Monday, April 02, 2007

A Well and The Word


Ever since I've been going to my Secret Place each day, I've been freewriting about it afterwards. Freewriting is one of those tasks that every good writing book emphasizes.

V.H. Wright's The Soul Tells a Story considers freewriting to be a well-dredging activity— the "well" being that secret place inside us that contains all manner of thoughts and passions, memories and dreams, that we are rarely aware of in conscious life.

I like how Wright comforts the soul who gets out a bucket and sends it down with a splash...

"If you are mastering your craft, then you won't need to panic when all manner of strange stuff comes up out of your well. You know that as time goes by your skill will take hold of all that stuff and make something out of it." (p.129)

Here's what came out of my well the other day, after I sat in my "woods" and read Psalm 15, which says, Keep your word, even when it costs you. It is just unpolished freewriting, but I wanted to share it. I'm also going to take Wright's advice and put a hold on the panic.

The air is cool. I'm in shadow. Though the sun is up, it is not yet shining into these "woods." Daffodils poke through frost-bitten ivy and a lattice-work of pine needles. One green spike has the suggestion of a yellow promise behind a skin-like veil. The forsythia bend, dangling tear-drop earrings, flashing tinkling green-swelled jewels.

Wood-winged bushes are green-tipped candelabras, the promise of spring's light in this shadowy corridor. The stalks of the bush are torches, bleeding green from the core. If I hold them, will I be stained green? Will I leave this place with green stripes on my hands?

Somewhere, the muted gunshot of a woodpecker sounds and echoes. Or, it is a snare drum from the trunk of some tree? Wood-winged bud tips are fleur de lis or the bud-tip of a king's scepter. Through the fence, a patch of snowdrops bows delicate faces— for the coming of a king? Above me, a rustle and a leaf falling down. A furry Zaccheus perhaps, up in the tree, come to hear a king's words. The sun is now pouring lightly into the wood-winged bushes which are casting shadows on the pine.

I read Psalm 15, "Keep your word, even when it costs you," and it strikes me that the explosion of these buds, this drumroll of life, is yet again the keeping of God's first words, "Let there be light." I remember, suddenly, that we are in the Lenten season, and this too is the harbinger of a Light bleeding green, bleeding the cost of a promise, of a word spoken so long ago... "Let there be light."

A raucous band of five white birds with grey tails has come to watch The King walk his road towards his word. In the haven of the maple, they settle into a low "chr-chr-chr-chr." It is the "oh, my" of the crowd above the procession... and the ladies with their green teardrop earrings sit motionless... and wait.

Through the Chainlink Fence photo, by L.L. Barkat

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Blogger Jenn said...

Wow. That's amazing. Your blog is continually inspiring.

6:31 PM  
Blogger A Musing Mom said...

What wonderful images. It opened my eyes to the familiar story in a fresh way. Jenn already said it, but I have to echo: wow.

Okay, I'm pulling out Wright's book today and reading it in earnest.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Beautiful, evocative writing. I love how it helps us see in creation God and his work related to new creation (Zacchaeus up in the trees, wow, etc). We need sanctified imagination like that because God certainly is imaginative (from our perspective) in his works. Thanks, L.L. for sharing that. I look forward to more of your writing and the book to come soon, hopefully.

2:12 AM  
Blogger andre said...


Wonderful writing. Thanks for using your gift for our edification

7:37 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Thanks for this peek into your soul. I too have often thought about how difficult it was for God to utter those first words knowing where it would lead. I like your interface of creation and the cross.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Betsy Lin said...

Hey Yeah- Thomas Merton- Ive been tring to track down some of his books...
And yes...that is one of my photos....i dream of being a photographer...but mainly its just a hobby!

12:29 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

That was fun; you are such a breath of fresh air.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

AGHHH. Lost my comment.

I agree with ted, though. That is a wonderful image about the "furry Zaccheus ... up in the tree, come to hear a king's words."

The poet in me is dying to see you put this in lines. The editor in me would love to play around with this as the draft of a poem...

2:02 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jenn... thanks. I think freewriting is a great idea and am so glad I finally found a built-in way to get it done.

A Musing... Wright's book has given me so much, both the first and second time around. I hope you enjoy it. I plan to read it once a year, kind of as an anniversary thing (I got it at Calvin when I first met the IVP people).

Ted... thank you. This is one of my favorite ways to write. I really have no idea when my book will be out. One of the things I had to deal with was too much evocative writing! And, yes, I love to consider that when I let my imagination run wild I am touching something of the deep creativity of God.

Andre... thanks... it's fun to have a community of people to share it with. Not having a writer's group, it feels good to have this outlet.

Heather.... I didn't even think of that... the pain and the wonder of those first words... like a woman who conceives knowing the eventuality of labor and a lifetime of commitment thereafter.

Betsy... I hope you find somewhere to use your photography professionally. It's lovely. Merton is in every library, I think, since he's a classic at this point.

Craver... what a whimsical comment and gentle on the heart over here.

Mark.... yes, I thought it seemed like grist for a poem. Maybe I will fool with it. But the poet and editor in you are welcome to fool with it too... kind of a team effort at poetry?

2:49 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I found Mark's comment. (Yea!)

It must have blown off his desk, and on to the floor, and somebody tracked it over to me. Sure... from Texas to Illinios.

Then somebody spilled root beer all over it. It's gone forever now. (Awww.)

3:38 PM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Craver, you make me laugh.

L.L., I'm finishing up a book chapter for a friend, then I'm on it! (If I forget--because I do forget things--email me, right? Cuz I really want to collaborate like this.)

10:44 AM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

That's beautiful. . . I am amazed (and slightly guilty) at how full you are of the Lenten and Easter spirit, that you see the expecation of His coming in everything around you.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

LL, just got back from camping out in the woods for a couple days-no plants growing here yet.

Thanks for echoing the peaceful euphoria of being in God's presence with His art work.

3:05 PM  
Blogger S.Hunt said...


I enjoyed your free writing. I love the reference to a Zacchaeus in the trees... You've describe your surroundings colorfully and have painted a beautiful picture with your words of new life coming forth.

11:07 PM  

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