Thursday, December 12, 2013

When you need permission to ponder

Christmas is barreling toward us at full speed and the end of the year tumbles so near - a whole other year, Oh my - and still, I feel strangely silent.  As a writer, my lips have seemed buttoned up for months now, rarely parting for words to be shared here on pages, as if settling in for a long winter and barren ground.  At times, I'm at peace with this, confident I must wait it out, wait for the signs of spring to shoot up from the ground.  And other days, I'm all-a-tumble inside, wrestling this inner conflict to the ground, these seeds of doubt that I'm even worthy of calling myself a writer.  

I read the words of others, people I have grown to love and admire, and I'm lost in the beauty of their prose, the depth of their insights, the skill of their craft.  And then, I fight this pull toward comparison that leads to nothing good.  Nothing.  I feel humility, yes, but it doesn't stop there. It drags me downward, into myself, and I wonder if it's all a childish dream, this desire to be a writer, whatever that means or looks like for me.  I wonder if I have what it takes, if I have anything of beauty to offer, if I'm willing to sacrifice what it takes to get there, wherever "there" is.  I wonder if it will be just another dream strewn along the highway of discarded dreams in my life.  Another thing I couldn't live up to.  

I wonder if I'm too afraid.

And as I wonder all this, even as I sit and type these words out on this bright white screen, I think of Christmas.  I think of Mary, how in the story of Jesus' birth, the author says that she pondered all these things in her heart.  All the things - from the angel's visit to her, when she was chosen to be Christ's mother, to Joseph's response to her when he found out she was pregnant with a baby not his own, to their long journey to Bethlehem and her giving birth to this God-Child in a humble space, to the appearance of shepherds and wise men bowing down to worship her baby - she took in with what I imagine was intense observation and quiet reflection, wonder and awe.  

She was silent, not without words, but storing up words in her heart.  Tucking away experiences, emotions, memories, almost as if sowing seeds in the winter that would one day yield a garden. 

She pondered.

 And I wonder, Mary, did you feel so afraid that you wouldn't be up for this - for being Christ's mom?  Did you doubt yourself, or wonder if someone else might be more gifted for this great honor?  Did you struggle with self-doubt, comparison, the fear of Joseph leaving you, of losing your reputation?  All I know is that you had enough humility to accept that God had, in fact, chosen you for this.  That he counted you worthy.  You had the faith to say yes, even, perhaps, in the face of fears and self doubt.  You said yes, and you did not turn back. 

There isn't much about myself I can relate to with Mary this season, but I think, rather than berate myself for lack of words or output as a writer, I can relate to this pondering.  For it's been a year.  A year of so much I haven't been able to put into words.  A year of stories and experiences I could put into words but have chosen not to, for it's not their time yet.  And so I've stored them up in my heart, and as the year draws to a close, I am held in this space of reflection, gratitude, expectation. 

And I can learn from Mary's humble faith.  From her yes heart, her resolve to believe what God said about her more than what she could see with her eyes or feel in her emotions, more than circumstances declared. 

So friends, if this is you, too, this season, can we do something together?  Can we give ourselves permission to ponder things in our hearts?  The time for words will come, in season.   

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Joining up with Heather