I think dignity is overrated

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Throughout her life she was ironic and strict with her thoughts. She went dancing most Friday nights in town. People said that Maytree, or felicity, or solitude had driven her crazy. People said she had been an ugly girl, or a child movie star; that she inherited fabulous sums and lived in a shack without pipes or wires; that she read too much; that she was wanting in ambition and could have married anyone. She lacked a woman's sense of doom. She did what she wanted - like who else on earth? All her life she found dignity overrated. She rolled down dunes.

Annie Dillard, The Maytrees
It was when Danielle introduced me to Dillard's book that I saw words really could breathe. I had some suspicion of it before, but I confined my use of the art to short poetry that didn't rhyme. I wrote what everyone else wrote, said what they said, as they said it, without nearing the vulnerable spaces in me that know words for feeling.

"I love to write," I'd say, then ignore the quiet places where the words are made and wonder why none came to me. Habit took over, I suppose. I could put subject, verb, predicate, phrase together so it made sense. There wasn't much beauty in my writing, but I wasn't seeking it; I envied those who wrote beauty that released my own spirit. My own attempts read pretentious, hypocrite to me.

Spilling me here on these pages and pages, I painted by number, telling familiar stories, ambling safe away from the edge of the high-walled cliff where I lived. "Can there be more to me than I have written?" I asked. Yes. There is always more.

I wrote as I spoke, in everyone else's language, denying the speaking quiet places in my heart, trying to be the me I should be to share when I am not, when I am like someone else, when I am not like anyone, when I am like everyone I know and deeply, deeply loved.

I think it was Amber's poetry, or Ann's prose, or Alison's description, or maybe it really all started with my writer-friends, Sara (who gives the most delightful anecdotes and reviews) or Heidi (who writes the most marvelous letters). Somehow, the words have gained permission to slip past my weary into my living, and in sharing the living, they pour me vulnerable out to you, to Him, to passersby who don't even care. No, I am not a writer. I am a person, passioned with heart-words to empty God-Life from this vessel, pour it light and beautiful out over other dust He is molding.

I am wary of pretension; this passion has hardly seen day. I practice sword-swallowing, glory-scattering, kneeling. The words come; I wait sometimes to speak them; I weigh my heart, but I don't deny the words so often anymore.

It's like rolling down dunes. Seriously.


And for a little more perspective (as if you wanted it), read about The Best Book. What a work the Holy Spirit always does in us through God's own Words...

And just for fun: Amy shares a delightful narrative of something I've done myself. Love it!


L.L. Barkat said...

It's like rolling down dunes. Oh yes. And can you feel the sand across your palms?

I loved your comment over at LNY. Maybe that's what happens when we say "This is who I am." It opens us to the Other and we can begin to dance beyond ourselves. "I Am that I Am"... gives my small I Am a way to truly be.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you've inspired me, Kelly, to stretch my writing. And to stretch my photography. At times I feel torn between the two. How to do both and be a wife and mother and child of God? It's hard. It seems to go in cycles. It's hard to be good at everything, and it's hard not allow yourself to be good at something to be better at something else.

Anonymous said...

That would be "how do I do both and be a wife and mother . . ."

Laure said...

... and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

- Anais Nin

... to your unfolding, Kelly.

Carrie said...

And you have such a beautiful, individual voice. We're so glad you write. :)

Cassandra Frear said...

Love the image of rolling down the dunes.

And I adore Annie Dillard's writing.

Deborah Ann Erdmann said...

Your words jump right off the page and aim for my heart. 'Glory-scattering' .... Ahhhh

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