Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Morning Thanks--Ideas

"Writing with faith," the novelist Ron Hansen says somewhere in A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction, "is a form of praying."

That’s an idea I certainly wouldn’t have thought of, especially these days, having just finished a novel (for the third or fourth time!), a story I've been trying to get right for a decade at least, a story that just about sapped the life out of me. If Ron Hansen is right, that novel was one long prayer--and it's probably still not finished.

Call me Thomas because most of the time I’m writing a story, I'm not thinking about the Lord God almighty; I’m just trying to find the best way out of a story.

No matter. This morning Hanson’s quote is gratifying, as well it should be to a fool like me, because I certainly do count myself among the idiots who believe that believers who write are just about always trying to juggle those 
two "professions" without undervaluing either—prayer and writing.

But I don't think I'm not totally on board with Mr. Hansen. When I'm in the middle of a story, I'm not talking to God, not really. I'll grant you that there is a good measure of pure mystery in the whole writing process, something almost zen-ish in the unforeseen way things come to fit together: characters surprise you, plots twist in directions you hadn't anticipated. There are moments--and they're the great ones--when you're so delightfully surprised that you can't help but wonder who on earth (or elsewhere) is directing your path.

But it seems to me we could expand Hansen's definition to plumbing and having faith—or gardening or factory work or teaching and having faith—to the believer's soul almost any profession can be thought of as a worthy form of prayer too. A farmer friend of mine once told me, guardedly, that people who don't put seeds in the earth don't know God. That's harsh sentiment, but I know very well why he says, especially right now in early spring, that time of year when the lifeless backyard beckons any time the temperature jumps above forty degrees. Right now, I'm dying to get my writer's hands dirty again, but I'm not sure planting tomatoes is prayer, is it?

Maybe Hansen would say every moment of the life of a believer is a prayer.
If God can translate the penitence of our groaning bones into prayer—King David says as much—then why not the clicking of these plastic keys or the slash of spade into good black dirt. Maybe it’s all prayer for those of us who believe.

Don't know if I believe it really, but I certainly like it.

This morning, as always, I’m thankful for good ideas. I think that's a prayer

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