This morning the soft summer rain was coming down all around me as I sat, sheltered on the front porch on the comfy Muskoka chair with a hot coffee in one hand and Etty Millesum‘s, An Interruped Life and Letters from Westerbork in the other. I was inspired by the wonder of the moment and by the words I was reading.
The cedar trees hung heavy with the wetness and seemed strangely blurred by the rain falling between them and me. The birds flitted and flapped from branch to fence and back again singing their delightful chorus with no particular melody but mixing into a wonderful composition of sound. There was a chipmunk very displeased with my presence who kept chirping loudly to frighten me away but it didn’t work. The wind chime hung silent because there was no breeze but the occasional drip from the steel roof would land on it and give it a sudden shudder of movement. The large tropical plant beside me was also moved occasionally by the big drops and a splash would land on my foot or forehead and startle me to smile.
The porch is my favourite summer haunt but it has taken me a while to get it in shape this year. The plants have been out there for a while getting their dose of summer fresh air. I think I can hear them yelling at me to move them outside when the days get long and the air is stifling in the house. Finally yesterday I painted the chairs and now I’m able to enjoy it even though the plank floor still needs painting. For the moment the porch is the closest I will come to a “She Shed”. My next big project there is to conquer the ever present issue of mosquitoes. They seem to love the cedar trees as much as the cardinals and chipmunks do. They interrupt my hope to read into the darkness of evening.
I don’t know when the last time was I was moved by a writer as I am by Etty Hillesum. She is a young Jewish woman living in occupied Holland during WWII. Her fate is as so many of her age and her dream of being a writer ended in Auschwitz. The world was robbed because if her musings in the work I’m reading are an indication of her talent she might have turned the world upside down. As it is she is turning mine upside down a bit. She moves me to write and while I too dream of being a writer I am hopeful with her, of putting to thought to paper.
Etty says in the first paragraph of her journal, “This is painful and well- nigh inseparable step for me: yielding up so much that has been suppressed to a blank sheet of lined paper. The thoughts in my head are sometimes so clear and so sharp and my feelings so deep, but writing about them comes hard.”
A few days later she says, “At times I can suddenly see a subject clearly and distinctly, think my way through it, great sweeping thoughts that I can scarcely grasp but which all at once give me an intense felling of importance. Yet when I try to write them down they shrivel into nothing and that’s why I lack courage to commit them to paper – in case I become too disillusioned with the fatuous little essay that emerges.”
And so it was for me this morning. I sat there in the rain with all sorts of grand ideas about what I might write today and all the great things I could accomplish to change my world and the whole world. I came inside, set my cup down, headed toward the computer and got completely sidetracked from creativity with the need to clear the clutter from my desk and make room for my many projects.
Perhaps I too am afraid I will be disillusioned with the fatuous little essay that might emerge.
Perhaps I will find find inspiration every day until finally I am able to follow through and create some wonderful work which will turn hearts and move mountains but for now I will commit to this little effort every day as a beginning.