When you’re weary…
Go to the river. Where the cottonwoods whisper in the wind. Foxes hunt all sly and unseen. And deer drink and then disappear. Sometimes you just want to disappear. Just sometimes.
I’ve been going to the river a lot the past two weeks. I need it. I kind of hit a breaking point. A little bit like five years ago. But not nearly as bad. And I really don’t want to tell anyone about it. Maybe I’ll just half tell it.
I was feeling fragile the day the hummingbird picked a fight with me. I was stripping rotting persimmons from one of our trees on the farm. Something I should have done in December but was too busy trying to finish my book. And prepare for Christmas. And take care of the boys, the house, and the yard. My mind was focused on just getting the persimmons off the tree. Cutting away the dead fruit without thinking about anything else. The little hummingbird buzzed my ear as I worked.
I ignored her. She buzzed my head again and again until I woke from my work trance. When I finally gave her my exhausted attention, she perched herself on a limb right in front of my face. Like, look at me! I’m trying to tell you something! Then she lifted up and oh so gracefully drank from a rotting persimmon.
I was destroying the nectar of her life.
In that moment, God whispered, Others will feed off your wounds. And you will feed off my wounds. And by my wounds you will be healed.
The epiphany stunned me.
I thanked the little hummingbird and walked away from her tree of life with tears in my eyes. The dead fruit was keeping her alive. My failure to strip the tree in the fall was getting her through the winter.
Getting through winter was hard this year. Our blooms froze. Hail hit our orchards. We ran low on money. A hundred things broke. Including me.
I’m really not ready to tell you the long story. The short story is I finally figured out how I write by the seat of my pants. I’ve always thought I was just making most of this stuff up, but after a few counseling sessions with an intuitive writing coach, I came to the realization I write from my wounds.
My novels are filled with jagged pieces of my heart. I kind of knew this already but didn’t want to really see it. Didn’t want to really think about it. Didn’t want to explore the wounds that fuel my stories.
Kind of like living in California all your life without ever seeing Yosemite.
How does a person do that?
How does one not see this magnificent valley just hours away? How does she not know she’s writing out of the valley of her own heart? When I figured this out it wrecked me. I fell apart and Scott took me to a doctor and then put me on vacation. “No more writing for a while,” he decreed. Except for blogs. Scott said I could write this blog post for you.
So instead of writing, I went fishing. And drove to Yosemite with my dear friend, Cherie Stephens who stocks Yosemite’s store shelves with her delicious jam. Cherie’s farmer’s market booth is right beside mine in the summertime. Stephen’s farmhouse is legendary. I thought I was a hard worker, but Cherie runs circles around me. She admits she goes down for a few days from time to time to catch up on her rest. I can see why. She has a booming business. And sometimes the boom gets you.
Behind me runs the Merced River. Booming right now with melting snow. This winding crystal snow-melt gives life to everything in this incredible valley and beyond, down to the orchards and farm fields of central California.
Merced is Spanish for mercy. The Merced River is really the Mercy River. I realized this only because I saw a sign in Yosemite that read, The River of Mercy. “I think I will have to name a book after this river,” I told Cherie as we drove past the old sign and it gripped my heart.
I’ve been spending a lot of days on the Sacramento River. Trying to get away. Trying to quiet my mind. Trying to regroup and recoup and recatch some strength. I’m wiped out right now. Four books in two years has taken a toll. Getting a book done always feels like a huge spiritual battle. Like the last thing the devil wants is for me to put a book out there.
And I’ve come to the conclusion I write to heal myself. And hopefully, bring healing to others. And I can’t. God heals. And I am not God. I can pour it out but I can’t make it happen. But God has offered a river of mercy for all my striving. The blood of his Son, Jesus.
I don’t know when I’ll write another book, but when I do, I really think it will be titled: The River of Mercy. Because I need a river of mercy running through me.
How about you? Do you need mercy today? If you do, I’m praying for you.