Friday, November 21, 2014

Close to the bone (Five-minute Friday)

I notice how my writing swings gentle on this pendulum between the beautiful, concrete observations of ordinary life and the beautiful, mystery-laden metaphors of life deep beneath the surface. And they overlap, of course, as life so often does, for rarely is the reflection of a bird or a walk by the lake only about what I experience with my senses, but also how it interacts with my spirit and the running script of life unfolding. 

But then there are the deep, deep things that can seem so sterile written with words too direct or stark; that require a softer language, a looser grip of words bearing down on life. And the things I could not put into words to my satisfaction, even as a writer, because I am caught up in the midst of living them and they are far, far from finished. 

These are secrets, I'm finding out. And secrets, in the purest kind of way, that are best kept without words, or few words, or words not for public consumption - at least for now. 

Because I write life-in-process, instead of from a position of looking-back (at least, most of the time), when I'm struggling for words to write, it is often because of one or two things. 

I am not paying attention.

Or - 

I am processing things whose times are not yet for sharing in my writing.

This past week, I sat down several times to write and each time, came away with nothing but fragments and this nagging sense of unrest. 

Hold onto these things, I heard. Wait. Press into the secret. Now is not the time.

And I squirmed a little, because, isn't this a huge part of why I write? To offer a glimpse into an unfinished story - an authentic story - where doubt and faith coexist? Where sorrow and hope grasp hands? Where the unknown is embraced?

Yes. But now is not the time for this story. The one that is "close to your bone" that you wonder if you ought to be sharing?

Let it be. 

There may come a day, several years or more down the road, when I write this story, not in the throes of process, but from a safe enough distance. Because sometimes, I'm finding, a little distance is necessary. And good. Even for a writer like me.

So if you hang around here for awhile, you will still see that pendulum swing, with the rhythms and layers of life. And you may not hear anything some weeks, for this may be my way of taking notice of secret things and stepping out of the flow of blogging to give them space to become what they will. 

Just as I am becoming.

* * * * *

Linking up with Kate and the Five-minute Friday community of writers, to the prompt of "Notice."

I need to give some credit here to another dear writer, Sarah Bessey, whose status on Facebook yesterday put into words the things that had been unsettled in my heart this past week. Such beautiful words...

"Sometimes I wonder if, in our rush for authenticity, we have forgotten how beautiful it can be to keep secrets. Not the shameful kind but the "just for us" kind, I mean. I've purposely been practicing the spiritual discipline of secrecy for much of what is going on in my heart and spirit these past few months. At first it was so difficult and weird - is it real if you don't document it on Facebook or blog about it?! - but now I've relearned the truth that new life often comes forth in quiet, hidden, and sacred places. In the meantime, keeping secrets and holding more of our stories and evolutions, our victories or sorrows close to the bone suits just fine. Who knew, eh? As a writer or any kind of minister or artist perhaps, it's hard not to turn one's life into content or impose narrative on every moment. The discipline of keeping secrets is a good cure for simply letting it unfold for a while, without expectation of affirmation or criticism."


  1. I love this. Every story does have a time and a place. Some stories must remain 'secret' while we process them, they simmer, we marinate in them until it is time. If told before they are ripe, they lose their value. Keep it 'for such a time as this'. Blessings! Thanks for sharing!

    1. "Every story does have a time and a place." Yes, they sure do. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts and presence here.

  2. Amber, I really liked this one today. Also, I have a private blog that no one has access to. I put the private things there. They are written down because it helps me to struggle through the words. Words can be healing. Words can make us strong. I believe that some words are not meant to be spoken at this time and place. I am content to write them down and leave them alone. Thank you so much for sharing with us. and I loved your friends words on keeping things secret. I am not sure that everyone should know everything about us. I don't believe that is bad. I just think that some things are very personal and we need to keep them close to our hearts.

    1. I hear you. And I think it's good, as you said, to keep some things close to our hearts. It can be a challenge in this day, with so much networking going on in these spaces, to know what to keep as secrets. But for those that are shared bravely in vulnerability and those that are kept close in quiet trust, these are both of great value, aren't they? Thank you, again, for being here, friend.

  3. Amber, this is so fabulous, my friend. I love how you speaking this out -- this truth about the good, growing in the hidden place secrets -- shared something so life-giving with me. Though your point was that you're not ready to share some things -- that very thing in itself brought life to me. That something I've not yet been able to put words or exactly thoughts to gave me hope and an exhale.
    You were encouraged by Sarah Bessey, and you've encouraged me in return, not to cling so tightly, not to work so hard to fashion thoughts into sound bites or profundities. So much is always being worked out in the places we cannot see, is it not? I love you so. Thank you for this.

    1. It's kind of funny, isn't it - to be sharing about not sharing? Oh, us writers, eh? ;-D I'm grateful it spoke life to you, grateful for the words it put to your thoughts, grateful for the hope and exhale. I do love the call I feel to share bravely in process, but this is a special kind of challenge for me, too, to be ok with not turning everything I'm going through into context for this story I'm telling here. Not that I do that entirely anyhow, but the permission, the words she put to it for me, were liberating and helpful. I love you so, too, with all my heart.

  4. I know exactly how you feel. There are things I've been itching to write about for a few years now but the timing wasn't right. In the past 3 months, God has sounded the alarm and now I'm almost paralyzed by the freedom! I'm an in-process writer as well but now as I write, I see glimpses of what's to come. I believe it's because I'm finally using my words bravely, for God - with his prompting. Praying for peace in the waiting, and eyes to see what's to come!

    1. I'm so glad you're using your words bravely now, Liz - I've noticed the change in your writing, the depth and strength coming forth in your honesty. And that you're getting glimpses of what's to come is hopeful.

      The funny thing is, these are my brave words - the in process ones. Much of my story is not easy to tell, and I have been learning these past several years, how to step out just a little bit more and a little bit more in taking risks. I guess bravery can look so different in different times of our lives, which is just so cool.

      Thank you for the prayers, friend. You've got mine, too. xoxo

  5. Interesting thoughts, and I think I understand. There is something happening in my life right now that I am choosing not to share in Blog Land. I can't describe why not, but I think your words have captured my feelings exactly. Sometimes the Lord wants to do things deep inside of us. And those things sometimes need to be just between Him and us. How sweet that is.


    1. So good to hear these thoughts helped capture feelings of yours, as Sarah's thoughts helped capture mine. All this sharing can go so far around here, which I love :-)

      And yes, there are the deep things that are kept between us and Jesus... treasures all in their own.

  6. Beautiful [A fellow FMF-er]