Updated: Apr 7, 2020
I am trying to learn to write. Of course, it is a lot like trying to learn to pray, you must just do it. Write. Pray. Get to it. Start. The blank paper stares back at you in a sort of mocking way…it whispers loudly, “What do you think YOU have to say???” Or at least that’s how it often goes for me. And much like praying, it’s important to just start talking...to God, or on paper...as the case may be.
I need occasional breaks from facing the blank noisy paper. So, I started reading a book about writing. Much better! “Bird by Bird…Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” I love reading, and I love Anne Lamott! She is much more fun than learning to write by writing. Her voice helps me. She is funny and sarcastic and a self-proclaimed mess. What’s not to love. As I was reading, I came to a part where she inserted a “random” discussion about life. And then she said, “You are not going to be able to give us the plans to the submarine. Life is not a submarine. There are no plans.” This statement caused a long pause. I then had to stop reading and start writing. Perfect!
You see, I want life to have plans. My life had a lot of plans up until a few weeks ago. And I want to write about submarines and give people the plans to the submarine. But as Ms. Lamott so rightly says, life is not a submarine. As a matter of fact, life is feeling particularly hard to build right now. I have a tendency now to need a break from life and pandemic news and death and uncertainty...so I withdraw...either into social media, or acres of yard work to be done.
It’s raining, so I chose Instagram. I then came across this quote, “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given an opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” This is Sonya Renee Taylor via Carlos A. Rodriguez. He rocks my boat, and I’m thankful to be introduced to her. She has now also rocked my already rocking boat.
And she’s right. All of this is so exactly right, in my opinion...and her reference to a new garment, yes. If we really take advantage of this pause, and examine ourselves...and our systems...what do we find? She’s right.
And so I am choosing those descriptions that fit me in what she says, and those that fit the systems I support, and I am asking God to show me the new path, the new garment, the new me that it will take to fight for change. Yes, it feels like it’s going to be a fight. It is a fight. I do know enough to know that. Near the end of his life, Paul said, in the Bible, that he had fought the good fight and finished the course. I want that. I think sometimes though that I’m not sure how to fight and who I’m fighting exactly, and I have a tendency to get tired. And so, it seems to me that right now is a really good time to train. And watch for opportunities to stitch this new garment.
Here is how I’m training...maybe you would like to join me. I have enrolled in Austin Channing Brown's Academy--great content and video and interviews: http://austinchanning.com/acbacademy. I’m learning about antiracism and history and how much I don't know. I’m listening to new voices more and more...like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sarah Bessey, Carlos Rodriguez, Jemar Tisby, John Mark Comer who says to stop hurrying, Brenda Salter McNeil and Latasha Morrison who is teaching me about building and to Be The Bridge through her Facebook page. I’m learning how to learn on Twitter...rabbit trails, yes, and some hard to see stuff...but much of it is outside of my world. And if I’m going to stitch a new garment, I need to broaden, shift, change myself and my world.
I recognize that I cannot write and give you the plans to the submarine...not this life submarine. I know and am certain about less and less, in many ways, the older I get. I can, however, invite you to join me in this adventure. Let’s deep dive and learn. Let’s grow. Let’s not think we know everything from our very limited vantage point. Let’s do justice. Let’s love kindness. And let’s learn together to walk humbly with our God. It feels like a hard time to pursue new things, I get that. Everything is hard and exhausting right now. But, with some grit, and perhaps choosing just a little bit each day, we can at the very least stop and think. We can evaluate and shift. We can become new people. We can stitch this new cloth, while we have an opportunity to do so. Dear friends, we need a new normal.