I’ve tried to explain why I write, but my sister has remained dumbfounded. She equates my avocation to the world of extreme sports. Just as a climber needs to scale El Capitan in Yosemite, writers need to write, she thinks. It’s just something they must do, a risk they must take. But why?
Yesterday my sister called, excited by what she had read. She explained that she now understood why I write. She proceeded to read from one of Henri Nouwen’s books, and as she did so, I choked back my emotions. Nouwen’s words had captured my heart and given voice to its secrets.
I wonder if Nouwen is writing for all of us who sit before a computer putting thoughts to bare pages. My question prompts me to share his words with you. If you have a moment, let me know if you find resonance.
Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals to us what is alive in us. The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know. Thus, writing requires a real act of trust. We have to say to ourselves, “I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust that it will emerge as I write.” Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes one has, trusting that they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare to “give away” on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath these thoughts and gradually come in touch with our own riches.