This week I am attending a writing workshop in Collegeville, Minnesota, home of St. John's University. SJU is host to the Collegeville Institute, an center devoted to ecumenical relationships and cultural pursuits. The Collegeville Institute offers hospitality, space and resources to writers, from those with little experience to great writers on spiritual subjects like Kathleen Norris and Parker Palmer. Here you can learn more about the work of the Collegeville Institute.
I applied for this workshop, funded by the Lilly Endowment to improve my writing. Blogging has reaquainted with me with my love for writing. Now that I am in the habit, investing time and money into my writing is more worthwhile. I want to improve my work. I've been blessed to have a few articles published over the years. Writing is growing as an opportunity for ministry, especially with blogs and other easier avenues to publish writing and connect a message with people. Below is a piece I wrote to address an assignment to work with metaphor. It's not my typical writing, but I'm glad to be stretched in the craft. Your comments are appreciated.
I laugh at weather forecasters, not because of their tenuous relationship with preciseness, but because of their blatant persecution of cloudiness. The only way clouds are depicted positively is when children lie on their backs and see animal shapes in clouds; when farmers pray on their knees and ask for moisture on crops; when mayors hope in their hearts for a break in the heat wave to stave off death.
Clouds are my companion: sometimes they sit with me, sometimes they move with me, sometimes they share moods with me. Clouds are my frame: they provide a landscape for sunshine, an inkling for stormtracks, a shield for brilliance. Clouds are my comfort, surrounding me, covering me, resting me. If the clouds go away for a time, I gravitate toward my basement to find my center—a dark place, a cool place, a shielded place. It is in that darker place where the light is limited that I can ponder the wonders of the cosmos, find my place in the universe and eventually meet my path back to see the radiance of the sun, if but only for a few moments, yet never fully.
I see value in the sun, I appreciate the sun, I love the sun, but I cannot stand in the full glory of the sun; too much sun hurts my eyes, hurts my head, points to death. In the attic of my memory my mother once walked on the path to death with melanoma. She lived. I am thankful, yet careful. I look toward the sun with wonder; I do not look toward the sun with contempt.
When considering my return to Minnesota, fearful of the brilliant sun that bordered on oppression that I once knew, I wondered as much about the weather as I did the writing. Will the clouds elude me? Will the rain nourish me? Will the sun insult me? I found peace and retreat looking at the lakeshore this morning, thankful for the gift that the full brilliance of the sun was accompanied with the grace and companionship of the clouds.