Focusing Wonder, Narrowing Mystery

Help me out here.

The project?  Focusing my blogging, narrowing my subject matter.   Answering the question: what is all this blogging about?  I mean the blogging in the jeffberryman.com world.   If you’ve been reading my work for awhile, tell me what you think I’m up to. It’s not that I don’t know…exactly–after all, I am putting words down for some reason.   My mind wanders and wonders.  I’m not trying to convince a reader of anything, obviously.   Or am I?  I watch my senses and my minds (funny expression, that–minds.  What I mean is my conscious mind and unconscious mind working together) encountering beauty and truth and tensions and questions and all manner of divine break-ins as I make my way through a day, then I stand in this space and mostly point, saying, “Do you see that?”

My lovely wife, enjoying her birthday on the couch across from me, just read me the news that 90 people died in Joplin, Missouri from a tornado.   As a writer in the middle of a blog post, I’m completely undone.   Terrible tragedy, ridiculous pain in that town, unplanned for, unexpected, devastating.   We sit in stupor at such news.  Response is called for.   But we’ll be driving to Enumclaw in a couple of hours for birthday lunch.  There’s work to do.   My son leaves for New York tomorrow.   I have a play to write, and the call on my life must be answered.    So must yours.   So, we’ll pray, and talk about it, and do the work we have to do, and the stupor will dissipate.

Maybe it shouldn’t.

Truth is, not that many folks read all this.   There are nearly 390,000 blogs on WordPress alone.  That alone is worth a decent blog post.  Focus is the key to readership, they say.   Widget creation, production, and distribution is the idea–just pick the widget you are passionate about.

Well, my widget is “the nature of things.”   Hard to focus.  Go figure.

Christ is certainly at the heart of things, as is the story we find ourselves in.  The human experience is central, as is our Imago Dei identity, but there’s also the infinite specifics of how our image-of-God-ness works itself out in flesh and blood.  Beauty, transcendence, and art-making are the big frames through which I see.  Poetry has made a late run at my heart, and I know that if I write about the current all-the-rage film or TV series, the hits on the site will go up.   Psychology, theatre (and all its companion subjects: acting, directing, presence, etc.), theology are subjects.  And then there’s that family of mine, the one that keeps popping into my consciousness constantly.  Much of what I write about, I’ve learned at their feet.

Stream of consciousness writing?  Maybe that’s it.  But who needs or wants the unbroken string of stuff that runs through anyone’s mind, much less mine?

But much of what I talk to people about is that somewhere out there is someone who cares about your need and desire to be known.  Perhaps it’s just God, but I figure He’s sitting here with me in some way, leaning in, watching the words pop up, knowing full well what’s going on already, but still…He’s there, and He’s interested, even in the funny little debate I always have in my head when I come across his name or pronoun.  Do I capitalize or not?   I don’t think He really minds, either way.

Staring at the world, slack-jawed, trying to hammer out a sentence or a play or a novel or a sermon or a song or a glance that just might pull back–just a hair–that curtain of wonder and mystery we’re shrouded in.   Discovering everyday that grace is a constant rain, that there are worlds we’ve been entrusted with to care for and create, and that such work is best done in the company of an ever-widening circle of traveling companions and friends.

So much for focus.

I’ll just keep getting out of bed, looking out the window, and telling the few about the beauty and nuttiness out there.

All the while, glad my wife was born…

2 Comments

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  1. The beauty in what you do is in the randomness. Not random in an awkward, what are we doing here, why are you talking about that, kind of way, but in the natural skipping of your conscious/subconscious to the details that matter to you.

    Sometimes people may write blogs to be heard, or to feel important, or for a million other reasons. But really, writing a blog should be for you. Working out your thoughts and feelings by putting them down in a tangible way. You have people that read, because there are people who know and love you who are fascinated by the way your mind works. Is that enough? Does it matter if you have a large readership? Do you want more “hits”. If you do, then why? The answer to that question is very important.

    Focus is over-rated. Creativity abounds in the random. To bring a specific focus to your work, more than what you already have, would in a way reduce its beauty.

  2. Happy birthday, Angie. You are one of my heroines. Jenny, I loved your response, but I have a slightly different viewpoint. Jeff, you mentioned keeping focused on Jesus. The cardinal rule in tennis is to keep your eye on the ball. The better I do it, the more I realize how unfocused I have been in the past. One thing I’ve learned, or thought of, just today. If I keep my focus on the ball, I am better able to put the ball where I want it to go. Speed and placement improve as I focus on that ball. Sometimes the best I can do is duck.

    If I keep my eyes on Jesus, will my armor be more effective? Will I be able to dodge Satan’s darts? Will I see Him in truthful words and glowing faces? Will I see him in suffering? Will I be able to wield the sword of the Spirit? Will I see Him in the tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes? Will I see him in the death of Osama bin Laden? Paul said, “In Him, all things hold together.” Even random acts of kindness have purpose! Your blogs challenge me to think! Thank you, and God bless!

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