What does one write when the inspiration just isn’t there?
Quite honestly this is rarely a problem for me. After I complete a blog and set the timing for its publication my mind and heart immediately start honing in what needs to be said, what needs to be heard, and what is foremost on our hearts as I prepare for the next week’s blog.
But this week I just haven’t had the same space to let a particular topic ferment in my soul. As you know I spent the first few days of October making a move to an apartment closer to my grandchildren (and nearly $1,000 less in rent). I hadn’t quite finished moving in when I flew down to San Francisco for the three-day synod meeting. I got back just in time for a night of sleep before heading the next morning to Corvallis to represent the presbytery at the memorial service of the Rev. John Dennis who had served at Corvallis, First for thirty-two years. The current congregation and leadership did a lovely job honoring his legacy.
After a wonderful evening celebrating my 60th birthday with family I returned to my apartment for one more day where I emptied a few more boxes, did a load of wash, and prepared to leave for another nine-day retreat at the coast for my DMin intensive. Upon my return from the coast I will have a mere 36 hours to make another turn around before leaving for some work and preaching in Southern Oregon. October has been and continues to be a whirlwind month!
I started this blog simply asking, “What does one write when the inspiration just isn’t there?”
After listing my overly packed schedule during this, the month of October, it seems the message is writing itself. Inspiration generally doesn’t just happen. It requires a certain amount of space and emptiness. I remember years ago when my life was overly scheduled as a pastor and a parent of young children. Sermons never got written until Saturday. But quite often I found myself trying to write the sermon in a small window of time squeezed in between church activities and family responsibilities. I would sit down with two hours just to write and find myself praying, “Okay, inspiration you have two hours to do your thing!” Putting pressure on my inspiration muscle rarely worked. On numerous occasions I remember that I retreated to my home to rake the leaves, mow the grass, or do some gardening. And voila! Once I gave myself some space the inspiration found its way from my soul to my head and eventually to the written page.
I admit that I am scraping the barrel this week for a blog topic. I am writing this late in the evening on the Sunday before leaving for my nine-day doctoral retreat. We were encouraged not to bring any work during this period so that we could fully be present to the work and to each other. But despite looking for a little inspiration where there really is none in the short hour I have to crank something out, I think there still is a message here.
I am sure all of you have heard or said at one time or another the phrase, “Don’t just sit there. Do something.” It might have been the Buddhists who first changed that around to make a point when they said, “Don’t just do something. Sit there.” I appreciate this. The truth is most of my blogs are the result of intentionally taking some time every day just to sit. I have a morning practice of nearly ninety minutes where I don’t allow any other agenda except for the Spirit to show up in some form. I know at times I have expressed my delight that I am in a profession that pays me to “look out the window.” The ease with my blogs usually come is directly related, I believe, to the amount of time I carve out every day just to sit.
It’s no wonder that inspiration wasn’t showing up this week. I fit everything into my calendar including a move, an out-of-state synod meeting, an out-of-town memorial, a 60th birthday party celebration, and another upcoming thirteen days out of the office. I crammed everything in but a little space for inspiration to show up.
It’s as if I had stuffed so much into my life and my schedule this month that even God finally said, “Any room for me in there?”
By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades