I am beginning to know this pleasure as a writer. Part of building my nest has been a commitment to showing up to do the work of writing, day after day, week after week. Another part has been having a writing friend to encourage me on my journey. Third is my ongoing love affair with the words of other writers on writing, such as these:
As has become my habit, I spent a few moments in prayer at the start of one of my writing times earlier this week. In the stillness of my mind, a clear image emerged, a picture focus born from my offering of prayer. I saw an explosion of fireworks, and then there was a candle.
God, don’t let me be the fireworks, that wows for a moment. Let me be the candle that burns steadily, comfortingly, warmly. Let me be light that lasts.
It does feel these days that writing has become a candle inside of me. It just keeps burning with a low light, always there, flickering, shining light on my dark places, guiding me to new insights, helping me dig - and dig deep. To sit at my writing desk and do the work that is mine to do is to blow gently toward the candle to keep it lit. To sit at the desk is very rarely fireworks. Nothing I say matters very much to any other person, but it matters that I say it because it is mine to say.
I’ve noticed that another candle burns also in these days of my life. It is my desire to mother well. The longing is not going anywhere, and my small victories of connection with my kids are moments of sustained light, and still no fireworks.
I like July 4th and I like fireworks. But they are over so fast and are so loud. They demand attention, while a candle has an unassuming presence that one can sit with. One can warm to a candle. One can watch a candle and find peace and mystery in the little flame. One can count on a candle for hours. One can even light another candle from the first before it goes out.
It has been satisfying to hold this image in my mind since Monday. Natalie Goldberg said, in Writing Down the Bones, that “Writing is the act of burning through the fog in your mind.” I believe her because it feels like writing, and especially writing on motherhood in recent days, has continued to help me burn through the old to the new. I am the woodpecker building my nest, and it is good work.