“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” Mark Twain

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Empty Vessels and Blank Paper

Once upon a time, a widow was about to lose her 2 children, both sons. The man to whom her dead husband owed money was coming to take them into slavery as payment for the debt. Fortunately, the prophet Elisha was around and the woman cried out to him. "Help me!" He asked her what she had, which was only a little oil. He told her to borrow all the jugs and bowls that she could from neighbors and bring them to her house. Then, she was to lock herself and her sons in their house and pour oil into each borrowed vessel until full. Like magic, the oil continued filling until each and every jug and bowl was filled. Then, the flow of oil stopped. Elisha told her to sell the oil, pay the debts and live on the rest.

This story is from 2 Kings 4:1-7 (Yeah, the Bible)
I don't want to go all preachy here, but this story is amazing. My pastor has been doing a series called "Empty Vessels" and this is the story he started out with. This morning he touched on the responsibility of the widow to make this happen. It got me thinking about my writing in light of God's purpose for me.

"Empty" expresses a need; a need in me or a need in the world. I need to create. When I don't have some kind of creative project or three going on, I'm empty. Creating fills me, and I can give to others. Evidently, God sees a need in the world I can fill with my writing. Maybe one person, maybe thousands, but there's need. As a person who likes to encourage others, I can meet some needs.

The widow only had a little oil to her name. But she saw it as an asset when asked what she had to bring to the table. What do I have to offer people? Maybe a little wisdom born of experience, or a sense of humor or a different way of looking at something. Arranging some words around an idea that expresses it eloquently. Or hope or "Wow, someone understands." An entertaining story. Who knows what else.

Today, I saw the blank white pages I fill as empty vessels. I lock myself away with my computer or pen and notebook and fill vessels with ideas and stories, with myself. We creatives pour ourselves into our work. There's a phrase that writers slit our wrists and bleed onto the page. Maybe melodramatic, but figuratively true.

Empty vessels might also be the needs of the women who will read my books. Maybe something I write will help fill a need, spark some hope, ignite a smile or at least provide a respite from the tyranny of life.

Elisha told the widow to sell the oil. God knows, I'm trying to sell my books. And I'm giving some away, too. It would be awesome to be able to pay off our debts with my profits and live off the rest. Is that God's plan here? I hope so.

But later on in his message, Pastor Ron said, "What God's going to do might not look like I want it to." Hmmm...

If you're ever in Peoria, AZ on a Sunday morning, stop in at Generation Life Church, Peoria Ave and the 101 Freeway. Guaranteed hugs and a free cup of coffee. Ask for Terry. That's what I'm known as there.

How can you help fill the empty vessels of other people? What fills your empty vessel?

A note on the word vessel. We all know that a vessel is something that's built to contain something. It's a word we don't use much except maybe "blood vessel" of pertaining to a boar or ship. We don't say to our kids, "Please wash some vessels so we can have drinks with dinner." Or "We need to recycle those empty soda vessels." Or do you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Logjams and Naps

I think this will simply a dumping of the annoying contents of my brain which feels clogged up. No real reason. Maybe, like vomiting when my tummy feels bad, I'll feel better for it. You might not.

My works in progress are not progressing as I would like. I feel like I have a log jam in my head. I know where my stories are going, I have ideas, but nothing is flowing. If I get a few hundred words a day out, that's good. Most of it just sits in my head. Getting moldy like strawberries in my fridge.

For awhile, I had a pretty good writing routine down but that was interrupted by the three week field research gig in May. I thought I'd get my groove back after that. But, no. I thought that planning for the library programs would fit in, but not as nicely as I hoped. Then there was a job application that took me forever. And hanging out with my brother's kids while he and his wife went away, and then the job interview.

Oh, and let me not fail to mention the many naps. I'm not sure if I'm in hibernation mode because it's so blasted bright and hot out, or if I upped the laziness dial or if I'm anemic or what. But I want to sleep a lot. Getting out helps. But it doesn't help that the three other creatures in my house--my hubs and our two cats--sleep all day. Hubs has an excuse--he works nights.

This week I thought I'd be able to start back into a routine (although that word makes me cringe), but Mom went into the hospital again. So on top of the outside concern of what's wrong now, there's that inside one of...when? It could be anytime. It could be ten or twenty years.

Maybe I should just give in and watch movies all day. Do a little token house work each morning and work through my Netflix queue, supplementing it with Fassbender films from Amazon or Redbox. Devote a few minutes to Craig's List and Indeed.com to look for jobs. Give it up and wait for...what?

I thought straightening up the office would help. And cleaning up the clutter on my desk.

But, what I really need is a vacation. To get on a plane or in a car and head out to somewhere to talk to old friends and laugh and get reinspired. And I'm praying for that...