I just finished reading Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle. Again. And once again my heart and mind are stirred. I am reminded that being a writer, for me, isn’t a choice really. (Although you might never know by looking at my blog archive for the past two months! I have been writing, just not here. But I digress.)
I decided to delve into this book again after attending a weekend songwriting seminar earlier in the summer. More than one of the presenters recommended “Walking On Water” as a must-read resource for writers. I knew they were right and I knew it was on my shelf at home, so I couldn’t wait to crack it open again.
The seminar, by the way, was hosted by Gloria Gaither, who is arguably one of the great lyric writers of this century. She invited Buddy Greene, Reba Rambo-McGuire and Dony McGuire, and one of my other favorite songwriters in the world, Andrew Peterson, to lead workshops along with her. Bill Gaither also joined the fun. It was magical.
Even greater than the inspiration and instruction I gained during the weekend was the fact that my 14-year-old son attended with me. He absorbed every word with a clarity and understanding that might challenge most of the adults who were there. We have known since he was a toddler that being an artist would be a calling from which he would probably never escape – or want to escape – because he has always understood the power of art at a level I didn’t think a child could understand.
So, naturally, this time I read “Walking On Water” with him in mind. My boy enjoys the wonders and subtleties of art without the filters and inhibitions adults sadly, unknowingly pick up when we believe the critics (both those inside and outside our own heads). And as I read L’Engle’s description of the creative process, I was reminded that the earthly limits we put on our imaginations are the barriers keeping us from hearing, and telling, a bigger story than we ever thought we could tell.
Writers, we can tell ourselves that the story brewing in us is not marketable, or believable, or it isn’t what publishers are looking for, or whatever. But we HAVE to write it anyway. Songwriters, we can talk ourselves out of that song weighing on our hearts like an anchor, and we might even get used to walking through life with an anchor in our chests. But if we go through life refusing to be a servant of this humble, precious calling to create, how will we teach our kids and the “great cloud of witnesses” around us that they, too, can and must listen to the Voice of inspiration?
The stakes just got higher. I’m finding that it’s not just me that suffers if I don’t write what I need to write. Young eyes are watching. Learning. Waiting. Discovering how this process works and whether or not answering our call to creativity is worth it.
Even if (okay, when) we fear the intensity and vulnerability the creation process forces, faith becomes more than a nice word. It means stepping into the unknown, remembering that the journey before us is unknown to us – not to Him. He is bigger, greater and much kinder than our fears and inhibitions. All we need to do is listen and trust. Then perhaps we can create something better than ourselves.
I’m finding that if human beings like me, like you, like my 14-year-old budding writer, and like his 12-year-old sister who will be next… if we trust our Creator enough to allow Him to move through us, there is no limit to what He could accomplish through our obedience. We could just as easily walk on water next to Jesus just as Peter did!
Creating something alongside our Creator or walking with Him on top of the water — both are miracles. Both require absolute trust. Both depend less on what we understand and more on what we do not yet know of Him. Both require obedience, a first step, then another. And a step when we would rather quit. Another when we aren’t sure what’s next.
Write, paint, compose, build, carve, photograph, plant…these are the mediums through which our world might just experience a taste of eternity.