My presence in this room of writers was a strange beginning; at least, this was my perception. Self-evident to me, they were honed in their craft. I was not. Some internal gravity pulled me to this meeting, meted me with enough courage to subject myself and attend. Feeling intimidated, my guard gave way to the joy in the room. These writers were good people, and the warmth I received, unearned, freely dispensed, made me feel like family.
David Whyte writes, “Beginning is difficult, and our procrastination is a fine ever-present measure of our reluctance in taking that first close-in, courageous step to reclaiming our happiness. Perhaps, because taking a new step always leads to a kind of radical internal simplification, where, suddenly, very large parts of us, parts of us still rehearsing the old, complicated story, are suddenly out of a job. There occurs in effect, a form of internal corporate downsizing, where the parts of us too afraid to participate or having nothing now to offer, are let go, with all the accompanying death-like trauma, and where the very last fight occurs, a rear guard disbelief that this new, less complicated self, and this very simple step, is all that is needed for the new possibilities ahead.”
I feel a deep sadness for the person who cannot see beyond his own existence, who is bound by reality’s limited sight, who does not feel the deep call of meaning, a freedom of thought, the kind of freedom allowing one to move, and in concurrent grief, severing his past from a pull toward freedom and joy at the end of patience. Small minds are bound to small worlds, and their sin is the desire to stay the same.
“Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV).
Christians are born again, called to choose the greatest of faith, hope and love, to leave behind a comforting denial and begin again. And thus forgiven, forgiving becomes that beginning, that new birth, first of self, then others as self. All beginnings begin here. In them is a reckoning, a negotiation with an internal unwillingness, a demanding not to forget, an agreement with remembrances, a savored reflection.
Then, overcoming a primary reticence, there follows a looking forward, a well-wishing, a vision toward some betterment of where we were. If David Whyte is right, and beginning is simplifying, this means shedding our negotiated past as a cherished, purposed reminder. We must simply begin.
My attendance at this writer’s meeting was a point reached, a result of living past pain, severed endings and the resulting forced beginnings. Life has trained me in endurance. I’ve learned to simply….
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).