Re-entering the Field
So S has been sorta pulled into the mad world of bromeliad mania, and somehow she and I have agreed to work together on a research project (probably a slim volume consisting of a few articles) on the garden and the city. She’ll be jumping into it immediately after finishing her Masters thesis, and I’m attempting to get my academic gears back into motion after eight years of disuse.
I’ve not felt so excited about a project for a long time, not even when I was actively writing for and editing a now-defunct e-zine (we closed it down because the organisation it was for had shifted in direction and focus). Sure, there’s been some high points with other things like songwriting, vocal recording, and dance… but while I do have a bit of talent in those areas it’s probably nothing close to what I can do with the written word when I’m at the top of my game.
The childhood dream is no longer what it was, however. I don’t have the same misguided ideas about the sort of writing I am good at, or where my true giftings lie.
When I was a child, all I knew was that I wanted to write. And I wrote – badly.
It wasn’t that I had no skill with language or self-expression. It was bad because I was attempting to write fiction, just because I loved reading fiction. It started because someone mentioned that one should write the sort of books that one wanted to read. And it continued being bad because I lapped up advice from various sources that urged aspiring writers to just keep trying, to imitate your idols, to employ all sorts of writing stimuli and idea-spawning tools, to just ensure that you wrote something on a regular basis no matter how disjointed or bad it was.
I went through a few other phases in which I unconsciously explored and practised various genres, types of writing, and developed a personal voice and style. For the past handful of years, however, you might say I’ve produced nothing.
The recent years of non-inspiration and half-baked writing attempts haven’t been useless, however, though the world might see it that way. I’ve noticed another pattern in my life that my eyes hadn’t been open to until today, and I’m amazed at how the Lord has directed my steps even though I have been completely oblivious. The discouragement I felt at not having written anything for a long time, and the resulting “killing” of my dream in surrender (or resignation?) was real, but the time of renewal is here. I know it. I can feel it.
Since this is mainly a plant-related blog – yes, I do intend for it to keep that focus somehow – I’ll make it a bit plainer: “Unproductive” stretches in our lives, if not caused by laziness or inertia, are very likely fallow periods. Afterwards, with proper ploughing (keep studying the Word and praying!), sunshine and rain, seedtime and harvest come back into play. When we allow our lives and our gifts to “flow with the unforced rhythms of grace”, to quote a certain JP, God’s pattern and plan for our lives becomes clearer.
So thank you, S, for being a catalyst. God’s used you to bless me much more than you might realise – your simple invitation to tea/coffee might just prove to be one of the most important turning points in my writing career. I hope whatever I deposit into your spirit is as valuable as what you’ve set fire to in mine.
Exodus 23: 10-12 (NKJV)
10“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. 12Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.
Proverbs 13:23 (NKJV)
Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste.
John 12:24 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
Jeremiah 4:3 (NKJV)
For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, “Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns.”
Hosea 10:12 (NKJV)
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.