I was reading a blog earlier today. It is written by a woman who is married and has two small children. She writes very well about what goes through her mind and heart. She writes about God, her neighborhood, her job, her family. She is faithful to making daily entries. It is interesting to see her thoughts move from one place to another. Her words – and the wonderful way she uses them – opens door after door to a life of a person I will never meet “in person.” But I find that I think of her, how she is doing on a given day, hoping that she is well.
She is generous with her perceptions. I like her use of detail – she has a “soft lens” she brings to bear on life. That is perhaps another way of saying she is soft hearted. She loves her husband, they have a dog, she worries about her mom, loves her children, she is anxious about the war and the deaths of so many young people. As I was reading her entries, it struck me how interested I was in an ordinary life on an ordinary street in an ordinary town. How is it that words have such a power to entice us to want to know more, to keep reading, to further explore where they lead us? I am reminded of something I read earlier today, from an entry in one of Diane Arbus’s journals, where she wrote something about Chinese wisdom – how something may at first seem very boring or even banal (like ordinary life) but stay with it a while and the mystery of the “there” begins to reveal itself. Any life is interesting. The use of words is a key to the door that opens the ordinary to the wondrous that lies just beyond its surface. A pen may scratch paper with words. And the words more than scratch the surface of the daily and repetitious – they bring out its charm, its beauty, its allure – precisely because it is ordinary.
Someone recently told me that they get bored with reading the Bible because having read it so many times, he knows what is coming. Those words have, for him, lost something of their power. I can understand that. But the power of Scripture is not in the attracting of one’s attention to what comes in the next sentence or in the next page. The Bible mirrors the ongoing narrative that is life. The Bible is a “telling” that there is a telling about everything we know and are. Words, as we use them in conversation and in writing, do not have to be charged in a special way to exert their power on a reader or a listener. It is natural for words to be at their best when telling a story that is interesting, engaging, forward moving. Life certainly is not boring – if told or spoken for what it really is. Life is not a bad story. Sure, there are people who cannot tell a good joke or a good story. But someone can come along and write a wonderful story about the most word-poor people. We are the stories. We need good story tellers. I am finding that blogs have these in abundance.
Some people return again and again to favorite books. Once riveted by their charm, the words do not fail to delight if read again.
A day is like an “again” of the day that preceded it, but with a significant difference. It is a new day. New things will happen. A new page is being added to the narrative, the “telling” that is human life. Many people will be too busy to read it very closely – which is okay, since they are a part of the very narrative that they may or may not choose to read about. But there will be people who do write – people who are fascinated enough by what is going on in their hearts and on their street to type away a paragraph or two or three and bring a slice of life to shared language.
God spoke, and there was life. He spoke again, and there was Scripture. Something of God is speaking everywhere.
A woman writes of her worries and loves and fears and something of God comes through her labors. And she shares them, which is something God has done and always will do. It is the most important part of the story – that we share in God and God shares through us. There is indeed more on any street that meets the eye. Any street, any life, any day has more than we can ever say about it. How generous words are – to let us catch a glimpse of what comes our way day in and day out. Our days pass – but we can keep the best of them through what we write and say and remember. It is a lovely way to word life. It is something that God does, too.