Grief, joy, loss, hope and living with contradiction

happy violinist, by hotblack, compliments of

happy violinist, by hotblack, compliments of

In September, 2015, the rhythm of my days took a radical change. I worried going into the school year what effect the addition of teaching for an hour every day would have on my writing. This, was, I would learn, small potatoes in terms of life changes. I drove home from the first day of school ready to celebrate the return of my children to school and therefore the return of my quiet days. Going here and there and everywhere, cell phones, and blah, blah, blah being not for me. A lonely life at times, but one that gave my writing a chance.  On the way I had a very straightforward car chat with God about the global crisis of displaced persons. I was tired of worrying about it. Tired of feeling sad for mothers unable to protect their children. Honestly, I said. Open the door for me to do something to help, or leave me alone from the sadness of it all.

Within half an hour I received a call about an ad hoc meeting. Could groups of people in our town do something to help the refugee crisis?  It seemed remarkably like a door, so I walked through it.

I managed to keep up with the writing until November when my new responsibilities filled every spare moment I had and some I did not. I finished my children’s novel as a consolation prize of sorts over the Christmas holidays.

I now bathe daily slathered in copious amounts of contradiction. I miss the writing terribly. I try not to remember the blog exists because when I do, I cry. I have faced the fact that the novel is not something a publisher wants (even though my very literate children sincerely love it). I have faced it as in it hurts too much to think about so I don’t. Meanwhile much of my free time remains rather taken with efforts towards helping new families resettle in a foreign land. I would not trade what I am doing. Much of the work is tedious and thankless, but alongside that is much joy and a sense of purpose. The season is of indeterminate length, but for now the season persists.

I ask myself what is next. Before September and the door I was running out of hope for finding “that publisher.” Isn’t there something kind of strange about telling yourself it’s worth spending half your life producing something you can only give away?  For the last two months, the thought of sitting down to write has simply been too painful. Part of what was beautiful for me in the writing was just the writing and what I was writing about. The other part was the belief that somehow, somewhere, sometime, it would come together in a form called a book with a thing called a paycheck. The belief in this elusive other part is no longer accessible to me.

Not that I have given up forever. For lack of a better metaphor, I’ve got the body parts frozen in the crypt waiting for the cure to be found and a proper resurrection to be had. But I’m not out waiting in line for a doctor. My mental new year still revolves around September. Right now, I’m finishing the year I’m in, but next year is anybody’s guess. I’m considering going back to school. I’m wondering if the current season will require me longer than I think. And I’m looking in the mirror wondering if there will be a rock somewhere from which I can pry open a little hope to begin another writing project. I’ve one in mind just in case.

In the space of now, I’ve a few blog pieces asking to be written. And amidst the sadness of loss in terms of the writing is a sense of quiet wonder, gratitude and yearning to get up and dance in celebration of all the unexpected gifts the last eight months have brought. Because both pictures are me right now.

cutting loose blackened by jduram, compliments of

cutting loose blackened by jduram, compliments of


13 Comments to Grief, joy, loss, hope and living with contradiction

  1. Leslie Lynch says:

    Glad you wrote this piece. And when the time is right, you’ll write the next piece. Someday, you will write the project you have waiting in the wings. Your gift is too rare, too beautiful to be contained or defined by a publisher’s “Not for us.” Meanwhile, dance like the little girl in the picture! Dance with your children, with your new friends, your husband, with the cows and the sheep and the chickens and the bees – and with the words in your heart. Peace, Michelle. I am SO reminded of Merton’s prayer…

  2. Margaret Rose Realy Obl OSB says:

    So moving and heartfelt. I’ve always loved how you phrase.

  3. Barb Shay says:

    As soon as a post from you appears, I jump right on it. A whole book from you would be a treasure to all of us who believe in your gift. The work you are doing will be used by the Father in ways we can’t imagine. He wastes nothing.

  4. Dale Sipple says:

    I love this. And it was so good to have a blog entry today. A tear trickled down my cheek and amen to Leslie’s lovely comment.

  5. Dee says:

    Reading your blog is always such a confirmation of the way your gifts are used. Your writing is and has always been a part of you. It will continue to be as you take each step and wait to see what comes next. We all wait with you in anticipation for what your next project will be. We want to read it!

  6. Esther J Cann says:

    I love your writing but I love you more!! Wish I could give you a big hug right now but someday soon I hope!! Great to hear from you again.

  7. Elisa Prajogo says:

    Why don’t you look into self-publishing? There’s minimal cost in publishing an e-book, and if you have enough people interested in your book – then you can look into publishing physical copies.

    This is in no way meant to be promoting Amazon, but they’re the biggest player in self-publishing. Read more here:

  8. Sandy Patterson says:

    I guess God has perfect timing,regardless of our struggles! Your time will come! I miss you and love you!!

    • Michelle says:

      I miss and love you too. I hope one of us manages a road trip soon so I can see you in person. :)