The Chambered Nautilus
"Deep calls to deep..." Psalm 42:7
...uncurling and growing into the wonderful grace of God.
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
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
“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
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
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.
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.