It's no secret that one of the hardest things about writing and preaching and teaching is the work of narrowing - bringing one thing into focus. Read one Faulkner sentence or listen to one of Bernard's homilies and witness this work at its best.
Plowing through this week's passage or creating a new world via a short story, the author makes decisions about what stays and what goes. The sharpening process tends to be painful, for it usually means rejecting various good ideas/themes in order to focus on one matter. Hence, a shovel is no good for digging a post-hole. To achieve proper depth without disturbing a large area of soil/rock around the post, post-hole diggers fit the bill (or tractor borne augers if you're lucky).
I hope to preach the gospel clearly and well, which requires sound and thorough learning - a willingness to contently dig in one place for a while. I have to remember that there's always next week or next time, so it's ok and even necessary to reject a handful of good things as I prepare. After all, when it comes to writing and teaching through scripture, in the words of Robert Earl Keen, "the road goes on forever and the party never ends."
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
So, the kids remain quiet in their room. Amberly made it safely to New Mexico. And now I must continue hashing out tomorrow's sermon. Of course, this won't be the last late night of sermon work. All you seasoned pastors out there can attest to that! However, it will most likely be the last time I stay up late for the sake of a seminary assignment.
I'm a little nostalgic, yes, though the thought of losing sleep and conversation and a million other things for school assignments keeps that to a minimum. Some of these nights have been downright painful. Others have just been annoying. Some the result of procrastination, some the result of unforeseen roadblocks. Many of them though, have been significant experiences in this formational education journey.
Here's to the coffee, lamplight, and patient family. I'm off to try and finish the last one strong. And since only Chad would be able to make sense of my outline tomorrow, a good bit of work remains before this thing takes audible shape.