My children returned to school this week.
Monday morning I took their photograph on the front steps and wondered if anything in creation grows and changes faster than a child. Of course, I know the answer is yes, many things.
The dahlias in my flower garden need only one summer to grow from potato-like tuber to five feet of sunset color. Strange mushrooms beside the wood pile require a scant few hours of darkness. The baby ducks my sisters gave me as a birthday gift in late June now wander the yard with a heavy, side-to-side waddle and consume twice as much food one week as the week before.
Right now, the whole world feels shot through with urgency. Zinnias are on a mission to bloom and dry and drop their dusty seeds. The American political landscape has become so tumultuous I hold my morning paper at arm’s length, nervous about what new controversy may have erupted overnight. A hurricane parked itself on the landscape of my childhood and young adulthood, and if I had had a thousand boats I would not have been able to rescue every person I know by name who was watching floodwaters rise.
I can’t keep up. I can’t keep my grip. Not on the children. Or the issues. Not even on the tomatoes growing in my garden. Too many drop to the ground and rot before I can bring them inside. A few more turn to puddles on my countertop before my husband, pizza-maker extraordinaire, can cook them into sauce. But what is a tomato puddle compared with a one-in-five hundred-year flood?
Who has time for small things and slow things when it feels as if the world is spinning faster than ever before?
A world hurtling from grief to grief needs speed and rescue boats. But I have only the slow work of placing one word upon another.
No boats. Only books.
I am writing another book.
In this story, this imagery, and this message, I feel as if I have tapped into floodwaters, and I am so grateful to the folks at Zondervan for partnering with me to shape these waters into something beautiful and meaningful.
But the protracted and plodding work of writing and publishing has left me feeling as if I’ve stepped out of a fast-moving river in order to bury my head in a backwater eddy. Every day, I must remind myself how much words matter.
Speed has a way of devaluing our language. In a crisis, we grab the first word close at hand. We don’t trouble ourselves over nuance or precision.
This is unsustainable, and if we don’t resist, we can undermine our true identity and our purpose in the world.
Who are we? We are those who “have tasted the goodness of the word of God” (Hebrews 6:5).
But too many of us are still hungry. Too many of us have forgotten we were ever invited to feast.
I suppose even rescue boats require time to build. Compared with dahlias and ducklings, boats and books need much more than a single summer. The helpers and rescuers may leap into action, but they do so on boats that have been built and maintained with care. They do so according to plans that have been prepared and practiced over decades.
Rescue is also a kind of discipline.
The world is saved through slow work (raising babies, restoring buildings, writing books). The world is saved through the quick and ephemeral (preaching sermons, delivering water). There is urgency, but it is not for every one of us on every single day.
The world is always spinning, always moving, shifting, and changing. Right now I feel the curl and curve of it beneath my feet, and, occasionally, I stumble.
But for the next few months, I will go on stumbling back to this chair and back to this overcrowded desk. I will do this because I believe when Jesus said “my words will never pass away,” he invited each one of us to root our words (our conversations, our social media posts, our books) in the Word. The same Word through whom all things were made and all things are being newly made.
See! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Even now our language, full of grace and seasoned with salt, is being swept up to play its part in a new creation.
I’m thrilled you are writing another book. I too have relatives that have lost their home and all their belongs. It is hard not being there to help but they tell me not to worry. They are safe and very devoted children of God. They are in Spring, Tx and in their 80’s. Please add them to your prayers. I’ve added all your friends and relatives to my list. God bless you with your book.
I’ve been praying, Janet. I know there is a long, hard road ahead for so many. May God be merciful. May God be near.
I am so very glad to read this news. I will be praying for you every morning as I sit down to my own overcrowded desk and tend to the precision and importance of words.
Here’s to the tending. Thank you, Shari.
Congratulations, Christie! That’s so wonderful!! I love feeding on your words here (and in your memoir), because you have obviously fed on THE Word before you write them. Words are your life, and mine, too, so I understand the necessity (both the urgency and quiet meandering of them). And it’s so vital that we share words of life in all we write (especially these days). Crisis, as well you know, comes from a root word for “sieve.” May the Lord empower your writing, helping you separate out what is beautiful and true and powerful and life-giving. All my best and prayers for this new birth.
Thank you, Lynn. I am grateful for these words and grateful for you. xoxo
So excited. So beautifully shared.
I connect with you in the “I can’t keep up” sentiment. So true. I was just looking for my carved out writing time this fall. It’s less than last year. I met with a social media expert last week to discuss ways I can “grow my platformt” and while I’m going to make some changes and use my time wiser, I can’t keep up. Nor do I want to. I’m not going to post 5 times a day on Facebook to grow my audience. 🙂 Even the slow work of writing feels fast-paced these days. I must be content with the peaceful plodding.
I’m glad you see the importance of writing. I love your words.
“The peaceful plodding.” Oh how I love that. Yes, yes, yes.
I absolutely CANNOT wait sweet friend! Though I know that the slow things that emerge from the connection between your internal and external world are always worth waiting for.
Summer, how do we wait for yet another Christie masterpiece? Hard, huh? And I am awaiting a book from you, too! (or perhaps you have written one already).
Grateful for you, grateful for your words, Summer. xoxo
Congratulations! I’m so excited! Your words are such a balm to my soul, I’m looking forward to another book filled with them!
Thank you, Tammy!
beautiful and wonderful and I cannot wait.
Thank you, my friend. Truly.
Yes to this: “There is urgency, but it is not for every one of us on every single day.” I love your reflections on the world being saved through slow work and the ephemeral. That both of these are important and necessary. Thank you, and I’m looking forward to your book.
Thank you, Patrice. How glad I am that life (and Collegeville!) brought us together.
It’s encouraging and uplifting to read these thoughtful words, Christie. I’ve felt at a loss – feeling my words are so inadequate in the face of so much suffering. It’s so close to us, and yet we’ve been spared – life going on pretty much as usual for us. So I’ve stayed quiet. Your words are so uplifting – so wise. I’ll be praying for you as you write. I’m looking forward to your book already.
Thank you so very much. xoxo
Excited about the new book! nd this has been my spiritual practice lately – to pause before I speak, to breathe before I respond. More challenging than I expected, but proving to be a gift. 🙂
To pause, to breathe. Wise words, Jill. Thank you.
Christy, I loved your first book. As someone who feels as if much of her life is a search for “home”, it really struck me in a deep place. So, I’m v excited to see this announcement and look forward to reading your new book!
Elizabeth, since you are a fellow home-seeker, I do think (hope, pray!) that you will love this book. I have readers like you on my mind as I write. And I am grateful.
This thrilled me. I am among the ‘…many of us [that] have forgotten that we were ever invited to feast.’ Your reminder is full of grace, and gentle. Thank you.
Thank you, Angie. I appreciate your words.
Christie, these words struck a chord, “Speed has a way of devaluing our language. In a crisis, we grab the first word close at hand. We don’t trouble ourselves over nuance or precision.
This is unsustainable, and if we don’t resist, we can undermine our true identity and our purpose in the world.”
So well said. We need your next book, friend. THank you for saying ‘yes.’
Thank you for your constant support and encouragement! I appreciate you. P.S. I owe you an email but know that I can’t wait for your Advent book. xoxo
We have an urgency to be lost in your poetic, wise words but we know we must wait for your new creation to be “born”! I’m so excited for you and for me that you have a new book in progress! Sending you desk blessings that words will flow and pages will fill to cover its already crowded surface!?
What a blessing! Thank you, Cindy.
Excited to read more from you.My favorite season is Autumn. It always fills me with expectation.
Now I can look forward to another good thing.
God is good. Sending prayers for those new thoughts and words.
Grateful for your prayers! Autumn is my favorite, too. Every spring I question that, but then, every year after a long, hot summer, crisp autumn comes around, and I remember that it really is the best. I know winter is hard for some (and I feel that too in February and March), but I think I also love autumn because it is followed by the holidays and by a long winter rest.
Your words have a way of reaching to the depths of my very soul. I’m excited every time I see your post show up in my inbox. I’m more than excited to welcome your new book… can’t wait! I have tomatoes puddling on my counter also… God bless.
Oh, those tomatoes. How I love them/loathe them this time of year. 😉 Thank you for your kind words, Karen. What an encouragement.
Mental note to self…must get a copy of this – you will let us all know the minute it is released, won’t you? . Ive just given away some copies of your last book as gifts!