This morning, I was reading the book, The Master Key to Every Kingdom — Grace and became instantly captivated. Written by Crichton Russ Boatwright, the words were so sparkling and the language so lyrical, I lost myself in the experience. Even before I grasped the first main idea, her writing enthralled me. It was fabulous.
Lately, writing has really captured my imagination. I recently spent a weekend in Pam Grout’s workshop (“play-shop” as she likes to call them). Pam is the New York Times best-selling author of E-Squared, E-Cubed, Art and Soul Revisited, Thank and Grow Rich, thirteen other books and countless articles. She’s been writing her whole life, and got her professional start as a travel writer.
I, on the other hand, have wanted to write my whole life. I have been told countless times I should be a writer, dating all the way back to Mr. Houghton in junior high school. But I never put myself out there. Too timid, too afraid to be vulnerable, too willing to talk myself out of really committing to just do it. It’s easier and safer to hide out and imagine how great you could be than to risk it all and potentially fail.
But after being in the experience of Pam’s workshop, marinating in the positivity and the possibilities, I am sitting here writing a blog post, completely unasked for and unsolicited. Putting myself out there.
You see, it occurred to me as I was reading this morning, bathing myself in those gorgeous words, that Ms. Boatwright’s writing was not only an attempt to convey knowledge. As a matter of fact, conveying knowledge may actually be a secondary side effect of good writing. I’m coming to believe that the best writing is an act of worship.
I’m not talking about “good” writing as in what your high school English teacher would have approved of and slapped an A on. I’m talking about writing that heals, soothes, lays balm on the soul. Writing that opens your eyes and gives you hope. It doesn’t have to be perfect, if it’s deeply felt. You can tell just by reading whether the author really felt what they were writing.
Ms. Boatwright probably got more out of setting those words down on paper than I will ever get out of reading them, no matter how many times I read them, even if I read until I’ve memorized them. To explain what I mean, let me use an analogy.
My husband talks about electricity a lot. Being the creative, non-technical soul that I am, my brain short-circuits when he does that, and I don’t always understand it completely, but I do get this much: No matter what you do, when you send electrical impulses down a line, you lose some of the power. There is resistance. This is due to the nature of the materials used. It’s inevitable—impossible to avoid. There is simply no way to get 100% of the electricity sent out from the source to the end user. Some of it is lost in translation.
I think that is true in human interaction as well. When I have an idea, no matter how sparkling and clear it is to me, no matter how clearly I try to convey these ideas to another, they don’t always make it intact into their mind. That’s why we have to have policy manuals and law books and all those dry documents—to try to capture and convey ideas and to reduce the resistance that comes when we try to convey ideas one mind to the next.
When I read Ms. Boatwright’s words, the ideas come through, but not as clearly or as scintillatingly, as sharply and as achingly as she feels them. It’s never really going to happen. Even if I read it again and again, I can commit it to head knowledge all I want, the resistance on the line is going to affect the transmission of ideas, and they will be a little bit diminished. When I sit in Sunday service and listen to the message, I don’t always completely get every idea that is being presented to me in all of its implications. I can see by the demeanor of the ministers that this is fascinating, interesting and enlightening, but sometimes my brain or heart doesn’t engage with it. This is resistance. It’s not bad, or wrong; it just is.
What does this mean? Should we all stop reading books or attending service? Of course not! What it does mean is that we are not meant to be only receivers. To go back to the electricity analogy (and I’m on thin ice here), electricity is an alternating current. It goes back and forth. If it only goes one direction, it dies out.
If all I do is read books, listen to talks and never share those ideas, never write, I block the flow. It is the same with worship. It is also meant to flow in two directions, giving and receiving.
It is easy sometimes to think of worship as something the ministers do on Sunday morning from the platform. But, if we stop and take closer notice, we begin to feel the devotion of worshippers of all types—holy men and women, authors and artists—and realize that we are surrounded by acts of worship. The art museums. The gardens. The books. Anything created in devotion to something greater than oneself is an act of worship.
It makes me realize that my writing can heal me. All of our expressions of devotion and worship are healing and aligning. I think we can do, should do, what we can to express divine ideas as a part of that flow. If we just come in to church, sit in the pew, then leave, and do nothing else, we block that flow.
Does that mean we need to write a book, become a minister, or the next Oprah Winfrey? Perhaps, but it’s not necessary. Just start small. Write a journal entry, or a Facebook post about something that sparked in you. If you feel moved, write a comment on this blog post. Join a Spirit Group. Express your own divine idea. Engage the world in a conversation. Don’t just receive. Broadcast, also. It is in teaching that we also learn. It is in healing that we are also healed. The world is waiting to hear my voice. And, it is waiting to hear your voice, too.