A few days ago, I discovered something unsettling: I haven’t written anything I thought anyone would enjoy reading in more than a year.
I discovered this quite by accident, when I was clipping an article I’d written for the Calgary Diocesan newspaper about our church’s recent Stampede Lunch, to put in my scrapbook. I opened up this dusty tome and discovered that the most recent article it contained was published Sept. 3, 2009.
Yikes! Where did I go wrong?
To be fair, it wasn’t entirely me who went wrong. In late 2008, the Herald decided to cancel the Family Matters page of its community weekly paper Neighbours, because it wasn’t getting enough advertising. This page was home to my twice-monthly family column Dadhood, which dominates the pages of my scrapbook. Dadhood was that rare recurring assignment that I would have written for free, but they paid me for it anyway. And it was reasonably well-read, too – I received about three dozen emails from readers I didn’t know during the column’s 18-month run, and was even interviewed on a Saskatchewan-based CBC radio show about one of the columns. Then, kaplooey, it was gone. Oh, the injustice!
The column didn’t pay very well, so it wasn’t much of a loss financially. I’ve been able to replace that revenue with glorified advertising features and technical articles without much trouble. But at the risk of being overly sentimental, the hole in my heart was tougher to fill.
The trouble is, I didn’t fully realize the hole was there until the scrapbook thing happened. It occurred to me at that moment that the scrapbook thing was no random event; that God was shaking me awake.
‘OK, God, I’m awake,’ I said on Tuesday morning. ‘What now?’ I wrestled with the question over the next few days, and finally the idea hit me this morning: God wants me to write a blog about Him.
There are a multitude of reasons this is a ridiculous idea, but it also makes a great deal of sense, when looked at through the right prescription of rose-coloured glasses.
As much as I hate to admit it, Dadhood was probably close to the end of its natural life anyway. The ‘informative and humourous look at the life of a stay-home dad’ theme was becoming a bit of a stretch, given that both of my children were in school by the time the Herald pulled the plug. Without diapers and Dora the Explorer to fuel my column fire, I’m really just a part-time office drone whose workspace is in his basement instead of a downtown tower. In hindsight, the Herald’s action allowed Dadhood to go out on a high note, rather than letting it fizzle and wither into a humiliating waste of ink and newsprint.
I still think I’m a good columnist, and I’ve often pondered the idea of writing a blog ever since Dadhood’s demise. I read other people’s blogs and am envious. When I watched that Meryl Streep movie Julie and Julia (ain’t I a good husband?), I said, ‘Man, I wish I could do that.’
In the film, Julie (Amy Adams) cooks every recipe in a massive Julia Child cookbook, writes a blog about it, gets a book deal and a movie is made about her experience. I could do that – if someone else hadn’t already done it, that is. My grand bloggery dreams always fizzle in the face of an absence of material.
Meanwhile, I’d thought many times about approaching the Herald to let me write a church-themed column for its Faith & Reason pages in the Sunday paper. I’d never worked up the courage, though – largely because I have absolutely no divinity or theology credentials. I’m just a layman who thinks a lot about God, so why would they give me a column?
So there I was with two problems. On one hand, I wanted to write a blog but had no material. On the other hand, I felt drawn toward writing about my faith but had no venue. Until this morning, believe it or not, it never occurred to me to put my hands together.
This is typical of the way God speaks to me. Very often, the ‘Eureka!’ moments are followed by a quick examination of what led up to them, and they’re followed by ‘Duh!’ moments where I can’t believe I hadn’t seen the connection before. I heard a phrase the other day in a sermon – ‘God very gently whacked me on the head with a two-by-four.’ Apropos.
You don’t need credentials to write a blog; you just need a pulse, an ego and the time to write. Bloggers whose work is worthy of attention receive it; the rest are ignored. If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it. No job interview, no publishers, editors or advertisers to appease, no journalistic style guides to follow. Complete and utter freedom to write whatever the Spirit moves me to (with or without a verb in the sentence)! Bloggery costs the blogger nothing, and in the vast majority of cases, it gains the blogger nothing. On a good day, though, it might provide a chuckle or even a piece of insight to the reader.
I don’t have to be sheepish about the fact I’m no more or less full of baloney than any of my readers – I didn’t earn my way into this little chunk of the blogosphere, any more than I earned my way into God’s grace. It’s a free gift; all I have to do is choose to receive it and make use of it the best way I know how.
I’ll do my best.
If you’re still here, I hope you’ll forgive the self-indulgence of this 1,000-word opus. I’ll try to keep future installments of this blog shorter – hopefully in the 300-500-word range.
I also hope you’ll forgive the pretentious, audacious title I’ve given to my inaugural post. Audacious and pretentious really ain’t my style; I’m a pretty humble, self-deprecating sort of fellow. I’m perhaps too aware that I and my life are fairly ordinary. But I’ve chosen to be audacious today on God’s behalf, and presume that He will do great things through me.
Peace be with you.