preparation for Communion. Communion meant you got to shuffle down your aisle, walk around the sanctuary, smile shyly at your friends with their still sitting legs swinging away. Kneeling there, waiting for the wine and the wafer to be prepared and surrendered? I never felt so impatient for what was next like I did kneeling there.
And then it was time to press my round childhood knees into the velvet at the altar and push my bony elbows into the spit-shined wood railing. I would raise my hands, one placed on top of the other, and receive that wafer with the Cross pressed in the middle. I waited for the Common Cup. I took a bitter sip. The reverend spoke over me, wiped the cup with a clean, white, linen cloth. It was always folded perfectly.
I walked back to my seat, imaginary arms linked with all the hearts in that room. I stole quick glances and toothy grins with silly boys and preening girls. The whole sanctuary was filled with the drum of shoes shuffling, chairs squeaking, kneelers smacking up, the swoosh of Sunday best dresses. We moved together. We sang. We bowed low under the banner of the Lord and His beauty.
Writing is like waiting for Communion. Sometimes you are sitting in that chair that feels too big, your feet swinging wildly with impatience for what will come. You feel too young. You feel too old. You feel wriggly. You feel you’ll never make it. You look out the sunny window and wonder what you will eat for lunch.
The best part is when you lift your words up, surrender them. You hear them swish in a common cup. You take bitter and sweet sips. You steal glances. Your heart soars. You link arms with the world.
But you can’t skip the preparation. The waiting. In the waiting space, I’m learning that words not coming easy is not the end of writing. In some contradictory way, it is the beginning. Sometimes the best place to start is nowhere: embracing the void of words and knowing that a feast and a common cup are coming.