Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On converging stories and hearing voices

I grew up with an intermittent longing to play piano. Not until I got older, however, did I hear songs - or snatches of them - in my head, like the words on the tip of the tongue, not quite formed. If I was near a piano, I would sit down and let my fingers rest on the keys, poised between mounting desire and frustration, consumed by my inability to give musical expression to what I was hearing. 

Sometimes, the same is true with writing. The difference is, it carries a heavier weight, deeper pain, greater cost, to not find expression. Instead of hearing music, I hear voices; voices inaudible to all but the ears of the soul. These days, the core of who I am feels inextricably bound with giving voice to what I'm seeing, hearing, sensing, in the world around me and how it intersects with mine. 

I grasp for words, not unlike I've done many times as a writer in the past. And at the same time, utterly unlike any grasping in the past. 

There's an urgency to what I find myself compelled to write. 

There's an overwhelming lack of words to wrap around it all, to know where to even begin. 

There are two stories converging, parallel voices. I am seeing the transition and turmoil of my inner world reflected back to me in the natural world I fiercely love. It's as if we're both groping along in the dark, clasping hands tight, in this journey together for better or worse. To hear one speak is to know, in some facet, a curve of the other, for we belong to each other. But I am the one with a voice that carries through the noise of a human-centric world.

And there's confusion and fear, over whether it should all tumble out as a rant or dirge, prophet or poet, mystic or madwoman, another voice drowned out among the many. As if there's only one way this voice should sound, instead of the natural rise and fall of inflection and tone and cadence and style that voices tend to have throughout the telling of a story. 

It feels too big, too vulnerable, too painful, too unresolved. Too sacred to do justice to the depths of beauty and raw ugliness of it. So much so, these days, I don't even want to try.

It's a magnificent, terrifying racket in my soul and I fear that, sitting down to write it, I'll once again find my fingers on the keys with no sound coming out.

But still, I try. I begin here, and I begin again and again, as many times as it takes to start. And when words fail, as they often do, I come with pictures.

These images come from one of my favorite places in all of Seattle, down by a corner of the lake in the neighborhood I call home. After a mild, dry winter and a hot, dry summer, we are in the midst of drought, ravaged by numerous wildfires in other parts of the state. I choose to let these have the final words of this post today, as I have no way of wrapping things up neatly. 

And neither do they.



  1. I'm glad to see you here, Amber. Words come picture by picture, I think, especially for those big messy things.

  2. Oh friend...
    I love you, and I am so deeply moved - both by your words and by your photography.
    I hear your heart and I resonate with its rhythm here.

    1. And what a gift this is - and you are - to me. I love you.

  3. I was reminded of the verses that say creation groans, waiting to be released. Sometimes the greatest grief I feel is what happens to creation because of the introduction of sin to the world. It is a soul-deep mourning that is impossible to capture in words.

    Personal soul grief and transformation often does the same thing - it makes me speech-less. But, what you write always touches something deep inside me. So, your music sings, and the melody makes sense, even if you think you're at the piano without notes...


    1. You captured that perfectly, Sharon: "a soul-deep mourning." That is exactly what it is for me when I witness creation hurting. And yes, it is reminiscent of those verses that speak of groaning, waiting for release. I feel that, down in my bones.

      And thank you, once more, for letting me know that my words here are a melody that makes sense to you...

  4. Amber,
    Once again, you inspire me with your courageous ability to sit in the midst of what is...the ache of it I read your words, this verse came to mind: "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God...the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now." (Romans 8:19 &22)...and then there is our groaning (Rom. 8:23) and the Spirit's groanings on our behalf (Rom. 8:26....Thank you, dear one, for the gift of you and your words :-) God keeps bringing you to mind...praying for you now.

    1. Dolly, your words strengthened my heart when I read them. What a gift. Thank you for being here, for seeing me where I am, for thinking of me. Love to you, friend.