And Old Journal, New Thoughts

An old journal ended up beside my chair this morning. I’m not sure why it was out of its place on the shelf where it’s been since 2006. Given no other explanation, (and actually I don’t want one), I’ll say it was “spirited” there with divine purpose in mind.

It’s one of my favorite journals, purchased on the Rialto bridge in Venice after much negotiation with my heart in its choosing. Its soft red leather holds sweet memories and still molds in my hands after all these years; the long leather thong wraps itself around this journal three times; I tuck in the end that comes to a point and secure the words inside. That pleases me.

I filled this journal at a time of major transition in my life and conversion in my soul. I was leaving my work as a parish pastor and wondering what was next. There are pages and pages of angst, oceans of revelation, miles of wondering, acres of inner exploration and a field of just luscious words, some poems. That stirs me.

I love and despair of what I wrote now as I re-read it this morning. It was all so sincere and yet here, fifteen years later, I am living with so many of the same questions and wondering about so many of the same steps to take. I often use that metaphor that says, “yes, yes, it’s the same questions but I’m asking them from a higher step on the spiral staircase.” And that is so true. I’ve taken at least a hundred steps up those stairs, seeing things differently at every turn of that spiral. That graces me.

And yet I am tired of the metaphor. Not that it doesn’t fit or tell the truth. Only that I don’t need to keep dragging those questions up the stairs with me anymore. I’m at a place I don’t need answers. I’m okay not to know. I can choose that. That frees me.

So much of that journal about wanting to write, and aching to write and regretting not writing. Even though I was. Such paradox. That amuses me.

This past week I pushed “send” on an email message to a publisher with the completed manuscript of my memoir of walking the Camino in 2007 attached. My red journal was completed just weeks before I walked that pilgrimage in Spain. I have written what I wanted to write about those 500 miles of taking steps– and the questions I took with me from the red journal. I sent the book off. That gives me peace.

And yet the deeper peace is simply relaxing about the writing. Not relaxing about the discipline of it. I still need to have the seat in the chair. But easing the expectation of it. Even in writing this blog. Too long it has been captured in making it part of my ego identity. The invitation here now is to let the muse have its way. To enjoy “stringing words together” as my friend, Michelle one said. To trust that what is next, with my writing, with my life, is all unfolding just as it should. That relaxes me.

I’m beginning to see that relaxing into life, rather than defending against it, answers a lot of questions, relieves that angst, and opens so much potential to living my life in truth. Writing just to enjoy it, even with the work that it necessarily entails. That intrigues me.

I’m putting the red journal back on the shelf. Or maybe….. I will let it go.

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