Lead me not into temptation; I can find the way myself.
~ a quote from author Rita Mae Brown
I was struck by the humor, and yet truth of these words above, when I got in one of my daily quotes the other day. The thing that struck me the most is that these words went right along with what I was thinking throughout and after the sermon at Church on Sunday.
Namely, the sermon was about not looking to the left or the right, about the fact that as Christians we must concentrate on God and His Kingdom alone, and all else is an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction.
I had to struggle with these concepts, for the most part, because the work of the author and poet is quite the opposite. The work of the author and poet is to take in everything, digest it, and feed it back to the world, perhaps synthesized according to a certain world view.
This brought me back to a certain specific dilemma I often confront (head on, as I confront everything else in this big beautiful world), namely: is it even possible to be an author / poet and still be a Christian. There are many places in life where I have a face-off with this dilemma. For example, many successful authors say that the only way you can become successful is if you put the work of writing far above everything else in life: your family, your friends, your religion… And, from what I have seen, it is mostly true. I face this dilemma daily as I struggle for time to write, fight for time to think about my writing. And yet, on the other hand, I am not willing to completely set aside my family, my Church, and my faith. No, in fact, I go on writing in their midst… I go on working on things in my head, even while the ordinary world happens around me. (From what I’ve heard from successful and not-so-successful authors, this is also a common phenomenon.)
How then do I face the dilemma? What do I ultimately decide: is not God more important than my writing? What about my friends and family?
I find myself always going back to the same point, and then using the same argument to “justify my conclusion.” Namely, I must use the “talent” God has given me, or else I become like the man who buried his one talent in the earth, and then expected his master to be happy when he returned from his journey (remember the parable?). So then how do I justify the ramifications of this? Do I really have to ignore my Church and my Family to serve God properly?
No, I think not. One does not have to set aside his wife, children, friends, faith and family (though he may have once in a while to fight with them for time) in order to be a writer. Here I take my inspiration from the incarnation. Just as Christ, we believe, is fully God and fully man, so must I be fully in this earth and fully in heaven. In order to be the writer I that I feel I must, I must let my mind (and my words) wander into every corner of this earth, all the while never letting it wander too far from the Truth that is within me. That does not mean I have to sin. No, I the contrary, I should become a sanctifying presence wherever I wander. But it does mean I have to get awfully close to the gates of hell, as I go about my journey. It also means I cannot be afraid to get dirty from time to time.
I think my friends and family are starting to understand that I’m a bit eccentric. And so far I haven’t ever had to throw anyone out so that I could work on something. But I sometimes wonder, if my writing starts to become more successful – so successful that I have obligations and deadlines, and yet not quite successful enough that I can quit my day job… then what will I do? Well, I don’t have a plan yet, but as they say at the company where I work whenever we get new contracts, and don’t have enough employees: “it’s a good problem to have.”