Yes, I'm confessing to you, wonderful reader, that one of the most beautiful and extraordinary books that has been written in the past few years was left unfinished by me. Last autumn, I made it to chapter ten, set the book down, and walked away. I first began reading One Thousand Gifts exactly when I needed to. When the felt absence of His Presence had left heart in lurch and soul moored to the floor of fractured being. It came to me in the acceptable time, bought as an afterthought, and I read through its pages slowly and in need. I was asking for a crust of bread and found myself placed before a feast. I ate and ate, but kept pace slow, knowing that I was not well enough to stand so much joy so quickly. When you've been sick, you come back to the normal things with cautioned movement; and my soul had been sick. I see that now, in the after, I can see the pox for what and where it was.
But something changed in me, before I reached chapter ten, and I found myself walking again and going to the edges of Zion, running my hand against the wall the psalmist sang for us to do. My prayers were meaning something and my words had a body. Eventually, perhaps abruptly, I set the beautiful book aside and did as it had instructed me: I went out into the Light and kept its company for a season.
This past week, I shared how my own book has evolved and changed. I'm excited for this, I'm thrilled, but the process has stirred me gently, roused me to awareness, that any sort of memoir, even if tailored as a spiritual memoir, wants an ownership of the past. With it, certainly, an ownership of self. More devastating, though, ownership of pain. I have a biting wit and cruel tongue, and should I be another person than who I wish to be, should I be the me that is normally around, the one who rolls out of bed more often than not with a curse, than those in my past who have done me ill should know of it again in the words I spill onto manuscript pages. Theoretically, I could say about them whatever I want.
But I can't live that way. The red letters in the other Book tell me I can't. The Spirit tells me I can't. Ann, and her good words, told me I couldn't.
This is hard to remind myself of; there is so much material to work with. How do you be honest and yet tender, true but forgiving. How do you fully, really, forgive? Have you figured that part out yet? Do you, like me, find yourself talking a good game of grace, even feeling it, meaning it, but then like a shot the past grudge rips through you again and you wonder if you ever even forgave to begin with?
Today I picked Ann up again. Chapter ten. I placed my favorite bookmark--the icon bookmark, of poems from my best friend--beside me at the ready and began. It's time for me to finally finish this book, because I think it shall teach me something about my own.
And because I think Ann's book is so wonderful, so truly right and good, I'd like to pass it along. I'm giving someone a new copy of the book, along with a homemade card from me with an original watercolor on its front offering my own prayer that it should find you in the space of gracious living for the story you're writing yourself, right now, in the everyday.
To enter, simply leave a comment below answering this question: What is the silliest thing you've given thanks for lately? (Mine was Twitter. Seriously.) But you're also welcome, too, to answer my question about forgiveness. The giveaway closes at 11:59 PM CST, today. I'll use one of those magic randomizer things and announce the winner tomorrow!