Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Treasure Hunting: There Is Such a Thing as a Pen

The ocean is a place of sanctuary for me. The power and the consistency. The scent and the sound. The rolling and falling of the waves. The ever changing moods and yet a character so utterly the same.
It is an oasis in the horizon beckoning quietly. I can hear it just on the periphery of my auditory perception even when I am not there. Last year I chronicled our vacation days in a series called An Ocean of Stories. We returned to within a mile and a half of where we were last year. There was no question I would chronicle this journey too—not if but how.
So, Friends, slip your feet in your flip-flops. Pull out your sunglasses. Get comfortable in your skin. Come walk the shore with me. You’ll need sunscreen and a bottle of water. I’d love to have your company. Bring your friends. For as long as it lasts. 

This past winter was hard.
It was a difficult season for me. The length. The cold. The dark. The gloom. My sanctuary is the coldest room in the house, so I gravitated to another room. The new room seemed too tight, too small. I lost my sacred sense of place.
I stopped journaling. I wrote, but there wasn’t nearly as much private dialogue. My journal lay forgotten. My pen lay unused. The longer the winter tarried the harder it was for me to focus. The beginning of May rolled in before I really felt winter was finished. It was the middle of May before I was convinced that its gnarled fingers had finally released us.
There were days I dreamed about the ocean and the light. And the space.
It didn’t help that summer started late for us here in the little white house. My husband, because of the missed days of school due to snow and water main breaks, did not get finished with school until June 11th.
My tomatoes started very late. I planted my begonias in my front flower beds far later than usual, and I didn’t get to buy my hanging porch ferns because the area stores sold out. I waited too long. Summer seemed like a slow guest coming.
Needless to say, I anticipated our upcoming vacation. Our seven days at the beach.
In some ways I felt like I was holding my breath.
Then suddenly I was packing.
I bought a new carrying case for my computer. One of the new-fangled form fitting cases, and I began unplugging my computer and getting it ready, pleased as punch that I was so up to date.
Little did I know.
My daughter, the youngest, looked at me and asked an odd question.
“Why are you taking your computer to the beach, Mom?”  Incredulity laced her voice. I stopped. The comment took me off guard. I attempted to answer, but somehow the words jumbled in my head. I stumbled over them.  
“Well, I may want to write while I’m there.” I stuttered. Suddenly I was uncomfortable. The explanation seemed wrong, and felt far more like an excuse. Like a justification.
Abby looked at me with this odd expression. And she opened her mouth and the words she spoke were unexpected.
There is such a thing as a pen.”
In my already uncomfortable state those words rubbed me wrong.
I walked out of the room.  
But the words wouldn’t go away.
I slid the computer into its new protective finery.
But my daughter's words bobbled in my head.
With Abby’s remark came a faint epiphany. A whisper. She was simply a messenger.
I went in search for my journal.
And my pen.
They were exactly where I left them: in the back room which used to be my sanctuary. My closet. My out-of-the-hub room. My Jesus mountain prayer place.
I opened my black, narrow-lined journal. I turned the pages to the last filled one—about halfway through the journal and dated over a year ago. I’m not completely sure of what caused the cessation of my journaling. There wasn’t a dwindling down—no skipping days. No sporadic entries. The writing just stopped. Period.
I packed the journal in my front seat bag.
I drove the first four hours of our trip. Then I crawled into the back seat and pulled out the journal.
The pen began to move across the page. My handwriting was rusty, but muscle memory is an amazing thing.  The words were shaky and jerky from the tumult of the car rolling over the interstate.
My journal page.
I had forgotten the feel of the pen on the page. Forgotten the indentations caused by the black ink pressed into the paper by the pressure of my hand and the rolling ball of my pen. I had forgotten what the words looked like sitting on the straight gray lines. Misspelled words and typos remained; there was no auto correct. The letters were not homogenized or uniform.
I kept writing.
Through Abby’s words the Holy Spirit beckoned me to return.

To return to the sacred place. To the Jesus mountain. To the closet. To the out-of-the-hub space.

Back to my place of retreat.
For me typing words on a screen document does not feel the same as a pen scratching on the journal page. In some ways I am sure this is akin to my aversion of tablets and Nooks and Kindles.

But, for whatever reason, the Spirit had sent a message.
Pick up your pen. Open up your journal.
And write.
As I leafed through my journal I realized what a treasure I held in my hands. NOT because of my writing or thoughts or ideas.
No, my journals are treasures because they chronicle and record the Father’s direct involvement in my life. They are black ink accounts of answered prayer. The handwritten scrawl of worship. My journals are narratives of seeking and finding. Of being hungry and satisfied. Of confusion and clarity. Of ebb and flow. Of the rise and fall of seasons. Of epiphanies and revelations.
They are the rough draft of my story.
In the writing I began to recover from the fallout and debris of the winter. My interior space opened up a fraction.
The purpose of this sojourn to the sea?
A treasure hunt to recover and discover.
A journey of reclamation.








Whitney James said...


Maureen Iles said...

You will never know how that resonated with me! Last year I did a lot of journalling but this year I have been taking a photograph a day and posting it on www.blipfoto.com/honeycombebeach and although I have enjoyed it, I have just felt there has been something missing - and I have so many beautiful pens - so I may be following you and using my pens again!

Thank you.


P.S. My username is Honeycombebeach so feel free to look at my photographs and journal.

Tamera said...


Certainly I will check out your spot! Please, please keep journaling. In whatever fashion the Spirit leads you to...it is a seasonal endeavor too. There has been a place for your photographs. You will need them. Our God always fills in what seems to be missing when we ask. Father, I pray you would help Maureen to pick up her pen...to fill blank pages with what you are doing, what you are transforming in her life. Give her voice. In the sweet name of Jesus. Amen.

Maureen Iles said...

Thank you so much for your message - I started today reading Living Waters by Brother Yun and did some journalling too - and I wrote a poem - so getting back into it - and thank you for your encouragement to do so.
Maureen x

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