Giving of Ourselves

5703965442_0f2a7dec44_oSince I am busy writing my sermon for our college’s Christmas Convocation, I thought I would share a post written by my friend, Dr. Claire Colombo.  Claire is the Director of the Center for Writing and Creative Expression at the Seminary of the Southwest.  She’s also a beautiful writer who I met at the Beyond Walls conference at Kenyon College.

Claire’s post, “Shakespeare’s Atoms”, contemplates the science of how we humans emit atoms over the course of our lives.  It  made me pause to consider the implications of giving and not giving of ourselves.  She writes:

We must choose to share what we make. We must choose to feed others. We must choose to labor in love.

We can also choose not to. On the micro level, when we don’t release the stuff of ourselves, that stuff becomes toxic. We get sick, we suffocate, we die. This happens on the macro level, too. When we hold on to “Shakespeare atoms” we no longer need—habits, beliefs, grudges, fears—we not only become less vital, but we deprive others of gifts only we can give. We deprive them of the “genius” (from gignere, “to beget”) of ourselves. And there’s nothing the “biosphere” loves more than transforming our depleted matter into new life for others. So why not give it a hand?

Give Claire’s post a read.  It will likely make you stop to consider your self-giving too.

[Feature Image: Martin Moscosa]


Nothing to Say: Master Class with Marie Howe

0001-37193920“We have nothing to say.” This was how Marie Howe began her Master Class at the writing conference I am attending this week. Her point was that words come to us, words write us, if we can open ourselves to receiving them. Marie, in her kind, encouraging manner, was determined to teach us something she believed we could all do—radical receptivity. “It’s kind of a relief,” she continued, “to know that you have nothing to say. Because it means you don’t have to be smart or interesting, or holy, or high. You just have to wait and see what comes out of your pen. Just pay attention and let go.”

When my favorite poet told me I had nothing to say, I’ll admit, it was kind of a blow. I mean, my blog is called Something to Say. But I received her point well because my process involves writing myself into what I think. I, oftentimes, have no idea what I am writing about until draft after draft has been scribbled off and I finally discover where the effort is leading me. “Look for the energy in your writing,” advised Marie. “Don’t look for ideas. Run your hand over the page. Where is the heat?” The whole process is, of course, incredibly spiritual.

She had us writing during most of the class. You could easily do the exercises on your own. Free write for two to three minutes on the following prompts:

I could not tell

I could not tell

Today I saw

Today I heard

From what you have written in these prompts, pull out the words and phrases that contain the most energy, the most heat, the most interesting combination of words and sounds. Then rearrange them on a separate sheet of paper. If you’re not surprised by what is pieced together, do it again.

Here are the words I received through this exercise:

I could not tell what my heart wants or needs

or how I feel without her beside me

voices of frustration, my inability to share

I had made for myself and filled my own cup

how could she stop

[adapted feature image: Darren Hester ]