Thomas Merton said (and I’m paraphrasing without my source in front of me) to write for yourself is in the end, sickening. To write for others is more noble, but the only way to speak to many, truthfully and well, is to write for God.
There’s lots to write about. Man of La Mancha opens this Friday at Taproot Theatre, and I continue to tilt with the windmills involved in playing Cervantes/Quixote. It’s both thrilling and invigorating, and will no doubt–from my point of view–be a highlight of my acting work of recent years. At the same time, it’s scary, thought-provoking, even indicting as I work to fill these words, these moments, and these songs. Impossible dreams, indeed.
The work at the Northwest Church, from a paid staff point of view, is drawing to an end. This past Sunday, Chris Goldman announced that as of January 1st, 2011, I will be resigning my part-time post as Real Encounter Catalyst Leader and Worship Leader. Lots of implications to this, but to reflect on my work of the past three years at Northwest is humbling, satisfying, and disappointing all at once. One day I will write this experience in ways that I hope will honor the people who have allowed me to serve among them. Whether it’s a piece of fiction or non-fiction remains to be seen, but I have my ideas.
On the family side, my daughter Amy is now firmly ensconced in New York City, living on the Upper West Side, suffering from the heat wave currently hitting the country. Working hard at the business of living and acting, she seems resolute and happy to be doing what she’s doing, and I couldn’t be more proud. My son Daniel is home for the summer after a bit of opera exploration in Italy, and is currently preparing to appear in a new musical at the end of August. Our conversations often run into the night, and between the two of us, we may figure life out yet. And my sweet wife continues to shore me up as she soldiers lovingly on with the business of living with her own version of the crazed and faulty knight.
“Look always forward. In last year’s nest, there are no birds this year.” So says Don Quixote as he stands vigil the night before his dubbing. I thought about it, and tore out the carpet in my office revealing a beautiful, but somewhat beat-up, hardwood floor. I repainted the walls a rich version of my favorite yellow (I could write about why yellow has become my favorite in the past couple of years), and am in the middle of building a new nest from which I hope powerful new work emerges.
The point is, there’s lots to write about. How about the spill in the gulf? The World Cup? The upcoming elections and the projected make-up of the next Congress? What it means to befriend the poor? What art demands and why? Why the Bible continues to demand a fidelity so many young people just can’t seem to muster up? The discipline of putting words on the page no matter what? The efficacy of prayer? The design of the human for faith? The means by which we pick and keep and cultivate friends? The nature of seeds and the ongoing explosion of new life in the world? The stripping of language into the mundane and the trivial?
Summer has arrived in Seattle. A new play opens, temperatures soar, light bounces off the wooden tables at the coffee shop, silhouetting the woman rearranging her purse, her coffee cups, and who knows, perhaps her life. Another woman hustles in for her latte, apologizing for her lack of shoes. A gray-haired man takes a table near the front as upbeat chatter mixes with the early morning jazz. I’m in the back, in the corner, feeling much better now that we’ve talked, reader, you and me.
Do we write for God? Do we live for Him, to discover Him, to reveal Him, to experience Him? Daniel and I have conversations about the experience of God and what it means to sing for Him, to create for Him, to live the entire human enterprise on His behalf. Do we, as Paul enjoined, do whatever we do for the glory of God? And if we say we do, what do we mean?
To write for God is no doubt many things, but it is at least to be present, to speak truth, to listen, to persuade, to reflect, and to work. To bear witness. There are times I’m afraid to bear witness to life as I see it, yet that is the job. Being faithful is nothing less than showing up for the day’s work.
Today, God help me, I will bear witness…