Sometimes, when I edit, I take things out that aren't working. And there is a pleasure in that, tossing the garbage away, decluttering the page, so I keep going. I trim sentences, then paragraphs, then cut whole sections on a whim. If I feel it's going well, I will delete chapters and page numbers, author's notes and any punctuation, including paragraph breaks and the spaces in between. Then, with great care, I move the empty document to the trash, and close my laptop. Usually at this point, I stop for the day, for I have come as close as I can to perfection.
This morning as I began to edit, I took pleasure in tossing the garbage, decluttering the page, so I kept going. I trimmed sentences, then paragraphs, then cut whole sections on a whim. It was going well, so I deleted chapters and page numbers, author's notes and any punctuation, including paragraph breaks and the spaces in between. Then, with great care, I moved the empty document to the trash, and closed my laptop. I called my family in to celebrate. Finally, I had achieved something close to perfection.
I began to edit, taking pleasure in decluttering the page. I trimmed sentences, then paragraphs, then cut whole sections with a small gesture of my pinky. On a roll, I deleted chapters, then page numbers, then any left-over punctuation including the spaces in between the words. Finally I moved the empty document to the trash and called my wife to celebrate. I had finally achieved perfection.
I took pleasure in decluttering the page. With a gesture of my pinky, I trimmed, then cut, then slashed whole sections. I deleted all of it, including the left-over paragraph breaks that trailed down the page. I placed the document in the trash and celebrated. It was finally perfect.
It felt good to edit. I started small but then cut whole sections, deleting all of it until there was only a blinking cursor on the top left corner of the page. Only then, was it perfect.
Editing is good. I cut everything then deleted the document. Perfection.
When I erased it all, it was perfect.
Erased to perfection.
I was swimming across the lake and at every stroke my head turned into the water. In the shallow parts I saw stalks of vegetation reaching toward the surface and the occasional minnow. As I went deeper, the living things dropped away and were replaced by an eerie green haze.
I felt unsettled, even scared. Every time my face plunged below the surface I expected to see eyes, or a snout, or the back of some great sea-beast. I could sense hungry monsters just beyond the light. The effect was strong enough that a hundred yards out I decided to keep my eyes closed.
Sadly, even when I am on dry ground, this is how I often see the world. I look into a hazy future and the hand of God seems hidden. All I see are the worst outcomes, the wrong choices, the big mistakes, the bad news.
And so I have to remind myself: I had been plunged into the water before this. I am a baptized child of God. Claimed by Christ, I know that there are no monsters, not really. Darkness, devil, death, they have all been swallowed up by the victory of the empty tomb.
In Jesus, the future is nothing to fear. And filled with his grace, I have the courage to swim to the far shore.
I got on the bike. The girls bike painted a dainty blue. I got on the bike and I began to ride.
I would ride until the trail ended, until the road gave way to rock. I would ride mindful o nothing but motion and when I could not ride anymore, when my back tire swirled in sand, then I would walk.
I would walk, following my own path, angling towards the horizon, or a few degrees to the left. I would walk until forever, until my sandals turned to socks and my socks thinned to dust. I would walk through blisters and past exhausted legs. I would walk until there was no more land. And then, the great blue sea indistinguishable from the sky, I would swim.
I would swim past the buoys and through the tankers’ wakes. I would swim into the emptiness until nothing remained but me and water. I would swim until my arms gave out, and my lungs and heart and then I would float or sink or fly.
But I would go on. Through each turn and over each hill. I would go on until all became clear, until I understood what is right at the edge of my vision. I would go on until I heard the very voice of God. Whether whispered with a tickle against my neck or hollered until my eardrums hurt I would go on until I heard it, and then - only then - would I stop. And rest. And smile.
And so I set out on my ladies bike. It was old and rusty but silent. And I biked until my bike would go no further. And so I walked, the sand cushioned my footsteps. The sun echoed my journey in the sky above me. I walked until my toes hurt. I walked until my back ached. I walked until soft sand turned to sharp rocks.
And then, hungry (I hadn’t much of a breakfast) and missing my friends, I turned around and went home.
During the winter of 2012-2013, I went through three months of chemotherapy. Here is the blog I kept during the treatment:
Prepare yourselves: learn to read, get a credit card, sign up for Amazon Prime, whatever you have to do, because it is coming. My first novel, That Day, Great and Terrible, will be available for purchase on Tuesday, October 13th.
The room was soaked with the warm aroma of baked bread. He raised the plate towards her. "Have some bread. It's fresh from the oven."
"No thanks," she replied.
"Yeah. It looks moldy."
"What? Nope. Not moldy. I just made it."
She shrugged. "It's probably dry."
"I've made it before, lots of times. I'm sure it is moist and delicious."
"Well, poisoned then."
His eyebrows shot up. "Poisoned? Why would I poison you? Here, I'll take a bite myself."
She watched him eat, unimpressed.
"It's really good." He spoke through a full mouth.
"You look gross when you eat it."
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Maybe. But that's not the bread's fault."
She examined the bread hungrily. Her eyes flicked between gift and giver. "Well, all right," she said. "I'll try one bite."
A slow smile spread across her face as she chewed. A warmth softened her eyes as she swallowed. Her body relaxed as she reached for another piece.
"Thank you," she whispered. "It's wonderful."
And so the Christian has the peculiar job of offering the treasures of God to a world reluctant to receive them.