I’ve been busy lately. I worked long hours the last two months – along with the editor, Jordan Green, and our web guy, John Whitaker – to get the new Burnside Writers Collective website up and running. We launched on Monday, but there is still much work to be done. I recently completed a couple assignments for Relevant online. I am writing two book reviews for the November/December issue of Relevant Magazine (deadline: next week), and I am working on a 4,000 word journalistic piece for Relevant’s January/February issue (deadline: the end of October). I write occasionally for the BWC. I also do a lot of reading and writing for the On the Narrow Road project. And now I am writing 30 essays for a book that may have found a publisher (deadline: February). All this on top of work and family and community.
I’ve always been process oriented rather than task oriented, but that has changed. It’s strange to see my calendar filled with to-do lists, and frustrating that I never get all the way through my lists. My index finger has started twitching a couple times a day, either from stress or from the massive amounts of caffeine coursing through my veins.
My biggest concern with all this is not that I will grow distant from my family or my community, or that my work won’t get done. Kate, Dave, and my other friends are there to pull me back from those particular paths. No, my primary fear is that I will become alienated from language, my lifeblood, which is to become alienated from myself.
With this on my mind today, I read an interview with Eugene Peterson in the latest issue of Image. Peterson was talking about the poets Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson. Dickinson’s poetry, in particular, which seems spontaneous and less self-conscious, has influenced Peterson as a writer and pastor. “Can I do nothing in terms of publication, publicity, or getting a job done, but instead focus on getting this language into myself – written, spoken, prayed – unselfconsciously?” he said. “If I can, then I’m being honest.”
And so I am instituting a few Sabbath practices starting now. Each day I want to spend at least half an hour reading something just because it’s beautiful; each day I want to spend at least half an hour writing something I have no immediate intention of publishing. Saturdays are my Sabbaths. I won’t publish anything on this blog, On the Narrow Road, or the Writers Collective. I will read a good book, share poetry with Kate and Molly, and write just because I love to write and because that is how I make sense of the world. I need to regularly reconnect with language, and to be nourished by it.