About 20 years ago, in Williamsburg, Virginia, we used to sing this in church, “At the end of broken dreams, an open door.”
I sung it because I liked the lyricism, but I had no interest in the open door at the end of broken dreams because then the dreams would have to be broken, right?
* * *
Well, well, well…
My daughters, choosing their own paths, ask me what my goals were when I was their age. I confess–with a wry smile–that my life barely resembles the dreams I had at 21.
Well, hello there, “failure.” Except the word has lost its sting. Sadness has given way to a shrug.
My life hasn’t worked out as I wanted…more dreaming than writing….though I perhaps have some good decades ahead of me.
And had a career worked out as I had wished, there would have been a lot more stress, busyness, pointless work, self-promotion, and exhaustion, and I would have reached middle age substantially more tired. And in worse health!
* * *
The dreams of 20-30 years ago are not entirely “broken,” though they have morphed.
I wanted to write as beautifully as the writers I then idolised…Salman Rushdie, Vladimir Nabokov, Toni Morrison, Annie Dillard, Laurie Lee; to write with that beautiful texture, almost music. Yeah, I’d still like to.
However, that kind of writing comes out of immersion in literature, and the way life has happened…I haven’t read enough.
I took four years out of reading and writing to establish a business. At the end of that four years, I faced my broken dreams. My fingers had got stiff. My writing felt like the flightless cormorant of the Galapagos– bland, music-less, poetry-less compared to what it had been just four years ago. The instinct had gone dormant. That intricate lace-like writing which had once won me a National Endowment of the Arts award of $20,000– I couldn’t do it any more. I had lost the knack.
Once the business no longer needed my involvement for my husband is now running it, I wondered what I was going to do, how I was going to wriggle back to writing.
And I did perhaps the only thing I really know how to do… I prayed.
* * *
And, four months in limbo, I heard God suggest blogging…
That sounds like a grand way of putting it, but it’s the only accurate way!
My readers when I started were my Facebook friends…but slowly through the miracle of Google and the web and social sharing, they grew. About 10,000 people read my blogs each month, unique monthly visitors Google calls them.
And, ironically, my blogs may touch more people’s hearts, spirits and lives than the exquisite, artful writing I wanted to create. They may influence people for good on a daily basis. May help shape the way people think and perceive; help shape spirits. Blogging has been an unexpected adventure, and an unexpected gift!
* * *
I want to write beautifully, of course I do, and I will keep trying to write well until I die. Keep practising.
But what I am primarily aiming for in blogging is not a lace-maker’s artistry.
I think instead of a leaf, a kite, a raptor, catching the wings of the wind, flying high and higher as the wind lifts it.
I think of recording what God whispers to my heart.
* * *
I am trying to write–if it’s not too grand a word–“prophetically.” I try to hear what God is saying to me, and write it down. Record what I am struggling with…and the answers I have discovered. Answers which may perhaps help someone else up to the next step of the ladder.
And that’s more satisfying, healing, and enriching for my mind, heart, soul, and body than writing the beautiful literary books I wanted to.
Blogging…the open door at the end of broken dreams.
Will I ever write the books I wanted to? I believe so, though they will be different, more products of Spirit than of blood, sweat, toil and tears.
And that’s all to the good, isn’t it?
* * *
Anyway, it’s become second nature now, when I face the rubble of broken dreams, things not turning out as I had expected, to ask, “So what’s the plot, Lord? Where’s the open door in this rubble? Show me the road I am to take.”
This world whispers of infinity. Pi has been computed to 10 trillion digits. 10 trillion of an infinite number of digits? Is that success or failure? It’s interwoven. There’s some failure in our bright successes, and our failures have ironic gains and golden lessons.
* * *
There are no dead ends. The door which seems closed whispers of windows.
And that window swings open….and you see the stars.