Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Is Mine To Do

It's late. I'm notoriously unreliable late at night. I'm pretty tired. I've been working very hard on The Exorsistah 2, and it demands more of me that it feels like I have to give it. But I do what I have to do. If I only end up with five pages, I'll take it. I used to blaze through hundreds of pages in weeks. Not anymore. The well is drying up, or so it seems.

Tonight I'm thinking about St. Francis, as he lay dying. There are so many deaths around me. Not so much in body--thank God! But careers are dying, dreams are dying. The flowers in the yard--I had brown-eyed susans this year, and hostas, flowering with elegant purple blooms--all dying now. The leaves change color. A coolness invades the fading summer heat. Winter is coming, and I feel the change as my mood shifts with the bowing out of fall. Winter is always a death for me.

Some of Francis' last words were to his brothers, gathered around the beloved holy man to love him, even unto the end. And their father, the little poor man, said to them, "I have done what was mine to do. May Christ show you what is yours to do." That is one of my favorite sayings of the saint.

I feel like I'm being torn, a violent process, between vocations: advocate for the poor, writer. I and my vocations as wife and mother. Lovies, mair-francis is often found wanting as wife and mother. Have mercy, Jesus!

What's a girl who wants to be a saint when she grows up to do?

In times like these, I'm reminded of St. Therese, the little flower. She deeply influenced my new holy crush, Dorothy Day. She also influenced Mother Theresa. But Therese led a completely different life. She didn't serve the poor for more than fifty years. She didn't rescue the dying from Calcutta stress. She lived as a cloistered nun, and died at a mere twenty-four-years-old. But she knew the little way. Small things with great love. And nothing was too small to do in love, for Jesus.

How does the little way play out in my life? Right now?

It plays when I am doing the dishes. I don't like doing them. I don't like housework at all--I'm terrible at it. Always have been, but doing it with love makes it holy ordinary. It helps that I use the Palmolive with Lavender--but not much.

It plays in getting up, and doing what I don't like to do, and doing it for love, something like
praying for jobs for everybody in the whole world who doesn't have one. Dear God, there are more of us than I thought! The news has astounded me. The crisis that wasn't a crisis--so some pontificated last week--seems to be a crisis now, indeed. And that's just in America. People are losing their homes in mass. People who had homes to lose. I don't like that I don't have a job. That I'm behind in my rent, not mortage! I'd rather be prospering than praying, but praying makes me better than I'd be if I were prospering. I'm grateful for this hard time. But make no mistake about it. It's hard. So, I pray. I pray when I don't see results. I pray because it is small, but I can do it. And it makes me a better lover.

It plays in my writing. Being published confused me. I don't have to tell you that. I believed I was expected to be one of those Christian "personalities". I have way too much personality for anything in my life to feed that beast. It scared me. It made me forget something basic. When I stand before Jesus, He won't want to know so much about my "personality" or awards, or sales numbers, or the next Amanda Bell Brown mystery. He'll want to know if I were faithful to Him in His distressing disguises. He will want to know, if He mentions the writing at all--if it made me a better lover. And if the work inspired others to love.

I'm on my eight book. One more Exorsistah book when it's done. I may never write another novel. I don't think I'll grieve it much. I wasn't very good at it. I tried. God was good to me. And that's that.

Reading about Dorothy Day really startled me. I realized what a wonderful writer she was. She had a column for many years in the Catholic Worker Newspaper called "On Pilgrimage" where she simply wrote her pilgrim journey. She wrote what she saw, experienced, read. It was very much like a blog. And I asked myself, if stripped to the studs, would I stop writing all together? I don't think so. It's something of a compulsion in me. I realized in my absence from raga-d how much I like coming here. Sharing with you. Not being a writer. Being a pilgrim! A sinner, saved by grace. And that's a process. It wasn't an event.

I ranted here, rambled, but I always tried to point you to the Jesus I couldn't keep my eyes off. You've been part of my "pilgrimage." Isn't that enough writing?

What is mine to do? I ask myself that every day. Take care of the family, yes. But how do I take care of the poor Christ? No easy answers there. It's a real mystery. Something to keep praying about.

What else is mine to do? Write? Write what? Nobody promised me book contracts. So, here we are. You and me. You're here to read my pilgrimage. And I show up (occassionally) to share it with you. We're here because really, neither of us wants to go at it alone.

I'm glad Jesus gave us each other, even though I don't have much to offer in this rambling post at 2 am. I guess I'm just clutching at grace. Glad to bump against another hand in the night.

May Christ grant you peace, and show you what is yours to do.


Bernadette said...

last week on my way home from driving our three oldest to school, i was crying out, "Lord, i'm *terrible* at mothering and wifing and homemaking; they'll all be in major therapy one day because of me! did i *really* choose the right vocation? or was i supposed to be a nun?!?" so i was praying and crying and finally i whispered, "Jesus, i need a hug."
then i turned up our street, and right there in front of my eyes was a mama deer with her two little fawns following behind her.

i got it.

pretty cool, huh?

ragamuffin diva said...

That's an awesome hug, Bernadette. And be mindful that you have quite a brood over there. Be gentle with yourself.

Love you much. Gotta email you soon!

nuzor said...

Oh, Godmama. It is well. Though I have enjoyed your books, I do know that if God has called you to do something else, do it.

Remember my job situation? Well, Jesus made it a little miracle for me. My first choice professor said she wanted me to work for her (even with my future career counting against me). I didn't know what to say. In that second, I realized that God had heard my whining and pleading and was going, "Ok, kid, shut up now. You've got it. You've got it. Did I not say I will provide for you?" Read that in a New Yorker accent, lol.

But I've had dying dreams too, some of them dead. Writing, ironically, is one of them. And singing. And rapping. I never "succeeded" in them, and in one effort at 16, I just let them go. And now, I feel a lot less interesting, but it's not like that matters. God's not going to ask me how many talents I had and used on that great day. He wants me to love Him and others. So simple, but great in meaning.

Love ya.

ragamuffin diva said...

Ndidi, I've been praying since I got that comment. Praise God!!!!

We all go through abandoning dreams. Some of them just aren't a fit for who we really are. I am thankful for God's wacky surprises, that often blindside us at first, but later we see we were on the path to what is truly ours all along.

I love you, baby! I'm so happy!

Elysa said... CAN write novels...and GREAT ones at that! 'Nuff said.

Rhonda Jeanne said...

honey, if you could see you how I see would be amazed by your groovy writing and awesome humility and your lovely relationship with God. I don't know anyone with a more intimate relationship with their Saviour. Girl, how do you do that???? Is it a sin to covet a relationship with God?

David T said...

On the day when I most needed to hear thoses words...what is mine to do. I can only thank od and you for ministering to my soul.