This womb of mine will not know the pangs of pregnancy. My skin will not tighten when another body becomes part of my flesh. My inner organs will not shift to make room; my ankles will not swell; my appetite will not increase because my body is making another person.
This womb is empty, creased. That potential has been offered upon an altar, a sacrifice. “I vow to God Almighty to live consecrated celibacy for the rest of my life and into the next,” I once proclaimed in front of my Franciscan sisters, family and friends, surrounded by statues of saints, standing firm. I have vowed to keep this womb empty so that I can live a life of boundless love, devoted service and deep prayer
How do you pray?
Do you pray with hands folded?
Do you air out your words on the line? Do you clip them down one by one, and then let them dance in the breeze until they are fresh, light? . . .
Writing this essay and going through the process of getting it published has been an adventure many years in the making.
As one who had childhood dreams of becoming a writer — but had at one point given up on my dreams — I am totally thrilled. I am in awe. And, I am very, very thankful.
This accomplishment is not my own, it is not success because of my own doing. Rather, this an achievement of an entire community.
In last week’s blog post I said I was going to share a bit about the adventures in writing I’ve had within the past year.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth. – John 1:14
One of the major gifts of 2013 was the fruit that came from living a life in union with the Word of God. Specifically, I found that I still gain a lot of energy and joy as I try to be a writer. First of all, my sporadic habit of blogging on continues here at Messy Jesus Business.
In the past year, Invitations to write for other publications starting coming too, including one by the Franciscan Spirituality Center Blog for which I once wrote about “Christmas Every Day.” I was really excited to learn that I had earned a scholarship to a writers workshop that I was blessed to attend the last week of July and first few days of August.
Plus, my community invited me to try something really creative: be a Poetry Catcher at our assembly in June. I had the task of mirroring back my observations to the 300 or so sisters and affiliates there through poetry. At one point I was asked to write a poem WHILE I listened and then immediately perform the poem for the crowd. I was in awe right with everyone else by what came out of me.
That’s often how I feel about the creative work of writing: amazed by the gift God gives. The gifts related to the work of writing have been abundant this year. At the writers workshop I was incredibly enriched by new relationships and encouragement from other Christian artists, insights about how to grow as a poet and writer, and lessons on poetry and the creative life in general. In addition to the essay in America magazine this week, I also had a poem published in an online literary journal within the past month.
Like I said, my accomplishments and success are not my own. Certainly none of this exciting success would have come without the encouragement, help and support of great editors, my Franciscan sisters, and many other friends— all of who are deserving of a big shout-out and THANKS!
But, most importantly, I am very certain I would have never become a writer and a poet without my relationships with my Franciscan sisters.
Even though I dreamed of being a writer and a teacher when I was a child, I quickly gave up on my dream of becoming a writer because I did not have much confidence. In school, I was pretty much an average student — especially in English class, where I came to realize I had a lower vocabulary than most and grammar rules confused me. Although I had excellent English teachers, none of them ever gave me any extra encouragement so I gave up on my dream of being a writer before I even started college.
God is a God of surprises and abundant blessings. And, many of those blessings come through community.
Within a couple of years of entering my community, several of the sisters I was growing close to were getting to know that I enjoyed writing poetry and prose. So then, when an opportunity to write for a blog came my way, sisters encouraged me to take it.
Then, over 3 years ago a Sister encouraged me to start a whole other blog. I prayed a lot about it, and that’s how Messy Jesus Business was born. This is a risk I would have never taken without the help and support of community. Likewise, the blog wouldn’t continue to have a vibrant life without the readership and follower-ship from all of you. Thank you!!
Similarly, sisters encouraged me in my poetry too. I was stunned when I started to hear from some of them that I had talent. As invitations to share my poetry started coming from sisters, I grew more overwhelmed by the praise I would receive, especially when I felt so clueless about the craft.
Only within the past year have I gained an acceptance of the gift, due to the blessings coming from my community. Because of my sisters, I am willing to say I am a poet and a writer now. And, I feel like many of my other dreams related to writing are possible. Maybe I’ll actually get to write books one day!
I shed tears when I think of it: I am who I am today because of how I have been made by many. My community has empowered me and enlivened me and helped me be a steward to the gifts God has given. I am officially a published writer now, by the blessing of my community. God is so good, and I am thankful!