by Marcia Lee Laycock
It’s somewhere in Africa. A young woman sits cross-legged on the ground, surrounded by tall grass. She has been told to sit very still. She can hear snuffling noises and now and then a grunt. When the massive head of a gorilla pokes out between the grasses, she is tempted to leap up and run. But she sits quietly. The gorilla approaches, moves around her, touches her hair, sniffs her shoulder. She remembers the instructions she was given: “No sudden movements. Keep your eyes on the ground.”
Writing coach Natalie Goldberg wrote -“A writer must be willing to sit at the bottom of the pit, commit herself to stay there, and let all the wild animals approach, even call them up, then face them, write them down, and not run away.”
There seems to be an underlying belief among many Christians that writing about what is painful and ugly in life is somehow denying the goodness of God. That is not what the Bible teaches. Psalm 12:6 (KJV) says – “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. “Tried in a furnace of earth.” That doesn’t sound pleasant to me. “Purified seven times.” That sounds like struggle and anguish and pain that has been forged into what is pure and wholesome.
Madeleine L’Engle once said – “It is not that what is, is not enough, for it is; it is that what is has been disarranged, and is crying out to be put in place.”
We do not write about the dark, the things born of despair, in order to glorify them, but in order to put them in their place and to recognize that there is something more, something infinitely better – there is redemption of all that is ugly and evil in this world, because of what happened on a cross at the base of a hill in a tiny country then called Palestine.
1Cor. 4:2 says – “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I believe we have been given a trust as writers and we must be faithful to it. To make our lives of use to others we must be willing to touch those parts of ourselves that are universal, both the evil and the noble. It is when we are able to reach that level that we will produce good work, significant work, perhaps even life-changing work.
Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian song writer and poet said, “you’ve got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.”
This is the work we have been given to do. May He find us faithful.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
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