Friday, May 21, 2010

Patience is part of the process

I've always been a patient person. My mom remembers how I would wait while she fed my twin sister first. I was 27 when I married and 38 when I gave birth. I saved every penny I earned at a part-time job for a year-and-a-half as a down payment on our house. However, my patience is wearing thin right now. How much longer do I have to wait?

TEN YEARS ago, I began a journal, prompted by an art coach. As a former journalist, I'd never considered keeping one. Diaries are a waste of time, I thought. I just wanted the facts, not someone's bothersome musings. One Christmas when I received a chained-and locked diary, I opened to the middle, scrawled the words "I murdered Sid," replaced its golden security system, ditched the key and let it sit, hoping someone would find it years later and want to unravel the mystery.

But in this art workshop, we were strongly nudged to begin writing about our art. Seemed simple enough and, after all, I was a rule follower and wanted to remain in the instructor's good graces. I did what I was told. Slowly it opened a path to my soul because my art expressed the things that really mattered to me. Had I been asked to do that initially, I would have balked. Interestingly, I stumbled upon Quakerism about the same time and learned that Quakers have journaled for most of their 350-plus-year history. I was in good company.

FIVE YEARS ago, I realized I was keeping a journal for words and another of images, describing similar experiences, events and feelings. I recognized they formed a book documenting my spiritual journey and began to assemble it.

FOUR YEARS ago, I developed two websites as a part of a project for School of the Spirit, a two-year Quaker program for spiritual nurture. One [ ww.turtleboxstories.com ] shares others' experiences of the Divine and the other [ www.salonforthesoul.com ] is undeveloped with the goal to create a virtual place to share our hearts.

A YEAR-AND-A-HALF ago, I took up what I had started and left during my earlier child-rearing years, seeing there were two, distinct books documenting each half of my 40s.

A YEAR ago, in a bold, perhaps ridiculous, move I sent it off to Oprah with a beloved turtlebox* in a beautiful purple package ... hoping to attract her attention. I sent a matching postcard every month for six months asking if it had been received.

FOUR MONTHS ago, I initiated this blog as another avenue for sharing my story in the hopes it helps others share theirs.

TWO MONTHS ago, my Quaker meeting publicly supported what I consider my ministry by sending me to a Quaker publishing conference.

LAST WEEK, I sent my first e-mail query to an agent, encouraged by two very successful Quaker writers.

TODAY, I sent six more.

WITHIN FIVE MINUTES, an agent replied, asking for more,

I needed that encouragement. Writing and helping what I write find the right audience can be lonely work, leading to some doubt. However, I realize snagging an agent is another step in the process, well before publishing ever happens. And I am also open to pursuing other routes. It's just that I want it to happen NOW.

* When I originally wrote a paper for School of the Spirit about people's experiences of the Divine, they seemed just too precious to simply print on sheets of paper. I dreamed up the idea of a beautiful art box, which took the shape of a colorful turtle adorned with trinkets. In some cultures, the turtle represents the bridge between heaven (the shell) and earth (the belly), which seemed exactly what they stories told. Since the original, I have made about 35 turtleboxes.

• What happens when I am patient? And when I am not?
• Have I ever been demobilized by it? Or acted rashly?
• For me, where does the balance between waiting and acting lay?
• How does finding that balance affect my doubt or confidence?
• What role does prayer play?

it's been
my whole

one experience,
feeling and
at a time

me even

not even
when I
began to
the journey

now that
I feel
led to

of waiting

and let
the anxiety

is part
of the

even more

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