We have college and high school children. Life right now is replete with two working teenage daughters who can't yet drive themselves to and from their part-time jobs. On the girls' portion of my to do list is to schedule job shadowing, senior pictures (a carryover from August), a few college visits, and scheduling driver's ed classes. The dog is overdue for vaccines, the car for an oil change, and the bushes for trimming. The new windows we installed last month still hang naked and exposed. It's November and I haven't baked Mike's September birthday cake. You're getting the picture, right? Life's symphony is at its crescendo.
It's no surprise that my quiet time (I hate that term and all others that inadequately describe living out my love relationship with God, which is seldom quiet time.) has devolved into merely another responsibility I am only partially fulfilling. This and many other things I typically find enjoyable have become weights that are pulling me under. Activities that I've long loved I now loathe and neglect. I find I'm ridding myself of them in an effort to manage it all. In so doing, I'm robbing my own life of joy in the name of surviving the climax otherwise know as middle-age.
Because something had to give, and I'm the grown up in this cacophony, I did what is expedient: I amputated joy and pleasure, thinking they were non-essential and expendable. They are not.
I'm working my way through Karen Dabaghian's A Travelogue of the Interior: Finding Your Voice and God's Heart in the Psalms.
The title captured me. My own interior (Oh yeah! I have one of those.) is on life support, threatening the need for yet another amputation. I was becoming "less me" with all the radical cuts. It's time to reclaim my full self, find my own voice, and again see God's heart, more good things I had cut myself off from.
But pondering my life's experiences to find their meaning, to better know God, andto allow the melding of the two to shape who I am and who I want to become? Well, that require time and quiet, commodities that are rare in this stage of life. This middle aged mom-wife-professional-lover of God-writer-homemaker-Sunday school teacher-caregiver to an aging mother needs a tour guide back to her interior. Desperately.
The writer in me loved the idea of a travelogue.
Travelogue: a movie, book, or illustrated lecture about the places visited and experiences encountered by a traveler.
Maybe I could actually start writing again. Maybe I'd uncover something worth knowing and saying.
I'm a third of the way through this book, and most of it is highlighted yellow. There are writing prompts sprinkled through the text, resting places in this journey I've yet to slow down to take advantage of. But I will on my second trip through this book, and I can't think of a single book I've read twice. It's that good.
Karen shares her own trip through the Psalms in the context of a class she took which required she write her own psalms. Her self-described bad poetry is creating a desire in me to write my own bad poetry.
She has an entire chapter called On Writing Bad Poetry, God love her. She shares some of her own poetic attempts at interacting with the themes of the Psalms the way the psalmists did — by wrestling with her own beliefs, experiences, what she knows of God through both relationship with him and his word, and what God might be saying to her right now.
Well, yes please. (I remember doing that. I've been here before. Ah, yes, of course. It's my own interior.)
Her psalms are short, concentrated writings that get right to the point. Short and concentrated would fit right nicely in my life these days, not to mention that this writer could use the discipline of getting right to the point. Are you even still reading?
Okay, so I'll get to the point. I think I might give poetry a shot. Yes, I said that out loud because I still can't believe I even had the idea, much less like it, or worse, want to attempt it.
I'm an English major, and I'm terrified of poetry. I don't think I know how. I don't even know what distinguishes good poetry from bad. It's a genre reserved for the literary elites. Writing my own feels intimidating, much like my naked and exposed, neglected, new windows.
I will use Karen's advice as my goal and standard. "The important thing is that you write what you really mean and that you labor to say something specific and not generic." Karen Dabaghian, A Travelogue of the Interior.
Taking on something new right now makes me want to throw up, but not taking this trip back to my interior will kill me. So surely it's worth an unfortunate encounter with the toilet bowl.
I may or may not share my psalms here because I may or may not be brave enough.
But I do want you to know for the sake of accountability. I am reclaiming me, the real me on the inside. I needed to say that out loud in the hearing of a witness or two for fear of not following through.
And if you can relate to any of this, I dare you to take an expedition back into your own interior. Psalm-writing is optional.