Dear Writer - Let’s go camping
Over the next few weeks, I plan to share a series of letters written to a writer. Or perhaps more accurately, written to anyone following their calling. Which is all of us. When this letter finds you, know it's for you. My prayer is that it encourages and inspires you, and reminds you that the work you are doing is good and holy.
We went camping. The kind of camping that involves a camper complete with bathroom and running water. But before I tell you about the actual camping trip, I need to share about everything we did to get ready for camping. Did you know it’s a lot of work to go camping?
There’s the list-making, the meal planning, the shopping, and preparing of the food, the packing of everything you think you would need for cooking, sleeping, eating, and living outside for a few days. Inevitably, there’s always something (you know like toothbrushes or swimsuits) that get left back at home and frequently it’s too late to turn around once you’ve realized what’s missing.
I watched my husband pack the truck and the camper, and before we even left our driveway he was sweating! Throughout the loading process the kids were jumping up and down, asking, “Are we ready yet?” and running up and down the length of the camper. Stephen checked his list one final time, looked to see that the camper was attached properly, and locked the doors. Finally - after what seemed like days of preparation and planning, we were ready to leave.
Besides the lack of toothbrushes for the kids and the need to improvise a swimsuit for my husband, the work that was done before we left was needed. It allowed us the ability to rest and relax while we were camping. I think that’s an important reminder for writing and following our callings, too, don’t you think?
There’s a lot of prep work that goes into our work, and sometimes it may feel like we’re not getting anywhere because everything we’re doing seems to be in preparation for the “thing” we need to be doing. There may be a lot of unseen work that causes us to wonder if any of it is worthwhile. But the “thing” is the preparation - it's the thinking and dreaming and planning for what is to come. It’s the time spent rolling up our sleeves and laying out where we’re going. So that when it’s time to do the work (or play) we’re ready and have (almost) everything we need to do the work that’s calling us.
At the campsite with two small children there’s not a lot of time spent on one activity. They want to go for a walk around the campsite and then throw some rocks in the water. They’ll see a trail and want to follow it until they’re hungry and ready for a snack. They want to help light the fire and set the picnic table, but then see their ball and start playing catch. It’s no wonder we’re all tired by 11 am in the morning. Yet, when I look back on our days camping I see scenes of small adventures that make for a full day. It’s the small things that really are the big things. I need to remind myself of this when I sit down to write (or scribble a note on a receipt) and only manage to get a few sentences written. If I look back after a week’s worth of writing, those small scrap pieces make for a lot of words.
We went to the beach and let the sand squish between our toes. Swimming on our backs we watched the hawks soar through the sky. Each time a boat passed we laughed as the waves rushed to us. My son, Isaac, wanted to make a sand castle. He put the sand in his bucket scoop after scoop. When the bucket was filled to the brim he flipped it over with the help of his daddy and wide-eyed watched the sand crumble to the ground. Without wasting any time he picked up his bucket and shovel again and kept building. I can’t begin to know all the things that keep you (and I) from doing the work we’re called to do, but I do know that we’re stronger when we keep doing the work put in front of us - even if it seems to be falling apart before our eyes.
Finally, one of the best parts of camping (besides the s'mores!) would be when the kids are sound asleep (finally) and the only sounds come from the insects and lapping waves. It’s these moments that offer the chance to marvel at creation in the beauty of the darkness lit by a vast array of stars. Relaxing back in a camp chair, I take a deep breath and say a prayer of thanks - God, you have written me into being, now help me to write my stories into the fabric of the universe. Amen.