Listening in the Night Watches
By: Susan Deborah Schiller
The story you don't want to write may be sounding an alarm in the night watches. You can't sleep, stumble out of bed, and wonder if you should get something to eat or watch TV. But if you listen in the night watch, the untold story – that story you don't want to write – may write itself in your dreams.
There's something about the dark – especially the deep darkness just before dawn – that produces a clarity of vision that normally doesn't happen during the day. Whether it's a piece of a dream, a fleeting image or thought, it's good to write whatever comes to mind in a journal.
You may wake up with a phrase in your mind, as I did, in "Take a Quantum Leap" or "Keep writing, change is happening". Even if you start with nothing, the movement of your pen on paper propels you to put words on the page.
It's a good idea to pray as you write. Ask God to enlighten your heart and trust that the Spirit of Truth will guide you as you write. Try not to think too hard as you write these "morning pages". I call it the "kaleiodoscope effect" as all these bits and pieces of what seem like "nothing" – dark pieces, light pieces, and every shade and hue of story – get shaken together and begin to fall into beautiful patterns.
Earlier this year I wrote:
This journey that I call "On the Way Home," began many years ago when I began awakening in the middle of the night. In those quiet, dark hours, with notebook in hand, I would snap on the closet light after shutting the door and simply write whatever came to mind. It didn't matter what words tumbled out. I just wrote and wrote and wrote.
Sometimes I'd start with a question. Other times I'd record a dream I'd just had. And usually after 2-3 pages I would glean some kind of answer. Sometimes I would even sound like a love letter. Sometimes it arrived on the melody of a song or the whisper of a prayer. The words scribbled hastily in my notebooks carried me through for th enext 24-hours of changing diapers, cooking and cleaning, and all the happy but exhausting chaos of a busy home with toddlers.
One example of a "bit and piece" is the following journal that I wrote in the hours before dawn back in 2001, beginning with a dream:
I try to write directly through my heart before my brain fully engages, because dream messages tend to disappear once the waking world invades our thoughts. The dream messages are like bits and pieces in the kaleidoscope as turn these messages around, through meditation, and you begin to see interesting patterns.
This past weekend, as I spent 24 hours in prayer at the watch tower pictured above, one of those patterns sorted itself into a mosaic of Truth that centered on "authentic relationships". I will write about what I believe God is saying about building authentic relationships in The Church of the Future. For now, I just want to encourage you to "trust the soup," which is a phrase Steven Pressfield teaches us in the "The War of Art" about not trying to be perfect when you write your story.
Trust that God will help you compose all those bits and pieces into a story that showcases His Glory in your life. And, if you wake up in the morning around 3 am, try picking up your journal and just writing… write without trying to write. Write the story that longs to be released from the inner chambers of your mind. Let your heart release those pent up words, whether pretty or dark.
Some of the most beautiful people are formed by trials. Don't be afraid to write the bits and pieces without understanding how it all flows together. Just write. Make it a daily practice. Or make a video, an audio recording, draw, or collect a photo.
I find comfort that I don't need to understand it all. I never will, in a single, fleeting lifetime. But I can listen and watch for the brief glimses of love and truth. Each piece is just part of the Grand Story – God's story. He's telling His story through you and me.
All the bits and pieces of your life are a beautiful mosaic you can trust in the hands of your Creator to be the "gospel" with your name in the title. His story shines through your wounds. There's someone who needs your ray of Light, so keep writing, change is happening!
With all my love,
Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she is learning to navigate to freedom and fullness.
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.
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