Words About Words
This past weekend was spent camping, hiking, relaxing, playing, and worshiping in the stunning beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Time away is good for many things—to clear the head, to unplug, to read, reflect, refocus. It’s also a wonderful time for un-agenda’d conversation around the fire, along the trail, and over meals.
One such conversation this weekend had to do with writing. Blogging, in particular. Some people were commenting that they had read this or that post on my blog and the conversation turned to how and why I write so much in this space. Now, I am by no means a “prolific” blogger—at least not in comparison with some writers out there who somehow seem to be able to churn out (often very good) material daily! But as I look in the rearview mirror of this blog, I do see a fair number of words—whether in posts or in comment threads. Why?
I have confessed on more than one occasion here to having somewhat ambivalent feelings about adding my contribution to an online world that is drowning in words. But I don’t stop. Apparently, I somehow manage to overcome my ambivalence and keep the words coming. Apparently this whole blogging thing must be doing something for me… Aside from feeding my ego… er, I mean, providing a forum to graciously impart the unplumbed depths of my wisdom… Sigh.
Thankfully, I didn’t talk about the unplumbed depths of my personal insecurities in my Rocky Mountain conversation this weekend. What I did say, was something to the effect of, “I write because it’s how I process and figure out what I think about things.” It didn’t sound very articulate or profound, but it was the best I could come up with. Today, I came across this much more eloquent explanation from Sarah Bessey in a guest post over at Adam McHugh’s Introverted Church (a blog whose lifespan is, regrettably, drawing to a close—I have very much appreciated Adam’s insights, both in his blog and in his fantastic book, Introverts in the Church). Sarah expresses almost perfectly what I would have liked to say last weekend:
Part of my spiritual discipline of writing is the act of writing itself, the self-discovery, the tracing of God in my own life and questions and doubts and struggles. But the other part of my writing life is that I feel connected by this work. I feel like it is one of the few things I have to give to the world. Blogging has changed my life, my spirituality, my opinions, my relationships, my heart, my mind, and I make no apologies for that (even if “blogging” is an excessively ugly word.) God has used this medium to profoundly change me, yes, but somehow, weirdly, he’s also managed to include a few other people in that, and now I feel like I’m part of a bigger story.
Such very good words in defence of, well, words.
Image courtesy of Ruth Bergen Braun.
It is interesting to think about why humanity writes. Why did we ever start? I don’t think we can answer that question.
I read recently that some of the ancient symbolic expression found on cave walls was probably placed there by neanderthals, not humans. If writing is linked to symbolic expression, then it appears to be something that humanity did not invent, but that is part of the material of which we are made.
In the ancient world, some people believed that the alphabet contained all wisdom, and was divine in that sense. Hebrew people believed this.
I put these two observations together to explain why we write anything. This thing we call writing is part of us, and yet it reveals things mysterious to us: wisdom. I am speculating, of course. We can never really answer why.
What I enjoy most in writing is playing with words. They are such mysterious particles of experience.
Yes, writing is a part of us. At their best, perhaps our words are a kind of response to the divine logos, the Word made flesh, the reason or underlying structure behind all that is and will be.
Response to divine logos is a beautiful way to express it and to think of what we do when we write, even why we write.
Reblogged this on Learning to Live and commented:
Ryan says eloquently how I feel about writing, and I like the quote from Sarah Bessey at the end. Enjoy!
Brilliant quote. Thanks for your… words! These one’s and the many others long written and yet to come.
Thanks, Chris. Much appreciated!
With being a minister and regular preaching as well as blogging I have found that over the years I have almost ceased to ‘journal’ which, for me, is simply writing without any intention of public consumption. I am beginning to wonder about the loss of that practice and how particular kinds of writing effect our thinking and formation.
I’ve been on an identical trajectory, David. And I have lately been wondering precisely about what you mention here. Something important is lost, I think, when every word (implicitly or explicitly) must pass through the grid of, “how can this be used in a sermon/blog post/article?”
I have recently made fitful and inconsistent attempts to start journaling again. I’m embarrassed to say that so far it feels like I am writing blog posts to myself. Evidence, if there ever was any, that this kind of writing has formed me in some not-so-healthy ways…