Baskets of laundry stand in line, waiting their turn to spin in soapy water. A load of damp towels and washcloths rest in stiff, crumpled shapes against the sides of the washing machine, ready to be tumbled and warmed. Yet another load of hand-me-downs and garage sale finds sits in the dryer, waiting to move into their new spaces in drawers and on hangers, needed to accommodate the growing legs and arms of my children.
I sit at my dining room table and push lunch crumbs from beneath my bare toes and wonder why I am typing and not sweeping or folding or anything more productive than putting words on a screen.
I remember the words of writers Ann Voskamp and Holley Gerth telling the importance of words, of offering what we’ve been given as worship to the One who has given all to us.
And it seemed God whispered that in the Kingdom there isn’t much difference between a hungry belly and a hungry heart. There are all kinds of needs. And all kinds of ways to meet them. Sometimes that means actual food and a trip to another country. Other times it means daily bread of words offered from wherever we are.
— Holley Gerth, Can Words really Change the World?
A blonde girl dressed in pink asks me to carry a plastic castle from the basement, and I feel guilty for entertaining words and not playing with her.
I remember my old roommate Mandy’s words that pursuing her art is not selfish, but being a good steward of the gifts given her.
If God has called us to it and partnered with us in it and equipped us for it, then we are not being selfish, we are instead stewards of the gift. We are responsible for caring for it, nurturing it and using it well.
— Mandy Steward, Messy Canvas: Selfish or a Steward? — Part 1
This game I play with words, debating their value in this season of life, is not new. It’s the reason I started this blog and later quit this blog. They, the words, dance around in my head, sometimes singing and sometimes taunting. They sometimes whisper and sometimes yell.
Another blonde girl dressed for Yellow Day at preschool arrives, knocking at the front door. She’s given a ride home by my friend, and I feel guilty for losing track of time and failing to greet her at the door.
Yet the words keep swirling, asking to be set free from their prison in my head.
I remember how I cringed as we started to sing an old hymn at church on Sunday. I had longed for a more modern song, yet as the familiar tune filled the sanctuary, I realized the words — more words — were just for me.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
— The Love of God, by Frederick M. Lehman
The words are persistent. They will not go away. I beg and plead with them to leave me be, and they beg and plead back for me to stop pushing them away.
So, I stop the tug-of-war and pause before returning to the sweeping and laundry and other productive things. I dip into the ocean of ink and start painting on the parchment filled sky.