That art should be so elusive is deeply mysterious. In many respects it seems so straightforward. What art demands of us has remained constant down through the centuries--that we slow down, observe, contemplate, court quiet, practice stillness, live as if we have all the time in the world, knowing full well that we don't.~Richard Russo (from The Destiny Thief--Essays On Writing, Writer's And Life)
I spied the white rectangle in a shadowy corner of the parking garage as I walked to my car. When I got closer, I saw that it was an old cassette tape, streaked with mud, a wrinkled label coming unglued from its surface that read Staying The Course. I almost threw the tape in the trash bin, but took it to my car. I held the tape in my hands and read the title again, that phrase a kindness, a gentle touch there in that noisy concrete building.
But I wasn't staying the course. I'd ended the week lying on my couch, consumed with exhaustion from the day's chaos and experiencing shame after eating too much sugar. All I had energy for was watching a movie, and even then, I didn't know if I'd be able to stay awake. I was intrigued by the film's title, Nostalgia. I was not disappointed. I did not fall asleep. The movie contained many of the themes that intrigue me--time, memory, paradox--the reality that we humans have the ability to transcend loss and pain--that we are at once frail and resilient. After the film I felt revived by its beauty, my feelings of shame diluted. God's gift to me. Art as breath.
This morning I felt as if I needed to "court quiet." I came to my study in the spirit of a child, folded hands, my head bowed. "God," I prayed. "I crave your stillness, your living water. Your restoration, your intimacy, your affection. I am parched." I could almost feel His breath upon me, inflating me once again, my shame not only diluted, but dissolved. I would not give up at work. I would keep "practicing stillness" to help me continue pursuing the art of writing. I would forgive myself for eating so much sugar and begin again. I would stay the course.