Writer’s blocks are debilitating, demoralizing and just down-right depressing. Words get written, erased, re-written and erased again. Sometimes the words don’t come at all, and the computer screen or paper remains blindingly white. So after a week of Bronchitis – another week of “catch-up” (on all those things I ignored while I was curled in a ball coughing) and finally, a week of trying to get back on a “normal” schedule, I decided the best thing to write about was the hidden gifts in all of this.
“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” Prov 3:13
Writing has been my outlet since I was little. When I was little and upset with my mom and dad, I would write letters and stick them where I knew they would find them (a bathroom magazine/book rack was a favorite spot). Being the intelligent, loving parents they were, they never openly acknowledged the venting of their youngest child in a head-on confrontation, but they always found indirect ways to let me know that they had, indeed, found these rambling, often emotional, poorly written outbursts. All the same, they gave credence to these fledgling expressions. Sometimes it was in the topics that we discussed around the supper table. Sometimes it was in the songs that they sang to me as we said our prayers at night. And sometimes, it was just that extra special hug or time spent doing things together that let me know they heard. Needless to say, writing became one of the primary ways for me to communicate with them when topics were too scary to approach in conversation. That’s why the past couple of weeks have been hard. Not writing is almost as bad as a tummy ache…maybe worse. But not being able to write however reminds me that these dry spells can be a gift in disguise. While gifts may be wrapped in our physical DNA and propensity of traits (mom and dad were both writers of poetry, song lyrics, speeches and long, long letters), it is Our Father’s blessing that enhances those gifts and weaves them into a tight package that blesses those around us.
“All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” 1 Chron 28:19
This time the gift was one of receiving. I listened to lots of people talking via blogs, sermons, TED talks, books- even TV shows as I coughed my way back to health (thanks to the blessings science and the discovery of antibiotics). But mostly – I spent a lot of time in quiet reflection. It came at the perfect time (which is exactly the way God works in this crazy world), and while I didn’t realize it at the time (since I was coughing way too much for any kind of logical thought), I needed to be slowed down and reminded about the Author of our gifts. Eventually, it also surfaced to the forefront of my spinning brain that Jewish month of Elul would start soon and in fact – starts yesterday (the 27th of August). In Jewish tradition, this is the month of reflection – a looking back – a taking stock of the good and bad things/choices that have transpired over the past year. The shofar echoes across the land as a physical reminder leading His people into the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.
“Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly.” Deut 16:18
In Hebrew this last verse is written in the singular tense. Rabbis believe this is because it is not just written for the nation, but in fact, is written for the individual as well. It is a reminder that as we reflect upon this past year, we should “appoint a judge” to evaluate our performance and also set “officials” over the gates that need protecting. Common gates such as our thought processes, mouths, eyes, ears, etc. must be protected so that the next year will be much better than the previous year. In other words, Our Father is encouraging us to “judge” ourselves and guard the gates to His temple that resides within each and everyone of us.
“I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” Ps 132:3-5
As usual, David – the shepherd, the warrior, the king, the husband, the father, the sinner, the passionate, creative poet – says it best, and I wonder if he wrote it during the month of Elul because it is so reflective. What better goal could I set for the coming holy days than this? I [will] find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob…