Books on Culture: A Million Little Ways, Part Three

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The world here is resting in gray and white and brown.

It seems like it’s been resting now for far too long, and surely it’s time to get up already. I remind myself there’s, “[S]till movement in this waiting,” as Emily P. Freeman says in A Million Little Things: Uncover the Art You were Made to Live, “though it may be hard to see.”

Life still thrums deep under deep.

In section 3, Freeman asks us to show up to life as a poet, believing God wants to come out. We’re to show up as we are, where we are. She reminds us, though, to acknowledge our limitations and accept them as the gifts they can be—to help us draw boundaries and show us what our passions aren’t. She talks about how we need to offer our art back to God in the presence of others—remembering that we “are not asked to manage the outcomes. You are simply asked to come out.”

Sometimes it takes a little experimentation to find out what our passions aren’t.

“As you embrace your unique image-bearing identity, you are becoming more fully yourself. That means you have an awareness of what is most alive within you and can now offer it up to God,” writes Freeman.

I often drive past a house where, during other seasons, the yard explodes with changing colors. I imagine the homeowner on her knees, coaxing life to unfurl from the depths of the dirt.

My grandfather planted a huge garden every year. Then toward the end of the summer, he left for fish camp and left his offerings for the neighbors. My dad’s inherited some of his gift.

Me? I can kill a cactus.

Every so often, I attempt a garden, but the weeds overtake everything, and I have to push through them to pick up half-rotten tomatoes from the ground. Clearly raising veggies (or flowers) just isn’t my thing. So I’ve let the grass grow over the plot and chosen to feed off the offerings of others.

When I was a kid, there was this stand in the woods behind our house and down the “fire trail” a ways. We called it a salt lick. I don’t remember it ever holding salt, but I used to climb on it and use it as a stage. I’d sing out loud and pretend I was Patti Page or Connie Francis. I used to sing in the choir and could sometimes hit a high A, but God has not created this poem to warble for others.

We bought a piano right after we married, and I took lessons for over a year. I envisioned my fingers flowing over the keys. I would create beautiful melodies, maybe play in church.

Later, I bought a hammered dulcimer thinking I’d follow in my great-grandfather’s footsteps, and then I bought a harp because I saw myself playing, or at least “noodling” for the dying.

I gave away the piano. I gave away the dulcimer. I sold the harp.

God apparently did not make this poem to inspire others through an instrument.

It’s taken me over 60 years to embrace what’s been wound tight inside me, what thrums within me that I care most about. That’s a long time to wait. But I’ve finally figured out God has created this poem to wrangle and release words.

Still, maybe this spring I’ll sink a couple of tomato plants and some fresh basil, perhaps some zinnia seeds, and see what happens.

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On Monday afternoons in February, we're discussing Emily P. Freeman's A Million Little Ways. To join the discussion, leave your link below or just jump in in the comments! The winner of last week's giveaway is Monica Sharman. Congratulations, Monica, I'll be in touch! Next week Glynn Young leads us in our final discussion of Part Three: Release the Art You were Made to Live, chapters 11-12. I hope you’ll join us!

Sandra Heska King wrangles and releases words from the 150-year-old-plus farmhouse where her husband grew up. Connect with her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Image by Tim Miller. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.