listen to your life

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 5 January, 2014 at

So I’ve been agitating and provoking my friends to start blogging again. I’m not sure I expected anyone to actually respond, but it seems I underestimated my powers! Sam has got back on his soap box. Vox is lifting up his voice again. Espero is doing her honest and hopeful thing as only she can. A few faithful bloggers had never gone away (like Kevin and Sharon and Dave and Gemma). Others have started up recently without needing any poking from me (Wee Frizz). I’m hoping a few more will join the party over the next few weeks and start or revive their blogs (I’m looking at you, Rachel and Lorraine).

(Update: it turn out wee Wylie-Neill had beaten me to it and has broken her long silence here. Word is that wandering Wendy is also waivering. Jenzo has been blogging away so we have lots to catch up on. Small Corner is feeling hard done by but a quick check confirms she wrote one blog post in 2013. So, you know, get your blog on. More updates will appear here as they break.)

I value the conversation that can be stirred up by blogs. Someone asked me why I prefer the conversation on blogs to the kind we can have on Facebook. I think it’s something to do with slowing down. Facebook is fast, always changing and updating. It’s easy to drop a quick comment, a quick like, it costs nothing, we don’t even have to stop watching TV to do it. I find it compulsive and addictive and entertaining and mostly unsatisfying.

But when someone sits down and writes something about their life, about their thoughts and ideas, their hopes and fears and joys and sorrows, about what is inspiring or depressing them – well then I think that deserves a few minutes of my time to brew some coffee, and then to read and digest and ponder. And then maybe a few minutes more to respond – to agree, to disagree, to cheer, to celebrate or lament with them, to say “me too!” or “yes, but…” or “what do you mean by…?” or “I wonder if…” We blog to know we’re not alone.

The challenge I’m setting myself is to learn to write a  little more about the everyday and ordinary. I tend to live in a world of ideas. I’m most comfortable writing about my latest theological and philosophical musings than about about what’s going on in my life and my heart. And partly that’s OK, that’s the way I’ve been wired, that’s what I love and maybe what I’m good at, so for me to write honestly about my life will include writing about Big Ideas.

But I’d also like to learn to pay attention to the small things that particularly stir my heart – whether they are things in movies or books or music, or things I see walking down the street, or things that happen in our little home, or things that rise up in me without any obvious cause. This little quote from Frederick Buechner has long been a favourite and I guess it kind of sums up what I’d like to learn to do:

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

I’d like my writing to be a way of being awake, paying attention to the story of my own life, looking for signs of grace, listening for “whispers from the wings of the stage.” Another quote has been following me around for the last couple of weeks, this time from a novel by Walker Percy:

Not once in his entire life had he come to rest in the quiet center of himself but had forever cast himself from some dark past he could not remember to a future that did not exist. Not once had he been present for his life. So his life had passed like a dream. Is it possible for people to miss their lives the way one can miss a plane?

I guess my hope is that maybe blogging can be a way of being present to my own life, because I don’t want to miss anything. And maybe reading and responding to each other’s blogs can be a way of being present to each other, listening to each other’s lives as well as our own. Anyone else want to get on the plane?

14 Responses to “listen to your life”

  1. Always biased, but I think you articulated this beautifully and I love the idea of paying attention to our lives. I’ve been thinking lately how quickly these years are passing, measured most starkly by how enormous our kids are getting-how did that happen? Weren’t we just pacing the floors with them the other day? The blog is a definite kick up the arse to be present, to check in and explore what we are feeling and thinking. But also as stones on the road, markers to testify to who we have been and how we have changed. Nothing like reading through the archives of my blog to spark memories and reflection.

  2. Hello and thanks for this and for nudging quite a few folk to blog via facebook.

    I love that Buechner quote – thought about it a lot on new years day when walking in the vast open spaces of The Moine on the north coast of Scotland. When and how do we listen to our lives? Does the gratitude listening leads us to lead me to more gentle living, with myself and others?

    I have a relationship to blogging similar to the one I have with photography – something in me wants to capture the scene that I see before me, to fulfil my enjoyment by sharing the image or do I in-fact prevent a more fulfilled enjoyment of it by just being there, by not trying to capture it, absorbing all that it has to carry me back to the moment when needed. So with blogging, and journalling, does it amplify the moments that Buechner encourages us to hear or do moments pass us by while we busy ourselves writing about the ones, thoughts, past..

    There is, I imagine, a time for blogging and a time for journalling,
    A time to update a facebook status and a time to switching off the smartphone,
    A time for taking photographs and a time for leaving the lens-cap on,
    A time to leave a reply and a time to read without remark.
    A time to write and a time to go for long walks or a long run.

    In either or many ways I’ve kept a few blogs over the years – tending to be more for episodes of life rather than ongoing encounters – current ones are wendywandering and wendyrunning both with wordpress. Had thought recently about visiting different churches each Sunday morning (my church is at 8pm) and keeping a blog of those – not in a ship-of-fools kind of way but in a sharing of worship/preaching styles – would be good for my church resources work, church activity here in Glasgow and for my being and perhaps for others – or it could be incredibly boring…will see.

    Go well into 2014 and into the blogosphere, I may see you there.

    Thanks again, Wendy.

  3. jaybercrow

    Wendy! I knew I was forgetting some people I would love to have in this conversation. I love hearing your voice.

    I very much resonate with what you’re saying here. This is definitely the “shadow side” of blogging for me too. I can end up looking for material to write about, and before I’ve actually lived the experience I’m thinking about how to write it. I dislike the way texting and Facebooking and photographing and videoing can take us out of the present moment. But thinking about writing can also have the same effect. How do we avoid that? I’m not sure.

    But I know I want to be in some kind of conversation with people like you, and Dave Freeburn, and Lorraine Wylie, and Emma Wilson, and Sharon Gilmore. And since we’re not all living in the same village, and since Facebook has its obvious limits, well, this seems like maybe the closest thing to gathering by the fire in our local!

    I’ve added your “wendywandering” to my blogroll as a gentle nudge. No pressure if this is a season for not writing. But I love to hear your voice.

  4. Glad that you’ve revived it. I need to do something similar with mine when I have time. Have you read ‘Gilead’ by Marylinne Robinson. Your comments reminded me of her novel and much of her writing.

  5. Jenny

    Love this idea….I’m more a blog when the notion takes me girl but I seem to be coming to it more and more at the moment as a kind of journal as I try to gather my own thoughts, it’s really more for me than everyone else but I don’t mind people reading this journal

  6. Rachel

    Oi! I’ve written more regularly than YOU Jaycrow… Or, ok… Umm… my last one was at the end of October. But still…

  7. Rachel

    Also… I have to admit, I have an almost-finished post that I planned on putting up very soon, but now I’m feeling rebellious and don’t wanna dot just cos you said so 😉 But, know this – now you’ve got plenty of people to kick your butt when you’re silent 🙂

  8. I like blogging,maybe not so much writing them but the ability to tag individual posts.That way I can build a big picture up over the years of what does or doesn’t push my buttons. The tags are a little like stones on the road for me.
    But like you say, I also know that I’ll be in the middle of something and think ‘I must write about that’ and don’t like it either. It’s sort of like ministers who can’t watch a film without thinking ‘That would make a good sermon illustration’

  9. Amen to that JM. I feel like I often miss life because I can’t get over the shock of where I find myself a lot of the time. Like, when did I become a person married to another far from where I grew up, having solicitors meetings about mortgages and conversations about how to raise our child…wait…I have a child? What?! See! I have missed most of the journey that has brought me here. I’m going to join you in trying to pay more attention to my life and heart.

  10. Sam

    I love these quotes and the theme of learning to listen to your life and the power and benefit of doing it with others. As you know I’m an activist who isn’t great at reflecting. One of my goals for this year is to build in time to listen, to be attentive so I’m looking forward to blogging playing a part in that. Thanks!

  11. Hi JM / Lorraine. Adding reactivated Jaybercrow and Transfarmer to my blogroll in anticipation of many more of your posts to come ….!

  12. Rachel

    come on, come on Jayber… you’re being awful quiet!


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