My parents and I sat together enjoying the warm Florida breeze wafting in through the open windows and sharing our thoughts with each other about life, meaning, our passions (namely, writing) and purpose (specifically, sharing our stories), and our different yet intersecting journeys.
Yes, we actually talk like that in my family.
Then while I sat, quietly watching the two cats sitting on the cool marble sill, one in each window, facing each other like two dark silhouetted book ends, my father turned to me and out of the stillness spoke these words,
“Never stop writing. Always keep writing.”
He went on about how he believed in me and how much he enjoyed my writing. In a family of writers he said,
“You’re the writer in our family.”
Further adding that he hoped I would do what he had never done, thereby living somewhat vicariously though my writing the writer’s life he had once dreamed for himself and of which he figured my mom had only scratched the surface as a published poet, having also written a novel. High praise indeed. After that he informed me that he had written about 300 pages of his own life story, but knew not where to end.
I thanked him for the encouragement, said I understood where he was coming from, and shared with him how I had experienced a sort of writer’s block after all the attention I received from my first breakthrough post, Summer Sisters and 1979. It rather took me by surprise, my own reaction, after several thousand people started reading and following the blog, many of whom took the time to comment and ‘like’ the post.
I felt like I needed to post something equally excellent and moving or I would be letting down my new readers, most of whom were not familiar with my larger story- that of being a Spirit-filled woman of faith, seasonal recluse, and grace advocate; once traveling evangelist and recording artist, singer/songwriter; unschooler; former Christian television program co-host (ugh, did I just admit that?); church planter and (alternative) home church supporter; immigrant, pastor’s wife and home educator, mother of three; or that my firstborn waits for me in Heaven with my sister and (biological) mom, other family members and dear friends. They had no idea that I was raised by wolves the first decade of my life or that I too have known the immeasurable loss of a loved one who chose to take their own life.
Broken family, insecurity, unhealthy relationships, attempted suicide, mental illness, addiction, poverty, crime, abuse, abandonment, neglect, danger, salvation, deliverance, forgiveness, redemption, healing, grace; ashes and beauty; all part of my story.
These new friends and readers had yet to discover that I love so fully, feel so deeply or have worried so fearfully that I appreciate intricately the finest of details in each experience of my life, or that my imagination can run away with me when I dream so big that I often lose myself in a romantic world of my own making; that I like to sit for hours- just thinking.
No. Neither were they familiar with my passion for the presence of God; that I believe God is love and everyone is my neighbor. Unfamiliar with my love of, indeed, my need for, silence, solitude, poetry, nature, sunshine or Scripture. It was hard to fully accept that sharing a portion of such an intimate experience (the loss of a sibling) with tens of thousands of strangers could be both personal and public.
(Is there such a thing as sudden onset shyness?)
It was difficult for me to come to terms with knowing that so many people now felt they knew enough about me that they wanted to stay tuned and follow along to find out more. It was overwhelming. I guess it seemed sort of strange to me that so many strangers were now reading my words.
And so I stopped writing them.
I posted the works of others that I found interesting or helpful. I took long absences from public blogging (at all). Then slowly I began to accept the fact that they were there, these friendly readers, and they did not seem to take my silence as either an insult or an invitation to leave or quit reading the rest of my story as it is told, bit by bit, one small entry at a time. A collage of God’s grace; redemption stories pieced together from the various chapters of my life.
The question my dad posed was thought provoking.
“Where does my story end?”
For me, at least for now, I have found my answer. It doesn’t.
It doesn’t end… it only continues. This blog is the place where I record each vignette in random order as small waves of confidence increase and shyness recedes. It is the place I set down my thoughts on screen for all to read; where I share the many graces God has manifest in my life with people just like you, with your own amazing stories and our different yet intersecting journeys, (Do you see what I just did there?) who are curious enough to keep reading.
Almost all of us are familiar with websites that leave an explanatory message on their splash page saying something like,
“Thank you for your patience, site under construction.”
Recently I even made a few changes on the blog here; changing the theme and making a few adjustments and updates where necessary, to better accommodate a larger audience.
You could call it the art of avoidance.
I would change a header instead of replying to a comment or add a photo rather than write a post. It is not that I didn’t want the company, just that I needed to rearrange the furniture for my own comfort and the ease of my guests.
So, Dear Reader,
“Please be patient, this writer is still under construction.”
And now, Welcome to my virtual living room!
My name is Una-Melina, I am an introvert. I love Jesus, poetry, art, music, books and things. I am very particular about the movies I watch. I like to travel; most recently I was in Florida assisting my aging parents during a season of transition. I am seasonally affected and solar powered. Sunshine on my shoulder makes me (very) happy. I am fond of parentheses and my favorite punctuation mark is the humble semi colon.
I am also rather fond of herbal tea, a refreshing mojito on a hot sunny day, Irish whiskey (incidentally I am married to an Irish Canadian) and a nice malbec red wine (all things in moderation). I become practically giddy at the discovery of a great new (or used) bookstore or the acquisition of a new journal (such as my latest travel journal in the pages of which these words first appeared). An amateur ornithologist, I have had an almost lifelong fascination with birds.
I dream of one day owning a writer’s cottage on the Caribbean island of St. John, USVI; wintering there and writing stories that people want to read and that bring hope to the reader.
I want to see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
I am glad you are here! Let’s get to know each other and find out where our stories intersect.
How do you take your tea?© Una-Melina 2014.