I spent the best part of an hour obsessively wandering through town from shop to shop and from the mall to downtown (such as downtown is, which is not much). I was trying to put together a note-taking package that would fit comfortably in my purse. It took me several stops, but I've got it assembled now: an el-cheapo zip-up personal organizer from Big Kitty's, a pack of four-by-six inch index cards from the old stationery store, and a nice new pen from the new stationery store. I have unwrapped the index cards and bound them up again with a rubber band, and now the organizer sits in my overloaded purse, ready for Inspiration. I gather that this is a typical writerly thing to do.
The time has come, you see, to start in on another book. The prospect has my matronly tum tied up in knots. The last time I wrote a book (Sabbath Blessings don't count), the experience was somewhat like being dragged through a bramblepatch backwards, twice. Or possibly it was more like having a root canal without anesthetic. It was much worse than childbirth, because it went on a whole lot longer and I'm still not quite sure I like the results. And now I've got to try to do it all over again. Hell of a way to make a living, I can assure you. Not surprisingly, my anxiety levels are through the roof: hence obsessing about my note-taking package.
If we are made in the image of God, I have to wonder: did God get his heavenly knickers in a twist when he set about creating Creation? Did the divine tum get twisted into knots at the fear of all the work and worry and uncertainty that lay ahead? I don't think so. We may be made in the image of God, but it's not an exact image. I don't even know what the first words of this book may be, much less what's going to emerge at the end. God, on the other hand, isn't bound by time as we are and can move forward and back in time like a bead on a string (assuming, that is, that God's time is two-dimensional, not n-dimensional, what a thought). And so: yes, I do believe that God knew, from the very beginning, how it was all going to turn out, and could therefore get on with Creation with nothing but joy.
Knowing how it's all going to turn out is not, however, quite the same as controlling the action. Any notion we ever had that God foreordained the whole of Creation, micromanaging it all so that (for example) Mary was preprogrammed to say "yes" to the angel--any notion of that must have died with the Holocaust. It is not possible that a good and loving God could have planned the horrible humiliation and death of so many millions of innocents, or of any innocent at all, for that matter. I can't even believe that this is mystery, one of those things that we humans can't "get" because it's too big or too difficult for our tiny minds. I've come to believe that God restricts Godself in action, because those three wild cards--biology, physics and human free will--have to play themselves out for the pattern to work.
Of one thing, however, I am completely sure: God did not create the modern publishing industry. Or if God did, God is not good, or even sane.
I have to choose every word in my book; I have to set up the sentences and bind up the paragraphs and put my arguments in order. But I know that if I'm lucky, if I'm open to it, some of the bits of my book will write themselves and I'll just do the word-processing and a light edit. That's how it works when I get lucky. I wonder if God's creativity is that effortless--that Creation just pours from God like water from the rock? It's a lovely image. Maybe God can't help being creative, because creativity--when it's going well--is such joy, and that's what God is, joy.
And creativity when it's not going well is such suffering. God's like that too. Having given up control, God took on the suffering of the helpless, or so I believe. I could, of course, be wrong. Maybe others are blessed enough to get to see God up close and personal; I seem to have to make do with the second-hand evidence.
I will have to write the book in essay form because I don't have the energy or attention span for anything longer than about 3,000 words. Unlike God, or even better authors, my staying power is deficient. Therefore I have only admiration who can go on at so much greater length and complexity than I can manage. I can only look at Creation and be flabbergasted by the power, the size, the spread of it in space and time and be most humbly mindboggled by it. Why can't we spend more time looking up, down and around ourselves at this lovely world that we've been set in? Why can't we regard the intricate curves of an infant's ear and let go of whatever need we ever had for power or revenge? How can we claim to be right and loving when we inflict such cruelty on others? We disrespect Creation constantly, usually because we're worshiping some god other than God. And that leads us into dusty, bloody places: the Middle East, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, the rubble of the WTC. What God made was good. What we've made of it, on the other hand, hardly bears inspection.
Back to the dailiness of things... Somehow, in spite of my fear and anxiety--knickers thoroughly knotted--I am going to have to reach down into experience and come up with this book, one piece at a time, starting with these index cards in a cheap organizer. I did buy a decent rollerball pen, though.
I got stopped partway through this piece and grabbed an index card and put down a few notes: a connection between a priest named Martha and a bit from Jeremiah and a point I wanted to make. This note may, perhaps, become the foundation of an essay, although I have no idea where it will turn up in the book, assuming that there is a book.
It's a start.
(for the Divine Miz T. and for Linda)