Kathleen Norris writes, “When I stop running from my life, I can return to living it, willing to be present again, in the present moment.” (p. 18, Acedia & me)
Alone in a tunnel of noise, I called out to God. Surrounded by the cacophony of the MRI machine, I prayed. Though I had mentally distanced myself from my illness for months, here I was, still intimately in need of God’s presence in sickness.
Even eight years into this mess of sickness, I struggle to know where to place illness in relation to myself. I can stop describing it, try to focus my energy elsewhere, and quietly move forward. Yet, it’s part of the atoms that make up my life.
Some spiritual guides of mine and my husband’s have written, “…whatever I disown winds up controlling me.” (Rich Plass & Jim Cofield)
As much as I would like to set illness to the side, it is part of my life.
There is a fine line between being more than your suffering and disowning your story.
Just as the screeches and beeps of an MRI overwhelm, we are each engulfed in a world of noise.
After a long period of silence publicly on my blog, it has been difficult to find words. At first in the past several months I wanted to distance myself from the noise of the writing world, in silence to say that I didn’t have to speak. It was liberating to acknowledge I have a voice but that I can choose to use it when I want.
But over time, not writing did me a disservice. Writing has long been a means of my integration—a process that brings perspective. Writing grounds my place in this liminal life. In words, I can hold my life with open hands before God. Without the discipline of writing, though, I tend to listen to noise instead of focusing on what matters.
As I come out of a long period of quiet, I’m reminded of the words of the Psalmist:
I’ve calmed and quieted my soul. And in the quiet, I’ve learned I need to speak, not to be heard, but to walk the fine line of owning my story.
How do you own your story? None of us can do it alone, and none of us can do it without work. Perhaps what we need most is a way to listen, discipline that parses the noise from the substance, that allows us to see our one, real life and God as its good Author.
So I will listen, and I will write.