Birthing a Dream | Part 1 of 2

by Elouise

God must be laughing right now.  Not at me, but with me.  It finally happened.

I’d been searching for my ‘today’ dream for a several weeks.  To no avail.  Then I found it—right under my nose!

Am I chagrined?  No.  I’m ecstatic!  I learned something about myself.  This dream has been growing in me for at least 15 years.  Maybe that’s what carried me through the last demanding years of my professional life.

One week ago – 19 October 2014
I’m in the middle of writing a poem.  I know what I want to convey.  I just can’t find a way through the gloom and doom that’s descending.

I thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and something he said near the end of his life.  He looked back at all the words he had written and pronounced his assessment:  Straw.  Nothing but straw.  A pile of insubstantial stuff to be burned in the fire.  Not gold or silver or diamonds or even useful thoughts.  Just straw.

Something like that had its grip on me.  I was already at my computer so I just kept writing. . .

Dear God,
Today I’m feeling kickback
The weight of voices and movements in me
that don’t want to go on with this blog.
A bit of self-pity, too.
Desire to be like other bloggers.
Desire to have a different life so I can tell a different story.

But I can’t!
This is what You allowed in my life.
I can’t say You gave it to me.
I don’t want to believe that.
But I can say You allowed it and what happened was real. . . .

[Missing right here, on purpose:  two pages of truth laced with self-pity]

. . . .I think the fire is hot right now.
Do I need this??????  Old Soul, do I???????
Can anything good come of this eruption in me?
These floods that want to overcome me?
These earthquakes that de-center me?

If there’s good in this,
It’s that I want to become the best writer I can be.
I know I’m not there yet.
Is this part of getting there?
When will we be there?
I just want a sign.
I don’t need to know everything.

* * * * *

I put away my outpouring without reading it.   Hours later, after a lovely long walk and supper, I read it.  I was astonished.  Near the end of the piece I found these words:

I want to become the best writer I can be.

I was so excited I could hardly contain myself!  This isn’t just a happy coincidence.  It fits.  It’s my dream!

In September 2001 I wrote my first ever personal mission statement.  It was a requirement for each member of the seminary’s leadership team.  Here it is:

I participate in the mission of God

  • By discovering and telling the truth about my life to God, to myself and others; and
  • By inviting women, children, young people and men into the same process.

When I reviewed the document several days ago, I found it included a 4-paragraph vision statement.  I’d forgotten all about that part.  When I read it I felt a bit embarrassed, even chagrined.  It sounded like a fairy tale.  Or worse, a braggart!  Too good to be true.

The vision statement has four paragraphs, covering four areas of my life:  personal writing, seminary work, church involvement, and self-care including family life.  As instructed, I wrote it five years out, as though it were now 2006 instead of 2001.   Here it is:

Today I sent the final draft of my third book to a major publisher.  Last week I signed a contract for a fourth book.  Spanish and French translations of my first two books (already published) will be completed this month.  I contribute regularly to several Christian and secular periodicals—brief theological reflection pieces based on person meditation on Scripture and on my life.

The Irony , the Reality and the Bottom Line
The Irony:  Between September 2001 and September 2006 I wrote hundreds of pages on behalf of the seminary.  Some were beautiful, even moving.  My files are loaded with evidence that I’m an experienced writer.

The reality:  None of this writing was for me.  My name was usually attached somewhere, but this writing rarely made it into print as something I had generated in my voice and for my own purposes.

Bottom line:  I was nearly always writing for someone else during the best hours of my days.  And evenings.  Sometimes weekends.

True, I kept a dream journal, private journals, and a growing set of weekly writings that captured how I was dealing with administrative work.  But none of it was the kind of writing my vision has in mind.

Rather, it was free writing that allowed me to express myself privately.  Sorely needed and rewarding.   It helped clarify my emotions and thinking.  It did not, however, help me get my voice out there in public telling the truth about myself, God or any of that.  It was more like downloading whatever had accumulated during the week.  Some of it good; much of it not so happy reading.  Starvation rations.

I enjoyed having the power of the pen when it came to work-related reports and proposals.  However, I deeply resented not having time or space to continue personal writing projects already begun in 2001.

This is one of my regrets–not that someone didn’t wave a magic wand for me, but that I didn’t know how to speak out on behalf of myself.   Sometimes, when absolutely necessary, I could do that about my physical health and well-being.  I didn’t know how to do that when it came to my personal writing projects.

Thankfully, this isn’t the end of my story.  Yet for me, it underscores the high cost of growing up without a dream for my life, without the ability to make wise decisions to move me along toward my dream, and without the ability to say, “No, I will not do that for you.”

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2014