Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Careful Editing

( Dear friends who subscribe to my blog by email, please note that it’s a prettier read if you go to my blogsite instead of your inbox. One day I will switch to a better method of access.)

Writers all struggle with the editing process, even if their only editor is themselves. What should I put out there to readers and what needs deleting?

For instance, it seems nervy to describe in public my own grief and confusion during my husband’s brain cancer illness, when our story pales beside others far worse. Mid-Eastern  refugees are living in unsanitary tent cities. Those mothers hold their sick babies close while fathers guard the family's worldly possessions in a bundle about the size of my garbage can.
Our family's current challenge is nothing compared to theirs. The stress of facing a medical team who rattle off incomprehensible jargon and hand over wads of instructions while leaving the exam room does not equal the terror of facing armed soldiers who bar a border crossing. 

Edit carefully.
I don't want readers distracted by my words of self-doubt such as above, or to feel they need to respond with advice, to save me somehow from any negativity. 
But I firmly believe that mixed feelings about life are natural and healthy. Writers from King David through to Ann Lamott have described the seesaw between glory and gloom. Devout followers of Jesus remember that Jesus himself felt abandoned by God. 

Ideally, we consciously choose what to do with our emotions. Like many, I sometimes decide to write them out, not just in a private journal but in public. It’s a sacred wonder that my personal stories occasionally encourage others. What an honour!

I hope readers give at least equal attention to my joy in the ongoing sparks that can illuminate a dim day with bright delight.
Here are some recent shiny moments.
One neighbour bought a grocery item we needed, saving me an extra hair-raising drive through Toronto’s traffic. Another took my wristwatch to have a new battery installed, shortening my list of tiresome tasks. Of course these are errands I could have done for myself, but my days are newly tiring so a neighbour’s favour helps keep me functioning.

Women at church sent my husband and myself each a cozy “prayer shawl”, hand-knit with love. Wrapped in the woolly warmth we feel God’s consolation.

Last week, my husband enjoyed two nights beside Lake Ontario at a corner-windowed hotel room, upgraded by a sympathetic manager. He needed a day away to regroup, and found the 36 hours calming and inspiring. He reminded me that hotel rooms are more comfortable than convents. :-))

While he was away, I spent the day following my inclinations, one hour walking an outdoor labyrinth while listening for Sophia*, another hour happily buying gifts at a beautiful Nature store, and several hours reading. 

Recently we had fun taking grandchildren to see the animated Christmas window displays that include a charming underfloor mouse-house. We ate a one-star meal at a deli where we played our family's traditional “Pass the sugar packet” waiting game, and smiled at a six year old’s refusal to order a hotdog because the Children's Menu described it as “beef”, an idea that was confusing and off-putting to her. 

At a Christmas coffee party with new church friends
I received lots of lingering hugs and enjoyed seeing the elaborate Christmas decorations in the host’s gorgeous home. My aesthetic sense appreciated the break from hospital waiting rooms.

A member of my husband’s book club brought us an unusual present, a Ganesha mask. This friend thought of us because the Hindu god is known for help during difficulty. 

I wish I could divide up all my resources and supportive relationships to share them out with the thousands in Lebanon or in Toronto hospitals who lack such riches. 
I will do what I can to help, pray to accept life’s confusing fusion, and keep on celebrating. 
Thanks be to God.

* “Sophia” is an English version of the name that means wisdom. Wisdom is personified in the Bible book, Proverbs, Chapter 8, so some of us use it as one of many names for God.

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