Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Standing in My Light

A wall of my writing cave at Pendle Hill

According to Tanya Taylor Rubinstein, the Global Story Coach:

          The world has conditioned us, whether we are coaches, writers, artists, business people or other kinds of creative folks, that we need to always be moving outward.
          We don’t. From a place of deep abundance, we truly can remain open, and receive what it meant for us. This is the point of attraction and power. It is not a passive path. It is not a hermit’s path either. It’s one of powerful intention and receptivity. And, it’s one of conscious awareness of being led by something greater than the individual self.
Tanya says that this is radical faith, and I agree. I have been reflecting today on lessons I am learning at Pendle Hill, and Tanya's assertion is one of them.  To have a chance to learn this experimentally is a great blessing. 

Pendle Hill

Being here for 8 weeks is possible because I wrote a proposal to get grant funds from the Minnie Jane Scholarship for Quaker Artists to have residencies at Pendle Hill.  The arts program director Jesse White also made it possible by choosing my proposal to fund.  But in a larger way it was a gift I gave myself through attraction and power.  Did I just say that about myself?  Yikes!  I'm more comfortable saying that it was my strong intention to create and to develop faith in God's power.   

Taking time out of the revolutionary work of Undoing Racism in making Black Lives Matter, building a West Philadelphia Friends Meeting, and continuing the witness of Buds of Jesus was absolutely necessary to my progress in writing my autobiographical novel.  I have 116 pages now.  I revised the first 60 and added 70 more during my stay (which isn't over until the 17th of March).  It is a gift I gave myself every day because God led me through the entire year from application through back surgery and physical therapy to retreat.  This gift of time made the writing a priority and I've rarely felt more alive.

One of the rare times I've felt similarly animated was when I became a member of Williamsburg Meeting of Friends in the mid-1990s after attending various meetings for 15 years.  I had spent 2 years in the Baltimore Yearly Meeting's Spiritual Formation program.  This included witnessing the presence of a power larger than myself on a daily basis and included readings and the discipline of writing daily. I buzzed--quaked (?)--with presence and knew that the work I did was important to God, that God had led me to it.  My hands felt larger.  I directed theatre and taught how to make it with a voice that came from beyond me.  I felt like a channel even if I didn't know what the work was for.  I trusted.  I knew I wanted to study and write about Quakers in theatre but didn't know when or how.  I wrote performances instead, and looked forward to the day I could take a break from earning a living and have a spiritual retreat. 

But I felt caught up in my ego: me, me, me ... and I was afraid to take the retreat or begin the research project.  Partly I needed to earn economic security.  Mostly I feared both failure and success at achieving my goals.  If I hold something like my novel in front of me as "a possible but unlikely future," and never give it any time, I don't ever have to learn if I'll succeed or fail.  I never have to learn how it's part of my calling and ministry.

I'm over that hump now.  I am in the embrace of something. 

The performances I did back in the 1990s are the meat of my novel about an aging woman who was radical in the 1970s and 80s.  The transformations of those times are what I am led to write about now.  I am not certain of all the reasons why.  This is radical faith.

A prayer for my novel

After the next two weeks, I will continue to write the novel at home until I am finished even if I have "to miss out on" some other aspects of life.  I will take my cave from my Pendle Hill room including a huge display of outlines and sticky notes of ideas, plot points and additions to incorporate.  I will take my consistent practice of writing until noon and walking after lunch, letting the rest of the day assist me in faithfulness.  

I will continue to pray with visual art forms and writing itself--for myself and others and for my novel's characters.  The spiritual development is making the creativity possible and vice versa.

And--here's another discovery--I will enjoy all of it!  This is not an occasion for suffering but one for joy; this is not a break from living but life itself.  

A prayer for Alice, the protagonist of my novel

I will write more as way opens.