Dear reader, I am sad to report that this will be my farewell column.
In case you’re wondering, I haven’t been sacked or joined a commune. I’ve just decided it’s time to turn the page.
I have enjoyed telling you my stories and sharing my thoughts, and you have been so kind to indulge me. I will sorely miss it, and I thank you sincerely.
Ever since I started, I’ve clipped these columns from the paper every week and stuffed them into a file folder.
When I lift that file, it has a satisfying heft and girth, and its yellowing irregular sheaves are like the days of my life: some of straw, some of brass, some of silver, and some of gold.
In my experience, words are powerful, but only if you don’t use too many of them. Holding that file, so full of words, makes me think I’m near that tipping point.
The thing is, writing about life and living it are two different things. To paraphrase an author whose name I’ve long since forgotten, “Writers live at a strange adjacency to reality.”
It’s true, not just for “serious” writers, but for newspaper columnists and bloggers and journal-writers as well. We can get so invested in recording impressions that nothing impressive ever really happens.
If we aren’t careful, the people of my tribe may live more through words than deeds, which, if we’re truthful, isn’t really living.
At some point we have to blow out the candle and cap the inkwell and go live among the pots and pans and blood and sweat of life swirling all around us.
Years ago, a folk duo called The Indigo Girls wrote a song called “Hammer and a Nail,” the chorus of which sums up nicely what I’m trying to say:
“Gotta get outta bed, get a hammer and a nail/ Learn how to use my hands, not just my head/ I think myself in a jail/ Now I know a refuge never flows/ From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose/ Gotta see to the earth if you want a rose.”
Words don’t get you roses. And as a person of faith, I’m convinced that the life for which we were born is one from which roses should bloom. If we are formed, as I believe we are, by a Creator, then the life most fit, most abundant, and most peaceful, is one in which we join in creation.
The late Catholic theologian Raimon Panikkar observed, “I am one with the source insofar as I act as a source by making everything I have received flow again – just like Jesus.”
And so farewell, and happy flowing.