Sunday, July 14, 2013

of idleness and birthing creative fruit

Focus seems out of my grasp lately. I find myself wrestling with my inability to create anything substantial lately, whether in prose or song. My mind feels distracted. I do not enjoy the feeling of scattered thoughts. I came across a quotation from the poet/writer, Rainer Maria Rilke, this past week that I thought was fitting to my current state of mind: 

We lead our lives so poorly because we arrive in the present always unprepared, incapable, and too distracted for everything.

 I am beginning to feel like this is an accurate description of my days as of late. There is an apparent lack of direction or fruit from them that irks me terribly. I realize I lean too heavily upon seeing results instead of the patient, daily sowing and watering of seeds. Perhaps, there is something I am missing? A key ingredient that will bring abundance again? I am sure there are methods, disciplines, and levels of self-effort to push me to perform in the ideal manner. But, I do not desire a robotic, systematic way of pushing through days of static and the tension of idleness. 

I want an organic life. Embracing tensions. Living every interval of dissonance.  

Behind much idleness there is a restlessness, a waiting, a yearning. Even as I busy myself with practical, daily activities, my mind and heart feel inactive. Listless. Waiting for the moment to break through when every part of me is engaged and functioning and creating on the same level. Yet,  I am believing there is something to be found in the idle days. I am trusting that there is gold for the formation of our character and the edification and strengthening of the relationship between us and Emmanuel. Perhaps, idleness is not a dreaded cloud that we must fight against to move to a state of productivity. In the words of Rilke, I find there is a wisdom for this case of idleness:

 I have often wondered whether especially those days when we are forced to remain idle are not precisely the days spent in the most profound activity. Whether our actions themselves, even if they do not take place until later, are nothing more than the last reverberations of a vast movement that occurs within us during our idle days. In any case, it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot. 

Rilke couldn't have known that there was a depth behind his words that he had barely grasped. I think, for the Christian, it can be said something very similar with the emphasis upon the Holy Spirit's steady, patient work within these clay dwellings of our bodies. To be idle with confidence, with devotion, and possibly even with joy is freshly obtainable in our Lord, who works all things for our sanctification, who teaches us in the small whispers of every day. I truly believe He requires our idle spirits because that is where He can call forth things in our hearts that we barely know exist. Perhaps, these things, gifts, callings, visions, etc...perhaps, they are things we have long ignored or denied, or been completely unaware of in ourselves. He doesn't need us to be moving, working, and doing in a constant haze of effort. I think clouds of idleness our those seasons when we need to truly feel our innate restlessness. To know there is an abundance beyond. To grow in a trust that there is a kind Savior who will take us from glory to glory.

I once believed there to be work that was more spiritual than the other. I, quite often, placed the pursuits of life on a scale of more spiritual versus less spiritual, more Christ-glorifying and less Christ glorifying. But, through the gentle instructions of the Holy Spirit, I am beginning to relax my tight, spiritually-charged grip and grasping the hand of my Lord instead. Can He show me how to live this life most fully in a way that pleases and brings glory to His name? The "can He?" turns into "Will He?" "Does He want to be this close, this personal in my life?" He tears down my expectations of this life again and again. He gives me vision to see further, to see beyond the horizon that I sketched with my loose plans and dreams and ideas that seemed so...well, so Christian. So scripted. So boxed together in such a pretty fashion...surely, there is no way that there could be anything more spiritual and Christ-centered for me to do than those things which were so clear, so black and white, cut and dry, so founded upon His Scriptures? But, I sketch Him out like I know everything there is to know about Him and I forget....He is a mysterious God. Knowable. Distinct. Reachable. Intimate. Near. Yet, His heart and mind are unfathomably deep. His plans, no one could ever know. 

There is nothing more spiritual for me to be or to do than this place I am now. To sit and to breathe the hours of time, slowly and reverently. To know, on my most idle and restless day, Christ in me. Performance, circumstance, and location does not make Him any closer to me, nor qualify me as anymore holy or spiritual than I am with this simple truth of Christ in me.

I stumbled across a Carmichael quotation today. Ah, Amy. A kindred spirit. A missionary we can all idealize, but one who knew that the every day living of missionary work was not the romantic pursuit everyone likes to dream it is. It had its grand moments, but it was slow work. It was hard work. It was ordinary work. 
She understood intimacy with Christ in such a sweet, personal way. Her writings always communicate her union with Him. 

We have many songs concerning our Beloved; we often sing them, and listen to them being sung. All such songs were written in the Heavenly places where we "sit" when we are nearest to our Lord. In no other place can a true song concerning the Beloved be written. In no other place can it be truly sung of Him or truly sung to Him. (Amy Carmichael)

Even now, I have songs in my heart. Songs that haven't found their formation in chord progressions and rhythms. Songs that I know are waiting to arrive, to deliver healing to others, and to call forth the destiny of many individuals.

I think I sound a little crazy. I will be honest; I think I am just wasting a lot of time. 
Nevertheless, I have a belief in me that there will be a ripe harvest in this area of my life which has so often felt like an empty field. I have let weeds gather there because I needed to give up the work to Him. He calls me back to it now. But now in the way one would expect. He is training my eye to remain, not on the fruit to be received, but on the formation of the rows, the breaking up of the fallow ground, the formation of a seed, the moisture of the earth, the position of the sun, and the long walk, back and forth, between each row, concentrating upon each newly planted seedling, and the amount of water needed for each day's portion.  

Back and forth, back and forth. Entrusting. Surrendered to the quiet.


  1. So funny, I was in the middle of writing my latest blog and when I went to copy and paste a link to your last blog I saw this newest one. Good words for describing the way things feel right now. You are not alone in your waiting!

    1. Haha, yep! It is funny when we are on the same wavelength. ;)

  2. Ooh, this is lovely, E. I've been feeling as you've described here.

    Just a few days ago, I started a new writing project and have been trying to push "work/progress" into it, to make it fit a neat form. I bought a binder and divided it up into sections. I really think I just needed to start with a small, simple notebook and pen instead, which is what I'm going with begin with tomorrow.

    And also to let myself be a little wild with ideas and let the novel take shape over time naturally.

    I hope your idle period will be transformative for you. :) Many blessings.

    1. Thank you, Jade. Simplicity is definitely key. :) I really hope you are finding your own slow and steady fruit through letting your writing evolve naturally.