I write this first blog post, a mere three days away from a monumental life change: I am leaving my 28-year vocation of working for technology companies to begin to live my lifelong Calling as a Writer. Like a baby chick for whom its shell of nutrition and safety has become far too small, I am breaking open to a new way of life. And, like that chick, I am filled with trepidation. What will it be like — this new way of living without back-to-back meetings and an overflowing email inbox; without daily structure and the stimulation of co-workers? Oh, and not to mention, without a regular paycheck? What will it be like to actually fly? Somehow, in the thoes of all of this uncertainty, a strong sense of Certainty has emerged in the depths of myself: It’s time to break free of the egg.
For many years, I felt a Call of something beyond myself, but I couldn’t get a sense of what It was. Then, in a single moment during a very difficult day nearly two years ago, that Call finally became clear. Just three weeks earlier, my beloved husband Randy died — suddenly and tragically — and I was reeling with grief. I awoke that morning, knowing that this was the day I needed to empty the dresser drawers where he kept his clothes. As this Awful Task loomed before me like an unwanted predator, I called my dear friend Joanna for support. She listened carefully as I poured out my heart, and, with compassion, she suggested that, perhaps, I might find an unexpected blessing in this chore that I had been dreading. My initial reaction was incredulous: What possible blessing could come from removing the t-shirts, socks and underclothes of my soulmate — the clothing that still held his scent? Still, something in her words resonated with me as I began to sort through and empty the dresser drawers. Unlikely as it seemed, I desperately wanted something Good to come from something so Awful, and decided open myself to that possibility.
At the very bottom of the last drawer, through my tears, I found a stack of poster-sized papers — about 20 in all. What could this be? I had put away Randy’s clean laundry in those drawers countless times over the years, but had never seen these papers. Hands trembling, I removed what turned out to be 50-year-old drawings created in 1963 by Randy’s 13-year-old mind and hands. Each page was filled with the three-dimensional drawings of gears, brackets, screw heads, bolts and fastenings that were required in his Carmichael Jr. High Mechanical Drawing class. I marveled at the high level of skill that was so evident in the scale, proportion and shading of these many objects — such impressive work from such a young man! Why, I wondered, had Randy not become an engineer? Why had he held on to these drawings all this time, and why had he never shown them to me? His drawings clearly demonstrated a gift for the aptitude and skills that would have made for a successful career. In that moment, I realized that, while Randy used so many of his gifts throughout his life, this gift of drawing was not one that he used to its full potential. And in a split second, this question burst into my heart, as if Randy himself was speaking it to me: “Are you using your gifts?”
People have told me for a long time that I have a gift with words in expressing my heart, and for perceiving spiritual depth from everyday things and experiences. In that Holy Moment, at the bottom of the drawer, I knew that I was not using my gift to its full potential. Immediately, that Call of something ‘beyond’ that had alluded me for so many years was now before me, with great clarity and in the depth of my bones: I AM a Writer.
And so, the unexpected blessing.
Life’s most difficult events can yield its greatest lessons and gifts — beauty from ashes, if you will. With unfathomable gratitude, and with the full sense that Randy is cheering me on with each word I type, I officially begin what has (necessarily) been steeping in my heart for ages. I like to believe that it is no coincidence that Randy kept those mechanical drawings from junior high in his drawer for all of those years. And I thank God for giving Joanna the words that would help prepare my heart to receive the Call from the bottom of the drawer.
Here I go …