If you've read many of these posts, you've probably seen me whining about wanting to be a writer more than once. That's the thing that keeps nagging at my soul-- I want to write. Oh yes, I love being a pastor. But my soul seems to need to write.
I've been reading through Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" again, and attempting (again) to work my way through "The Artist's Way". Lamotte reminded me about the joy (and need to write) short assignments. The same week, Cameron challenged me to make time to write by sending out a few handwritten thank you notes or other pieces of correspondance. Two hints in a week was enough to get my brain rolling. Well, that, and I've been actively looking for ways to use my unique gifts as a female pastor to bring fruitfulness to my ministry.
So it dawned on me (finally) that somehow, all these things are working together. And I've been writing notes, lots and lots of notes throughout the last month. I've sent thank you cards to parishioners who have done something above and beyond around the church. I've hand-drawn birthday cards and other things. I've carefully done calligraphy of applicable bible verses on the fronts of cards to say "I'm praying for you." I've sent cards to people in whose eyes I can do no wrong, just because they make me smile. And I've sent cards to people who pray that I'll leave the church soon, because they are both against me as a female pastor and as a person. I've sent cards as attempts at peacemaking, as a way of recognizing someone's contribution to our life together, as mobile prayers. There is something about receiving a note that perks up your day-- just knowing a person took the time to think of you, write something down, and then hunt down your address and a stamp means a lot.
And strangely, every time I write a thank-you note (even for something small) I find that my own gratefulness has increased. As I send a "praying for you" card, I am the one that is blessed. As I wish someone a Happy Birthday, my own day is happier. And I find that my soul is fed because I am writing, because I am being creative (which is something for someone who used to do tons of drawing and art, but hasn't in years.)
Of course, email is easier. But there's still an awful lot to be said about finding a hand penned note in your mailbox. Today, I'll trade convenience for tending souls...mine, and theirs.
"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.