I write a bit how I live — with some planning and dedication and a whole lot of flying by the seat of my pants. I work in the scraps and snatches of time I can find between the laundry and the school supply shopping, the running through the sprinkler and the trip to the library.
It feels especially true this summer with the elusive search for rhythm and days that pass through fingers and sometimes land in piles at feet. Yes, we’ve got a whole lot of piles around here lately.
If I try waiting until everything’s wrapped up before I write, I never will, and this is hard for me to accept, and it’s an act of faith to make space for words to come when I see so much undone.
I’m gratefully living on the edge of exciting things in this writing life (speaking of which, I should probably finish my magazine article that’s due Saturday), and yet it melds and mixes with the monotony and chaos of my daily. This contradiction feels confusing, and I’m sure I’m not the only mother, writer or dreamer who wonders where on earth she’ll possibly find the space when we need to leave for gymnastics in 30 minutes.
I want to plan and execute my days, take the bull by the horns or put the pedal to the metal, or I don’t know, do something that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end of the day. Really nailed it. Beginning to end. Done!
And then I also want to hold my hands open when I see I don’t really know anything but the mess of imagination in the basement, the almost finished furniture project, the kids talking in my ear as I type, the half-swept floor. All these signs of a full life and imperfect beauty, which I’m coming to think might eventually be my most favorite kind.
For me, writing is a mix of this go forth and conquer and that live full and free, and words and images often live in some unfinished state in my brain, or on my phone. Those photos I take, those words I record on the voice recorder, those lines I tap with thumbs in the notes section of my iPhone — all so I will remember petal, skin, iridescent bubble and the thing she did that glimmered at what she’s made for.
Just the other night, our family dinner conversation had Michael and I swinging our heads side to side like tennis match spectators, and I was laughing in my napkin and trying to will my brain to store it all away. We covered every random topic under the sun, and the girls were all so uniquely, utterly them, and it was chaotic and hysterical. I didn’t grab my phone and record it with thumbs, I just LIVED it and then we were on to the next thing, and poof, it was gone.
I don’t remember a single detail.
But I lived it. And it’s the feeling that I lived something worth remembering that makes me want to both hold tight…and let go. It’s what makes me want to write and tell you about her: “the woman sitting at The Door of Hope.”
I keep coming across her in my notes. She’s the one I saw when I drove by the building ten minutes south of here, sitting on the stoop of a place called The Door of Hope. I don’t know what The Door of Hope does, and I don’t know what brought her there, or why she wasn’t inside. But I continue thinking about how she looked reading her book, more comfortable than I would have expected, back against a pillar, knees pulled loosely to her chest.
It was as if she knew she could enter any moment. Or maybe she’d already gone this way many times.
Tonight, maybe you sit on the stoop or down the road a piece from The Door of Hope.
Maybe you feel you’ve got to finish that thing — the sink of dishes, the budget, the project. Maybe you’ve got to clean yourself up, gather up your skills, get it together before you walk inside.
Maybe you’ve been burned by hope before. Maybe you don’t even know what you’re hoping for.
Maybe hope feels like an indulgence, the dessert after the responsible stuff, a resting place at the end of this drudgery, someday.
Maybe you’re thinking you can craft the something better that’s on the other side before you walk through, if you just work hard, plan hard, do the hard thing.
I’m wondering today if I’ve maybe had it wrong all these years, and hope is more a door, a portal, a right now come as you are, than it will ever be a destination.
Maybe hope is holding tight, maybe it’s letting go. I think it’s probably a bit of both.
I do know we can sit on the stoop as long as we need because the door is always right there.
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Linking up this evening with glorious writers and women, Jennifer and Emily.
[Image above courtesy of studiojru]
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I am tearing up Ashley as you had me thinking of so many folks in different situations and so many situations in my own life that put hope in all the “places” you speak of here…holding tight and letting go ..more than a destination…for me it is alive .. right now..within reach..just like you say..and I can rest in that. Selah.
Oh, Kelly. May you know that rest today, friend.
Hope is the word God gave me on vacation, every day, it was everywhere. And here it is again, like he is holding up a sign everywhere I go. I love this, thank you Ashley, for being you.
How I love when God does that. Thank you, Shelly, for your words here that remind me, too, that hope is everywhere.
The door of hope is only that, an entry point. Once crossed we are on to something else. It only works when we are on the outside, on the edge, anticipating the entryway that lies beyond. Hope by definition, is something yet undiscovered, something we envision for ourselves. Had she entered that door, she would have no longer been visible to you; she’d have moved on to something else. Much as if you’d have taken that time to employ thumbs to phone the very moment you’d be trying to record might somehow have been altered. Instead, you lived it for all it was worth, and “poof!” moved on! “Poof!” is the door of hope
Such an interesting perspective, Don — hope as the envisioned and undiscovered. I love this: “The door of hope is only that, an entry point. Once crossed we are on to something else. It only works when we are on the outside, on the edge, anticipating the entryway that lies beyond.” Perhaps hope is anticipation mingling with living all it’s worth right now.
I have been through door. I needed to find it— desperately. (A word if have used a lot today but not in the same context.) Keep righting in snatches Ashley, you do it beautifully.
Don’t we all desperately need hope. I do feel sometimes like my grabbing at space to write is a bit like my grasping to take hold of hope….maybe that’s why they often feel so related. Thank you for your presence here today, Dea.
Another piece of your writing, I want to read, and read, and read again. I love you. As always, this perspective you share is just what I need to hear! I love how God works!
I do too! So happy you were encouraged!
Ashley, you said it so beautifully for “ALL” of “US”! Well done! And so descriptive of “how it is”!
Thank you, Kelly. As is so often the case, when I started writing I didn’t know where this one was going.
Oh, my goodness, I can’t even begin to pick a favorite line here- I love it all- I needed it ALL- the reminder that the door is open, that hope is both letting go and hanging on, that life is meant to be lived fully, that the crazy-ness of noisy kids at the dinner table and head spinning hard at the day’s end because there’s so much more to do and yet God has done what He wants in the smallness of my day-is the gift. This image of the woman and the door will linger with me. Every time I read your words I feel like I’ve got a soul sister in you- And I’m SO SO SO excited about your writing “on the edge”– I want more details! Praying for you as you finish your article! Where will I read it? Happy writing. Happy summer finishing.
Dear soul sister, I love what you say here: “God has done what He wants in the smallness of my day.” How I need to remember this when there never feels enough of me to go around and I’m so pooped at the end of the day that I crawl into bed before my kids (see last night). My article at SheLoves that was posted Monday was the big one that I was “laboring.” Also have some other projects around the corner — with MOPS and bibledude. Thank you for walking this journey with me. I am so grateful for you.
Oh my friend… I love every word… but this – this is sheer beauty: ” All these signs of a full life and imperfect beauty, which I’m coming to think might eventually be my most favorite kind.” It’s my most favorite kind too!
I love that you lived in the moment without recording it and yet – you know it was recorded somewhere… sowed down deep in your heart and in who they really are!
The Door of Hope… now you know I want to go find this place and photograph is… (does that just contradict what you wrote?)
I know you are a fellow lover of imperfect beauty, Karrilee — just one of the things I appreciate about you. So true about the moment being recorded deep down though not on the screen or on the page…as a writer, I’ve got to keep remembering that.
The Door of Hope is just off Hawthorne on SE 20th. I’d love if you photographed it, and then send me a picture!
LOTS of hope here! And these words . . “it’s an act of faith to make space for words to come when I see so much undone.” Yes! Thank you for the insight to see the faith in the act in the face of the undone . . you’ve redeemed it for me!
Faith is the act in the face of the undone. What a great definition you’ve given us both! Thank you, Kim.
Again. Just mesmerized here by the beauty, complexity, simplicity, wisdom – all the living and breathing- in your words. I keep getting the sense that you are venturing into a new season of living AND writing, of the two being more in sync with each other, and this is so exciting to watch unfold in your words. There is way too much here to point out all the lines I love, but I love where you are standing, friend.
Your words mean so much, dear Amber.
yes!!! oh girl i fear i’m losing the art of LIVING for all the writing. you nailed it here. thank you for this wonderful challenge… love to you. e.
Emily, I’m continually inspired by the way you do both. It is indeed a wonderful challenge to both live AND write well…it seems that at times one or the other needs to take center stage. A friend recently described those times I cannot get away to write and am “simply living” as building up a reserve from which there will be more to draw later. That helped me breathe a little easier. And there’s a way the writing helps me live more fully, too. So it’s complicated. Praying much grace as we walk this out.