Lent, Preaching, The Bible, The Inner Landscape


I started blogging, for real, in March of 2004. At first I just thought of myself as having a fancy journal. It had shiny newness and I was more inclined to finish a thought than I was in a paper journal at that time. Eventually, I made friends, and then my focus changed. Everything I wrote from then, until today, was intended to elicit a response. It was for you, and you, and you, and for the other yous who read and don’t anymore and the random yous who get to my blog via search engine or link and never return.

It’s true that I began by thinking I had no attention, so I simply wrote things down that interested me and didn’t care if they were about my kids, or my marriage, or politics, or people at church. I don’t think I was mean, but I was frank, at times. Once I had attention, I began to set limits on what I would blog, but I still wanted attention.

I also wanted to tell a story about my life, or maybe I mean the story of my life, but really, I may mean a story about my life. That’s probably more accurate. I did the opposite of what journaling accomplishes for me, which is to work things through until I know the truth of how I feel about them. Instead I worked through things that troubled me, trying to make them okay, putting the best or happiest or sweetest possible gloss on them.

A lot of the time I was lonely.

This happens to pastors. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

It also happens to people in challenging relationships, and just the way I insist on choosing the words for this sentence indicates I’m still telling a story, trying to make sense of what happened and what I knew and what I did not and how I participated in my own delusions.

The authors of the gospels did the same things, choosing how to tell the story, and as I look at the Lenten passages from John’s gospel, I’m aware that he had a particular purpose in putting his gospel together. And we’re in danger if we look at his text (or my blogs) as simply a recitation of facts that happened. He’s telling a story, the story of the Good News as John (or whoever) understood it, based on what he was told and what he believed and what he thought people ought to know.

In my own life, I’m feeling Lent enough, by which I mean that I’m engaged in enough self-examination, that I didn’t choose anything to give up or take on this year. I decided to throw myself into making the stories come alive. And that means each week, I’m taking them apart and putting them back together and talking about them and thinking about them, being a preacher and a writer and a very minor theologian and a person still wrestling with the stories she has known all her life.

Because on Sunday, I want them to elicit a response.

11 thoughts on “Elicit”

  1. I haven't been reading you from the beginning, but I've been challenged, moved and encouraged by the stories you've told on your blog. Thank you for being willing to put words to pixel and be a part of this new way of being community.

  2. Thanks, Laura. I'm slowly (very) moving a selection of old blog posts from Typepad, finding it hard to let the whole old thing go, but needing to, certainly.

  3. As usual, your gift of being able to connect your personal life experience with scripture illuminates important truths. "He's telling a story, the story of the Good News as John (or whoever) understood it, based on what he was told and what he believed and what he thought people ought to know."Thank you for sharing your stories. Even if I don't comment on all of them, they all elicit a response!

  4. You definitely had me at "[Being lonely] happens to pastors. Don't let them tell you otherwise." I'm intrigued with the comparison of blogging and gospel-sharing. There's also what it means to tell story for a purpose and for a response. The title is a sermon to me!Thank you!

  5. Ruby, love you! xoxoxDeb, I read practically the same words in the New Interpreter's Bible this morning, so I think I'm onto something!

  6. I have felt supported, moved, and challenged by your writing for the past several years. You clearly have a way of creating community through sharing you thoughts, ideas, and experiences. I have been intrigued by your journey from Songbird to sharing your name. Perhaps you are moving away from telling a story about your life to telling the story of your life? Or maybe we come to the story of our life through the stories we tell ourselves and others about our lives? I for one am enriched by giving you and your writing my attention. Thank you.

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