Ray Bradbury once said, If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life.
I’ve been writing with some sense of intentionality for the last 3 years but up to this point, I’ve never exercised the discipline necessary to write every single day. Most of us who fancy ourselves writers get into this strange and difficult world with idyllic dreams of perfect words falling out of us, easily and gracefully. But then we actually start to write and find ourselves staring at blank screens, pouring ourselves more cups of coffee than we need and critiquing our friends’ Facebook posts, just to keep busy, just to keep moving, anything but the wrestling required to discover the very next word.
From what my more seasoned and skilled writer friends tell me, good writing is like yoga. It will stretch us in ways we first feel as though we shouldn’t be stretched. But done daily, we will find ourselves stronger, more flexible, more capable than we ever thought we could be.
So, here goes. I’m going to commit, publicly, to writing for the next 30 days. Every. Single. Day.
This sounds like child’s play to some but for me it’s daunting. I feel too small for it so I know it’s a good place to start. Some days it may be a hundred words. Some days it may be a thousand. I really have no idea. The only thing I know is that I will wake up a little earlier, open my laptop, and type away every morning for the next 30 days. Because of the rhythm of my life, I will write Monday-Friday and take the weekends off. Each day, I will choose a word that holds some significance in my life and faith and share a few thoughts.
It seems fitting that on this first day of 30 Words in 30 Days, I should start with the word…
In the beginning, God spoke and there was light. In the original language, the phrase from Genesis 1v3 that we most often translate, Let there be light, is actually just two short words. A more literal translation is, Be light. God speaks these brief words and suddenly it appears – that which gives life to all living things on the planet, that which enriches the earth and warms our skin, that which wakes us each morning and provides us reprieve from the darkness of night – light. The creation story reveals that when the earth was formless and empty, there was already darkness over the surface of the deep. Darkness existed before creation. The turning point hinges on the words of God. He speaks and light enters where there was once only darkness.
In the beginning of John’s Gospel, we are reminded of the Genesis story:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1v1-5 [NIV]
Word. Beginning. Life. Light. The allusion to the creation narrative is emphatic. And it all begins and ends with a word. The Word.
I’ve been told that English was not my first language, although I can’t remember the time when it wasn’t. I’ve been told that my first words were Korean but I’ve since lost touch with my native tongue. My mother sent me to Korean language school on Saturday mornings for a time when I was young. I hated it. I fought it. Finally, she relented and stopped making me go. Now, twenty something years later, I regret it. I should’ve kept going. When I attempt to speak to my mother in Korean these days, I am well aware that I sound like an overgrown second grader. It’s embarrassing and hilarious and sad.
But my poor handle on the Korean language has taught me something about the weight of words. Struggling through syllables and syntax, scrambling to figure out what means what – the effort required to say even the simplest things in Korean has taught me that words are heavy. They are large and significant and meaningful. Like in the Genesis story, they hold the power to create. I often have thoughts I want to share with my mother that stay locked in the chamber of my mind because I do not have the words to release them. They are well intentioned ideas that lay dormant in the land of the hypothetical because I do not have the words to bring them to life.
The human story, like the Genesis story, was full of darkness before it was full of light. Sin and shame was the dominant language until a new Word was spoken. Restoration and healing are no longer hypothetical pipe dreams or well intentioned ideas. They are present and future realities because the Word was spoken.
This is the power of the Word. And it is the power of our words. With our words we can restore and heal. We can bring light where there is darkness. We can reveal the present and future reality of new life, full of hope and joy and peace. Our words can do that.
So, today, choose your words wisely.