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Jes is away on vacation for the month of August and is happy to introduce to you Grace Miguel Cipriano. I first met Grace through a brochure from Western Theological Seminary where she was pictured for shaving her head in solidarity with Dr. Todd Billings. I thought “I got to meet this woman!” Grace reached out to me through my blog and inquired about doing an internship with us. She has been with West End Collegiate Church the entire summer and let me tell you, a church will be very blessed to welcome her as their pastor someday!
What is it about handwriting? I delight in sharpening a pencil and running my hand over the smoothness of a page, right before I begin to work.
There is something about writing by hand that has captured my attention since I was very young. I get excited over cursive writing, enjoy the neatness of manuscript writing, and even dabbled in writing in all uppercase one year in high school. (It didn’t go over too well with my teachers.) When I get writers block, one sure way to begin to dislodge said block is to swirl my hand onto paper and see before my eyes, letters, words, and then thoughts form with a fluidity that whatever kept me from writing before– I no longer seem to remember.
On the other hand, there is a quiet intention you must have when you write by pen or pencil. The speed of your thoughts must slow down enough to catch up with the mechanical work of your hands. Your words hold weight. Your mind has delved deeply and your dexterous fingers have come up and captured what was within. A mind-body connection, if you will.
Writing by hand lends itself to ruminating. It is also a short trip to praying. When it is difficult to pray, I have cherished copying down quotes, bible verses, and poetry. When everything seems to be jumbled up in my head, a calm descends when I write the words of an author that has somehow disclosed back to me the wondering of my own heart. This week, head to the beach or park, break out the old fountain pen or brush the pencil sharpenings away, and write, pray, and inhale with one breath.
Here is what I have handwritten this week:
“Dich Wundert Nicht Des Sturmes Wicht”
You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.
The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit;now it becomes a riddle again,
and you again a stranger.
Summer was like your house: you knew
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered
Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.
-Rainer Maria Rilke