Words When There Aren’t Any

I slept an hour later than usual this morning, two hours later than the mornings when I get up to hit the gym at 5.  As a result I’m sitting here dead-headed, without much to say.  So I’m reading an article on whether or not we plagarize consciously or unconsciously, and does it matter?  Quite a few writers are arguing this morning about whether the economy is bouncing back or not, citing low August, back-to-school numbers as an ominous sign.  And how about yesterday’s 70th anniversary of the start of WWII?  At least one writer wonders why all the European commemorations of the event won’t go away, let the war fade into history.   Another article about a depressing poet (Louise Gluck) that makes me want to run buy her collection of poetry, and here’s one about why text-based communication is robbing Generation Y-ers of the subtle ability to read physical, real-time social clues that have nothing to do with words.

Click, click, click, links deliver information that has little to do with my day, except that all around us, the sweep of history mixes with the smaller concerns of us regular folk, and somehow, life unfolds.

And I blog sometimes about the meaning of life.

That’s funny.

I met with a friend yesterday afternoon, a writer/actor who’s been doing Biblical Story-telling for a long time, playing to various Christian audiences for over a decade.  He used to work with a partner, a real-live funny man, an archetypal sad clown who one day, after a morning set build and discussion of a weekend of upcoming shows, went home and ended his own life.  So now my friend works with a smattering of other partners, continuing to ply his trade with amazing energy.  His rate of production is astonishing; I felt lazy after we talked.  He’s now working on a show exploring his experience of losing his long-time friend and comedic partner, and we reflected together on what the show would reveal in terms of his own discovery.  Later, in the quiet, I wondered whether in fact he’s yet made the personal discovery he’s looking to reveal in the play.

Are there words to reveal such things?

Every morning, the newspapers and blogs reveal worlds of discovery, people reflecting on and selling their own versions of what they’re finding to be true about the world.  The sheer rate of creative output is staggering.  Yet another piece of evidence that “making” is at the heart of what it means to be human.

For me just now, it’s managing my calendar, picking two song-sets that might have some chance of being helpful to the folks who will gather in the church Sunday morning (most of them hoping that the new preacher will bring them some new touch of God), worrying that missing a scheduled visit to a friend who’s in rehab will be perceived as uncaring (when I simply can’t recall when I’m supposed to be there–my calls to the facility haven’t been returned).  And there’s a lead team meeting, a rehearsal for a play, and missing my work computer.

And finally, throughout the day my mind will wander to The Arthur Cycle (I’ve got five more plays to go), Hunting Grace (what am I going to do with the finished draft that sits in my closet?), Grant and Lee (got to get started in a big way), The Event of Some Importance (worried I’ll never get to it) , an as yet unwritten folk musical wherein my sharecropper Grandfather could have a musical conversation with his Broadway-bound great-grandchildren, and of course, the book I have to write before I die (faith and art and what’s the point?).

Life pushes forward, moments unfolding one at a time, like writers writing words even when none in particular want to appear.  Like the past half hour.

To discover something–anything–before my head hits the pillow…

2 Replies to “Words When There Aren’t Any”

  1. Your words, “As a result I’m sitting here dead-headed, without much to say.” brought to mind a poem I once wrote about the times I’m just plain tired of all the information overload. Those times sometimes make it difficult to know what or who to pray about at the end of the day. I hope you can relate.

    By R. D. Frazier

    Prayer comes slowly tonight.

    I have no words for the Almighty, but his own:
    “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”
    … then silence …

    His wordless presence permeates my soul
    … the stillness is full of Him.

    Minutes pass with no words, no conclusion
    … no amen.

    Only unanswered questions remain
    as His holy embrace assails consciousness
    … grace evident in sleep

    Reverently, I snore “amen!”

  2. Jeff, you remind me of Elijah after he killed the prophets of Baal and brought the rain after seven years of no rain. I believe God has used you mightily to turn the focus of Northwest to Jesus, where it belongs. I am also reminded of the 40th psalm. You are in good company.

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