Why I Write

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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I began to write when I was 23 because I was lonely. I filled my longing with poetry and the muse. The more I wrote, the greater my purpose to write. I wanted to share my vision of happiness with people, and I wanted to entertain.

Fred Rogers, the man many of us knew from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, asked me one day while we were visiting Henri Nouwen in Toronto, Canada: "Do you ever feel the presence of the Holy Spirit inside you when you write?"

No one had ever asked me to connect creativity and God. While I suspected the connection existed, I avoided it. Actually I feared it, for I did not want to be considered a religious writer, and I didn’t want to admit that I felt a power beyond my own talents infusing creativity into my mind and pen. Artists like to pretend that they acquired their talents on their own; plus I knew, I just knew, my own reality of a true calling to a vocation.

I told myself that I became a writer because my mother and father wrote, because I was lonely and needed a diversion, and because I was arrogant and I could do it. In reality I became a writer because God made me so.

When I write, I feel as if I enter a world beyond the ordinary wind blowing and cars passing before my window. When a child jumps into the lake water in summer, he yells with glee. When a man and woman exchange marriage vows, they sense a grace and spiritual upheaval that they identify as love, but in reality, could probably claim as God’s whispered "This is good." When we bake bread, cut the lawn, visit a museum, we find again and again a sense for it all, a feeling that we cannot identify but know just the same. It is probably God.

That is what I feel when I complete an essay or write a poem. For me, writing is exchanging vows with those I love: my readers. For me, when I write I feel as if I am jumping in the cool lake, holding my father’s hand as we yell together. Writing poetry is as luxurious as moving from painting to painting in the great museums and feeling what we feel when we glimpse beauty.

The great poet William Butler Yeats once wrote, "For everything that is lovely is but a brief, dreamy kind of delight."

God calls us to that delight. Our mortal lives contain bits of time and offer us glimpses of paradise. If we recognize the beauty, we step away with a sense of God’s love and promise of hope and salvation.

"A writer tries to help people recognize God’s beauty," I said to Fred, and he said, "That is good."
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