Returning to My Roots

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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  1. I love the following lines: “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.” I often take pictures of the rainbows, and my photos never do them justice 🙂

  2. Love, love, love! Thank you for sharing what is real! Prayers of wisdom and strength for you. Prayers of love!

  3. I’ve been looking for you, and Truth does prevail and touch hearts (it has touched mine). As you say, emerging now is not easy, but I am glad you are doing it. So glad that God blessed you with the rainbow just when your heart cried out. Faith sustains us, even when we walk through times when we just can’t see it, and appears so brightly when we need it most. Thank you for sharing it all with us.

  4. Ruth,
    Thank you for continuing to write. Thank you for sharing pieces of yourself with us. My heart goes out to you while you are going through this difficult time. I’ve learned so much from you about teaching writing and being a writer over these past few years. Thank you for all that you do. Take care of yourself.

  5. I am thankful that you write about the good and the hard.
    I am thankful that you write from your bones.
    I am thankful that you write openly about your faith in our Jesus.
    My heart has been touched by your words wherever you write – blogs and books.

    Folks have many different reasons for blogging. My mom, sister and cousin are really the only people who read my words. But it’s okay, because I know I am saving memories for my children. And you taught me on TWT, when I found that bog years ago, that teachers are better teachers when they write. Thank you.

  6. Lord,
    I carry Stephanie to you with her Mom and family.
    You heal. You comfort. You strengthen.
    Guide them to answers and may Stephanie’s faith in You continue to strengthen and flourish.
    Thank you, Jesus. When we don’t have the words, we can just say Your name.
    Tis so sweet to trust in You, Jesus.

  7. Your words are beautiful and so heartfelt, Ruth. You are in my heart and I will carry your words in my heart as well. ❤️

  8. Ruth, wow. You don’t just touch the human spirit, you find, surround it, embrace it, and then that spirit takes on a life of its own. Take care of yourself. So glad you got the rainbow. Yes it is love, but I always heard that it was God’s opinion that the world should go on and that the rainbow would be our reminder that He is always there for us. Breathe and believe.

  9. Ruth, these words and photos take my breath away. Seeing a post from you makes my heart happy, even though your heart is heavy with current challenges. I refuse to believe that blogging is dead, especially since your writing has nurtured so many of us and encouraged us to write our stories. Thanks for sharing what is knocking on your heart. Sending prayers, and hugs, and faith to you.

  10. Thank you for keeping the comment button, your readers need that outlet to let you know that your words matter. I understand the hibernation (kind of in that place with you). You have been on my mind and in my prayers. I so agree with Ramona, seeing a post from you made my heart happy. Hugs!

  11. I’ve been thinking of you and yours every day, Ruth, wishing that there were words that would ease your burdens a little bit. I’m guessing that that rainbow did more than words to lift you up a bit, and perhaps now these loving comments. Wishing goodness for everyone, and some rainbow spirits for Stephanie, too. I have no easy answers from my own past days, except one step at a time seemed to help, & I did kick that garage door once in a while.

  12. Hi. I’ve been away from the Celebrate posts for a while and am happy to be back. I’m grateful for the rainbow too – that it spoke to you. I appreciate your writing and the way you’ve made space for so many voices to join you. Thank you. I also have no answers, but know there are many who are glad to read your words and who are happy to join you in the journey.

  13. Thank you for these heart felt words. You continue to encourage me – and others I am sure – to write despite the times ofneeded hibernation. I will hold these words to heart: “writing raw and real matters and stories matter, even the stories that aren’t going how we want them to go. ” Thank you

  14. Your words matter! I was introduced to your book, Enticing Hard-to-Teach-Writers this summer through Millersville University and absolutely loved it! I love how open and honest you are and we need more people like you in the world. Keep the faith and continue to write your story!

  15. Ruth, your writing friends gather round you and celebrate the reunion. I have been patiently waiting for your return, knowing that sometimes life is just too difficult to write but your faith has surfaces once again, this time as a sign from heaven. The splendor of prayer answered in real time is so touching, so amazing a prospect, and for you a reality. May God bless your family and especially Stephanie now that she is undergoing concerns. I was drawn to your site today as always when I celebrate life. It feels like a bonding experience seeing your words and reading what the community has to say. Many thanks for your braveness showing through your words.

  16. I’m saying a prayer for you all. Your words are so beautiful, inspiring, and important. They have definitely altered my thoughts on family and life and writing. I’m so glad you’re doing it, even when it’s hard.

  17. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this post show up on my feed on my blog. You have been missed.