#CaringForCommunity is a blog series that spotlights the work of writers, artists, or your next-door neighbors who, without being asked and without pay, carry the light in simple but meaningful ways. These are people giving back in order to lift others up. Real life examples of compassion, concern, and inspiration. In today’s post, the story is personal.
A lot can happen in a day, like you wake up still beaming from an excellent book launch; you move into your last few hours of work before summer break; and you scribble a to-do/to-take list for your upcoming writing retreat out of town. You’ve been going going going and doing and worrying (which is what you do best, unfortunately). And you ignore that thing pressing at your back–literally, a pressing of pain–until it moves to the front and your sister-in-law lovingly reminds you that “at your age” you ought to check that out. Especially before you leave town. So you do. That day. And you come to find out you’ve got shingles.
A lot can happen from there, like the sleepless nights and the tell-tale rash and the unfathomable pain until (finally) relief, and by some miracle (meds, the bed, the nurturing from family–all of the above), you do make it to your writing retreat, which turns out to be respite in more ways than one.
You meet a roomful of women (a few men, too, whom you appreciate as well, but it’s the women) who pull you back into balance. Gentle voices and knowing eyes and honest, light-hearted conversation about the process of writing and living and living with writing. Throughout the whole week, you are surrounded by these women, flooded with quiet moments, and nudged with reminders To Just Be.
One woman in particular speaks to you from across the lunch table–the one place where it’s never quiet. You strain to hear her, leaning across your bowl of beef broth soup and plate of noodles dressed in bright, red tomato sauce. Never mind if you get some on your shirt, what she’s saying is important.
She’s talking about waiting.
Waiting for the story.
Listening for the characters.
Later, she gives you an article on just that, “When Writing is Actually About Waiting.” The margins of her copy are filled with her handwritten thoughts about waiting and her own personal journey into story. But she doesn’t hesitate to share, to pass on the wisdom gained: it’s in sharing where we fully understand, connect, grow.
And it’s in this article where you read the words you most need to hear:
You can find peace within that. In the waiting.
In the listening. In being still.
. . .
Just what your body has been trying to tell you.
So you take to her message. You take walks, you take naps, you take your pen and paper into town and you sit.
And gather the story.