Spiritual Life & Creative Work

“Writing is like putting together Ikea furniture.
There’s a right way to do it, but nobody knows what it is.”

Paulette Perhach, author of Welcome To The Writier’s Life
qtd in How to Finally Write Your Nonfiction Book

Most every morning I take a few minutes to meditate and read from Daily Doses Of Wisdom. It helps me calm and see a bigger picture. I'm trying to learn to accept and let go. Good thing I'm working at it most every day. I have a lot to learn.

Today's dose from Mary Jo Meadow's and Kevin Culligan's book Christian Insight Meditation intrigued me:

Let us look at spiritual life as many spiritual giants have portrayed it. At the beginning, the work is mostly ours. We must do our part or nothing else will happen. In the middle, increasing purity is both God's and our work together. In the end, God will do it all. Twentieth-century Vedantic mystic Sri Aurobindo added that, in the very, very end, we realize it was God all along.

I like that movement even if I'm not a religious person. It begins with my choice, becomes the work and me, and maybe at the very, very end I'll realize that it was the work all along and I was a willing instrument of it.

Writing is like that. It first requires the choosing. People say I could write a book about that but don't pick up the pen. Even with pen in hand and paper at the ready, we must choose not just to want to write but to actually do the work. Deciding to do something isn't worth much until I get deep into it, preferably weeks and months in. Only then do I know I've really decided instead of just wishing it were so. Writing begins with the choosing.

After we've chosen writing, there's a long period of tension that can be difficult. We pull and push against the work which pulls and pushes back. The work goes well or disastrously without our understanding of how to engineer things so the good outweighs the bad. It feels difficult if not impossible. Many times it feels as if instead of God working together with us some demon keeps us from good writing.

This is when persistence and perhaps faith come into play. We come back to the page again and again. We keep going. And we hold onto faith both in the writing and in ourselves.

I'm still in this middle land, feeling those tensions, but I've had flashes, brief moments of the feeling that may become a realization at the very, very end. There are those moments when the work takes over and I dissolve before it. The words come to the page not out of thin air but through me, a nearly frictionless conduit. It's as if I'm pulled along by the words. Call it writer's high or God working through me. Whatever its name, I think of it as the work, my personal savior.

Letting go and accepting apply to writing as much to meditating. Creation is an act requiring more than just diligence and sweat. There must be a willingness to let something work through us and an acceptance that the most creative act may be deciding to get out of the way of something that just might be a miracle.