In half an hour I'm going to inspect a little English row house (complete with a garden) in the hopes that it will be mine for several years to come. As I sit in a coffee shop just down the road, late day light upon my hands and golden on my face, I'm contemplating the many ways and loves and unexpected twists that have led me to this moment. And as I do, I also find that it's time to write again. To write afresh as a new chapter of my story begins. Friends, I'm back. I well-know that I may be writing into the ether since I've been just about the most absent and irregular writer here possible. But for all that, this little space is the one in which I have long delighted to weave a good story of life as I untangled what I found in the world. This place has been vital to me in crafting the good and hard and joyous and difficult things of life into something beautiful. I'm sorry I've been gone. I've missed your company. And I'm glad, with a quiet, bright-eyed satisfaction, to be back.
One of the reasons I've been absent is that its just taken time to figure out afresh what I wanted to say. In creative writing workshops, people are always talking about finding your 'voice'. To a large extent, I think I dismissed this advice as over-complicating what was a fairly straightforward process in which one simply sat down and wrote. Whatever words and images haunted my inner thought - that's what I wrote. There's your voice.
But in the past year, I have discovered that there is a shifting of self that comes with some decisions, some new chapters of life, and as I've navigated the altered horizons of my world, I've actually found it difficult to get my hands on my 'voice' and further, my idea of the world. That's definitely been reflected here.
But the quiet hasn't been negative. Rather, it's the kind of speechlessness you find when you're quite surprised, when the world expands or shifts with the unexpected, like when a gorgeous bird settles on the porch rail in front of you, or someone calls your name from across a crowd and you see a long-lost friend, or a shout startles you from your sleep. For a bit, you can't quite muster the words to say what you think about it all, you just live it. I've had a year of such startlings.
I'm beginning quite an adventure, you see. Many of you will already know that... I'm getting married! (Glory be). To a tall, green-eyed Dutchman named Thomas, who's beginning studies in theology and training for ministry this year. He is, in case any one is wondering, just about the best man in the world. And yes. I'm going to be a character in an Elizabeth Goudge novel and live in a vicarage with a garden. God is fun. (Don't you ever doubt it.) It's definitely taken some time to get that fact settled into the soil of my reality. Husband to be, life in England, a house of my own...oh my!
And then, I should have known this in starting, but two years of intense theological study (and also intense work accompanied by frequent exhaustion) has left me with a fuller vocabulary than before, but also a bit of bewilderment. My essential view of the world hasn't changed, but I find myself with new vantage points, new categories of description, and I am learning to integrate the creative with the theological in a way that more fully, more capably, hopefully, more beautifully articulates the truest things I know.
I'll be hammering it all out here!
I've spent almost every Saturday morning in these past two tumultuous years at a favorite corner coffee shop with an open notebook and a flat white (such a glorious coffee). I haven't gotten much past journaling as I figures out myself and my life and all the new adventures, but I've kept up the rhythm of walking ahead by words, and its time to emerge from my little cocoon of discovery to write afresh.
And try those new wings...
I'm off to inspect my cottage!
But I'll be back soon.