Sunday, December 11, 2011

our light has come

ok, so i haven't written daily during december, at least not here at writemuch. but i have been writing a lot in my job and in my head. why just a few days ago, in the wee hours of the morning, i dreamed that i had found the characters and plot to the next harry potter (well, HP wannabe)... literally dreamed up the world and had actors taking parts in the screen version, even setting it up for the sequel.

if only i could remember it. in the middle of the dream i dreamed that i was thinking now this is a great story, so great in fact that it is unforgettable. apparently not so unforgettable that when i woke just minutes later, the whole thing had vanished more quickly than dear ol' harry under his invisible cloak.

and so i have vowed that i will wake myself up from a dream of this sort again and write the whole damn thing down (even if i can't read my own handwriting, which is hard to do in the middle of the day, much less in the wee hours with the lights off.)

sometimes, though, it's not about my writing at all. sometimes the joy of words comes through the people i love writing and reading their own stories — stories i admittedly helped pull out of them — but their words, their dreams, beautifully rendered on the page.

today was that kind of day.

each sunday during Advent, i've had the privilege to mentor a group of writers who share the pews with me at my church. we've been gathering for years, off and on, during sunday school, to put ourselves into the stories of the Bible and write our way out. i think we are in our 8th year, though we've departed the text and written about Lent from time to time.

it's been a remarkable journey. and i have grown to love and respect all the people who sit at the table with me, churning out their personal stories with great enthusiasm and humility. some of them have been with me for years, others new to the table, but all are searching for the role God plays in their daily life, in their struggles to be good people and parents, to work through their grief, to accept life when plans go awry. you can't know how much i admire how they put it right there on the table, when too often their instructor is not yet ready to do the same. they have written about their marriages, children and siblings they have lost, riffs in families and the struggles and joys that come with this busy season. they've written with humor and with grace, and we have made good use of the box of Kleenex that sits in the middle of our table.

and today, this group of writers shared their stories with the larger congregation. i felt like a mother watching her child perform, take her first steps or riding away from me with her back to me as she peddles away on her bike. in the words these dear friends read, i saw growth, too, as writers and as Christians who have come to understand that God is there, even in the middle of sadness.

it's funny. we set out each season with a set of readings and no idea what we will write about or if our stories will connect in any way to each other, as any good collection should. and every single year, as i begin placing the stories in our collection, it's a goosebump feeling, because stories set apart by circumstance, gender and generation are woven together as if from the same cloth.

this year's collection is all about light, the aha! kind of light that comes when we finally understand we are on the right road.

advent: noun. "coming into being or use."

i'd say that's what this year's collection is all about. but why don't you see for yourself? our light has come, and you can read all about it here.

but that's not all. this afternoon i sat in the audience to hear my mentor, poet Sally Buckner, read from her collection, Nineteen Visions of Christmas. i was sally's student almost 40 years ago at peace college, and one of the joys of the season throughout the years has been to receive a Christmas poem from her as her card. she has collected some familiar to me, and many not, and listening to the cadence and clarity of her words today reminded me of why i want to be a writer, and how much she has taught me about the craft. i can only hope i have taught my own students half as much.

what a joy, in the midst of this season, to be both teacher and student in one single day. but come to think of it, shouldn't every day be just like that?

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