Posts Tagged ‘tortoise and the hare’

Some people call it writer’s block, but for me,  it’s more like malaise. I looked it up: “a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.” I’ve had it for the last month (or more) and I have put less than 500 words (or prayers) to page. This is not good. I need to get back on some solid ground.

Psalm 40:2
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Here’s a bit of confession: I haven’t felt like writing. It’s a grievous mistake, I know, because writing (like prayer) cannot be done out of feelings alone. It’s a discipline. A persistence. A slogging-on despite the circumstances. My favorite metaphor for endurance and doggedness leaps up: the tortoise of Tortoise & Hare fame. But you see, I have given way to the Hare again, round and round and round I go, no closer to the finish line, and off the path.

Another confession: if I am not writing, you can assume I’m not praying. The two have gone hand in hand for the last several  years and apparently, the Muse has departed, the Spirit hides behind a cloud, and the galloping horse of time has whipped through my apparently delicate balance of personal retreat with both God and Muse and daily life.

It’s not that daily life is a bad thing. I’ve had an amazing number of experiences and involvements over the past six weeks, from travel to Europe to visit extended family to my Navy son visiting for two weeks and second trip out west. Each agenda was full of laughter and joy and healing. I was much blessed. But. . . I took no time alone. Each day I hit the ground running and every minute was loaded. And really, that’s not so bad in itself. I know. But, once I returned to the days and minutes of normalcy and anticipated routine, I had no anchored place or time. I no longer retreated to my favorite chair (or if I did, I woke up an hour later) and I no longer had a plan for study since I just completed my New Testament journey of echoes, prayers, and meditations. Everything has come to a point all at once and, since my way is unclear, I am still standing at a crossroads of sorts. Where do I go from here?

And the worst of it all? When I stop doing something, I tend to forget how to do it. This is most clearly illustrated in a foreign language. Use it or lose it.

To get good at writing, one must write; and to get good at prayer, one must pray. No other way.

I am amazed how easily and quickly I lost my routine of prayer and writing. In the past, I had conquered malaise by keeping track of my time. I know that sounds anal, but it worked! Each time the inner voice of condemnation would attack me because I missed a day or two of prayerful meditation and study, I had facts to shore me up. Sure, I missed a day, but in a year, I’ve gotten it right over 70 or 80 or even 90% of those 365 days. So, “evil voice,” back off! I’m ok.

That pattern  has worked for the last five years.

And in the writing department, I became a great fan of Anne Lamott and her book, Bird by Bird, who encouraged me to start writing, 300 words a day, every day! And I did. I even completed a manuscript that way. But then, the next step was editing and cutting and slashing and changing and re-writing and soon, 300 words could no longer be used as a measure. I faltered. I am once again unsure, beleaguered by another voice or worse, silence. I tried to give myself a little credit, after all, I was still blogging. At least, I was. I did.

Breathe. I gotta breathe here.

Scratchboard by Michael Halbert

Today, a holiday, I woke with the determination that I would count it a victory day over lassitude and melancholy. I would pray. I would write. I would tend to my inner self. So, how did that go: I slept more than anything else with books on my lap and pen falling to the floor, tea growing cold. I lost four hours of my day to malaise, true malaise. Shortly, I must go to the grocery store for dinner. The day is flying by.

And yet, I do have this to show myself. I am sitting here right now. I made it this far. I crept over the edge. And tomorrow, hopefully, I will make the next step.

It’s time to choose. A way.

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I appreciate the Amplified translation of the Bible at times like today, when the words that nudged my spirit were enriched further by this translation and its multiple English equivalents. Consider what it means to have the Word at work within us: a superhuman power.

I Thessalonians 2:13
And we also [especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received the message of God [which you heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the Word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its superhuman power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it].

Two other verses that support this idea poetically come from Isaiah 55:10-11:

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

God’s Word, the message and the man, Christ Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is inside me and part of my being. I invited my God to share both with me. I believe in the Presence and its power to evolve within and to evolve me.

Sometimes I bemoan how slowly I have grown in the things of God. I mean, it’s a little discouraging to think I’ve been at it for 30 years or so and this, this human self, is all I have to show for it. But maybe that’s just the “other voice” speaking condemnation. I know I am far from the perfection that God craves for Human and yet, I am closer now than I ever could have been if I had continued on the first road.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I’d be dead if I had continued resisting the wooing of Christ.

No. My spirit is alive and thriving in my union with the Holy Spirit. OK, so I had a slow start, so what?! We are back to the tortoise and the hare and I’m going to embrace that tortoise part of me again today.

There is a promise that is coming to fruition within me. God’s Word within me is still growing and producing fruit. My life will accomplish what God desires and my life will not return to dust void.

I acknowledge the work of the Word within me. I thank you.

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Tortoise and the Hare It’s not that I don’t know how to race; I’m racing all the time but my goal eludes me. Running, running but I forget to take care of myself along the way; I push myself–a little farther, just a little farther. But when I look down, I discover I’ve been on a treadmill the whole time. I’ve been in the wrong kind of race.

I Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours.

In biblical times, running and racing were standards in sports. Everyone understood this metaphor and, more than likely, understood the emphasis was on preparation, consistency, and endurance. Certainly, fast was good and winning the prize was good, but just running the race required stamina, desire, and perseverance over the long haul.

I don’t think we’re supposed to be running this race just to be first at the gates of heaven. This race is a marathon. And our desire should be to run the best race that we can run as individuals.

I want to run my race with joy. I want to give myself over to the race, but not in a competitive way. I want to learn how to optimize my movements. I want to see the world around me. I want to invite others to join me. I want form over speed.

The tortoise is in the race by choice. The tortoise is not designed to run fast, just steady. The hare is quick but foolish. Who will I be today?

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Here’s what comes to mind before anything else: the tortoise and the hare. This story has, by far, gotten the most mileage in my life… I suppose it’s because I’m the hare trying to learn the lesson of the tortoise. There are lots of spiritual applications, but perseverance is the dominant one. It’s the slow, methodical tortoise who holds fast to his goal. All of the circumstances and “common sense” say that he will lose the race and yet he wins. He’s good for the long haul. He knows how to keep on going no matter what. This is just one more paradox in Christianity and all true.

And let us not forget, this perseverance is grounded in the other elements of our plan to not fall away: self-control, knowledge, virtue & faith. I’m thinking that some of us “hares” are trying to do the perseverance dance without the grounding of the other elements.

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