Monday, January 11, 2010

The Gift of Serving


This morning I intend to get to work a little earlier than is normal for me, so I'm going to keep my blog post short (but hopefully sweet). I want to share a few quotes from Madeleine L'Engle. I seem to be doing that a lot lately. These are taken from the book Madeleine L' Engle {Herself}, a compilation of the author's quotes on the writing life, her own works, and faith. These are taken from the section Serving the Gift.


No Work Is Too Small
If the work comes to the artist and says, "Here I am, serve me," then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve. The amount of the artist's talent is not what it is about. Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, "Listen to me. All writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don't matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake."

To feed the lake is to serve, to be a servant.... To serve should be a privilege, and it is to our shame that we tend to think of it as a burden, something to do if you're not fit for anything better or higher.

I have never served a work as it ought to be served; my little trickle adds hardly a drop of water to the lake, and yet it doesn't matter; there is no trickle too small. Over the yeas I have come to recognize that the work often knows more than I do. And with each book I start, I have hopes that I may be helped to serve it a little more fully.

Prepare for Sacrifice
A book may come to me and ask to be written, but it takes time and energy and considerable pain to give birth to even the most minor of stories. The life of the artist is as much a life of discipline as that of the physician or the missionary. It makes incredibly austere and difficult demands. Are you willing to make the sacrifice? Don't worry if you're not.... Not everyone who writes is called on to make this work a vocation; but if you feel that you are called, then I can promise you great joy as well as conflict and pain.

The Gift of Wholeness
The important thing is to recognize that our gift, no matter what the size, is indeed something given to us, for which we can take no credit, but which we may humbly serve, and, in serving, learn more wholeness, be offered wondrous newness.

Picasso says that an artist paints not to ask a question, but because he has found something, and he wants to share--he cannot help it--what he has found.

Now may the God of all grace (who delights in the telling of stories) renew our spirits and strengthen our minds and hearts to serve whatever work is calling us to give it life through words. Amen!

7 comments:

  1. Where did you find this book? I've had it on my wishlist at Amazon for ever so long, and the cheapest (used) copy I can find is more than $30.

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  2. Library! I know, it's SO expensive. I plan to keep renewing my copy until someone else wants it. Would love to have my own, though. It's bursting its bindings with inspiring words.

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  3. Amen! Thank you for sharing this piece with us, Lori. I'm going to have to get this from the library. It is on ebay for $33 at the moment. Tempting . . . but I think I'll have to wait.

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  4. Terrific post, Lori! I'll have to check my library for a copy of this book.

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  5. Carla & Sallie, It's a shame the book is so expensive. Obviously everyone is holding on to their copy, or only selling it dear. Thank God for libraries in cases like these!

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  6. Great post, Lori. L'Engle is one of my favorite writers. It's good to remember that writing is an act of service. "Great joy as well as conflict and pain" is certainly true of this life!

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  7. Laura,

    I find L'Engle's thoughts on writing some of the deepest and most profound available. She's always encouraging, inspiring, and yet manages to communicate the harder truths about the writing life as well: "THIS is the challenge you will face and the sacrifices you may have to make if you really want this writing life, but THIS is the joy and reward you will experience, and as long as God is leading, it will be worth it." That's a theme I see threaded through her writings. I love her honesty and courage.

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