Returning to My Roots
This picture of my backyard from earlier this week does not capture the beautiful weight of the moment. I stood on my deck and steadied my breathing. The rainbow bridged the north and south while the middle glowed. I looked around and wondered how a rainbow existed without the rain.
It’s a promise of love, the rainbow.
In a world where the dark presses in, sometimes it’s hard to remember the promise of love. I stood, stretching my toes across the floorboards of the deck and allowed the promise of the rainbow to settle into my heart.
“How is there a rainbow when it hasn’t rained?” Sam asked, stepping out the back door.
I shrugged, unable to give energy to words. He positioned his phone to take a panoramic photo. “It’s epic,” he said. There’s no way a picture will do it justice, but I still feel like I should try.”
He followed the horizon to capture the whole of the rainbow. “It’s strange there’s no rain,” Sam said again.
As if cued from the heavens, fat drops plopped on our heads. Sam looked up, squinting and laughing, “There’s the rain. It’s strange it’s coming after the rainbow. It must have been raining over there, and it’s just now getting here. Better go inside,” he said.
I stood alone on the back deck, the drops fatter and falling heavy around me. The rain drops were more cartoon than real. The rainbow more magic than fact. The glow more illusion than certainty.
It was faith alive in my back yard. Moments before, I penned a prayer in my morning journal…
Lord, I am about to lose my mind. Please move and open my eyes so that I can see your movement.
These are not light words. They did not come from sarcasm or humor. They were breathed in desperation. Raw truth that had me scared.
The truth about faith is it doesn’t usually make sense from the perspective of this turning rock called earth. Faith isn’t from this realm. We can try to explain it, try to capture it in words and box it up, tying it with pretty ribbons and holding onto it like we have it all under control. That faith, the one that is solely based on things we can understand and comprehend, will crumble under the hard weight of life.
The rainbow stood in my backyard, unapologetic that it didn’t make sense to me. As the rain dropped, another rainbow began to emerge, creating a double rainbow in the south. I stood still, with eyes wide opened, watching the formation of the promise of love.
The sky turned dark and the rain fell harder and even though I wanted the rainbow to stay, to be there every time I stood on the deck, I knew it wasn’t the way things work.
It’s usually unseen, faith.
I started blogging more than a decade ago. My roots are humble. I wanted to share the things I was learning about teaching writers with an inner-circle of people around my school who were also learning about teaching writers.
Soon, I discovered that the best way to become a teacher of writers was to write. I collected stories of my life, outside of the classroom. I started blogs just for family life. Some I kept private, especially the ones about faith. I started a blog about teaching writers, with a kindred spirit who at the time lived 686 miles away, and our audience exploded. For years I kept my writing territories separate.
In June 2011, I started this blog, Ruth Ayres Writes. It was based on a stirring in my heart to carve space where I could write whatever was knocking around inside of me. It gave me permission to tell the stories I felt like writing, not just compose blog posts I’m “supposed” to write.
Seven years I’ve written here, until the last three months. I’ve been dormant. I confess to my friend Franki and she says, “It’s inevitable with life.”
When I was little, I felt sad for bears who were forced into hibernation. I felt sorry that they missed months of life. Hibernation is all about conserving energy. Life takes energy. This is true for all of us, grizzly bears and tattered mommas. Bears know they must conserve energy in the winter months and so they enter hibernation. This tattered momma might not be as wise.
I don’t want to miss a moment of all this life has to offer, even the winter months. The biological truth remains: Life takes energy. Sometimes we must learn to conserve energy in order to survive.
Many say blogging is dead. The idea of a blog post being an ancient art form tumbles around my mind. I’m not sure if it is true, but I realize that it doesn’t matter to me.
I am a writer. A blog is a canister for me to collect stories. It’s a place for me to shake ordinary stories and attempt to make sense of the world. There is much that is nonsensical in my corner of the world. There is much that is nonsensical in the whole wide world.
I’ve stood on my back deck many times this week, stretching my toes over the floorboards and steadied my breath. The sky looks ordinary, dull even, but lodged in my heart is the truth of faith that was captured under the rainbow in my backyard.
It is usually unseen, faith…
Yet, there are moments when it becomes obvious.
Perhaps the last three months of being dormant in this space has been a response to a biological necessity of conserving energy, much like hibernation for grizzly bears. It takes energy to learn to tell the whole of my stories — raw and real — so that they’re not just a pretty accolade on social media, nor a pity party for sympathy. Both are a farce of Story.
I stack my stories in hopes of landing on universal truth that gives others the gumption to shine. When I write, I hope others find potency in the truth of my words piled in authentic and raw ways, I hope they find strength to love more, even when it doesn’t make sense. I see now that my commitment to this message is what led to hibernation.
I needed to conserve energy to learn how to still write real and raw about all of the stories exploding around me.
You see, I’m in the middle of a story that isn’t going the way I hoped it would go. I’m in the middle of a story that is ugly and gives little flexibility to stretch for a celebration. Stephanie is not well. Even the specialists are at a loss. The hard stories are heavy, and I’m learning to find my footing so they offer hope, rather than a burden.
I’m also in the middle of remarkable stories where a little boy who spent more time bouncing around foster care than grounded in this forever family is turning into a teenager with strength of character (and biceps) that will take your breath away; of glorious stories of a little girl who has finally grown into a 16 year old who believes she is worthy of love and goodness; of a boy adopted at birth who has held on to his playful spirit and it is evolving to encompass wit and courage and kindness (and even a work ethic) that offers strength to this momma’s heart.
When animals emerge from hibernation, it is not the same as waking up from sleep. It takes a great deal of effort — and sleep, even — to enter the world and function again. I supposed the same will be true for me.
This post is nearly triple the length I prefer. The words are clunky coming off my fingers, and I’m concerned about who might read this and if Truth will prevail. I’m quietly arguing with myself about whether I should turn off comments, because it might be easier to know people don’t have the option to comment rather than wonder if it matters whether I re-enter the blog-o-sphere. I keep telling myself I shouldn’t care because these are not the reasons I write.
Now my argument becomes louder about whether I should delete those last few lines, but the truth is, I do care.
Not about the comments, but about my words touching lives and offering hope in the coarse stories of our lives. Because, I have to believe, that writing raw and real matters and stories matter, even the stories that aren’t going how we want them to go. The world is filled with books that have the perfect ending and social media that chronicles picture-perfect fun, friendships and families, and blog posts that are logical and compelling.
As I emerge from hibernation, I return to my roots and just write what is knocking on my heart.
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