Friday, August 17, 2007

Three Ws

When I was in seminary, there always seemed to be plenty to read and write. There were chapters of the Bible to cover for class, language flashcards to peruse, theology books to plow through and a never-ending stream of pages to pound out on a variety of topics. I do not know why I thought that internship would bring a break from this. While I am doing different reading and writing, it always seems like there is so much of it to do. In considering this situation, I came up with the 3 Ws of internship (or pastoral ministry in general).

First, one waits. I feel like I am constantly waiting. Waiting to have a moment to mull over a new idea. Waiting to get to work and see what's waiting there for me. The ultimate wait is for the Spirit to move. I always feel like I am waiting for a BIG sign to tell me: "Here's what to write. Here's what to say. Here's how this sermon/newsletter/card should read." Yet the clock can tick down to the wire and I'm still waiting.

My second "w" is willing. I had a writing teacher once who told my class, "Everybody thinks if they have the perfect desk, the perfect setting, the perfect cup of tea... that the writing will just happen. Words will flow. It doesn't work that way. Writing is work." It certainly is. You have to be willing to sit down and push through your ideas. I have to be willing to write things down and then throw them away or store them for another writing project. One has to be willing to stare at the blank page, whether in a notebook or on a screen, and force one's self to put words down. It is not easy, but if your job involves writing, you must be willing to accept the amount of work involved.

The third "w" is writing. When I've waited long enough (or too long) and have made myself willing to sit down and try, then the writing begins. The started and stopped sentences. Fingers poised over keys. Finally, the tingle of realization that your idea has begun to crystallize. I can't type quickly enough to put the thoughts down. You pause to change a word choice. Consider an image. Suddenly, I find myself trying to write a conclusion: memorable and affirmative. There is still editing to be done; last minute revisions are almost guaranteed. What needs to be written has been written. There is a sense of release. In addition, there is almost a feeling of over-exposure: someone will read this and have their own opinion. You may hear that opinion or you won't. There's no telling how it might affect. But you have written what you needed to write.

I find myself stacked up with writing that needs to be accomplished: forms for school, essays, learning goals, lesson plans, blog entries, cards, newsletter pieces and sermons. There is not always time to think about these three "w"s, but I believe I cycle through them each time. There is more writing involved with this position than I thought there would be. It's pleasurable, though, because I have clear people in mind to whom I am writing: the people of God at Gloria Dei.

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