At meetings of my writing group, we often undertake a freewrite exercise together. Using prompts of various kinds, we spend twenty minutes or so writing without editing, simply letting the conversation and the shared energy around the table work with the prompt to elicit new work. This post is from today’s group meeting, where I drew the the words “decision,” “demand,” and “would you pay” from an Altoid tin full of provocative words. My writing friends found meaning in this writing and urged me to post it. Going with their judgment, here it is.
I’m thinking about the feather in Forrest Gump, swirling on currents of air, the lovely way it’s lifted and carried from here to there, rising and falling but always remaining aloft and traveling on to a new place, in harmony with the prevailing winds, peacefully moving through the world. When the movie came out I lived next door to a preacher who said to his flock: Don’t be like that feather, don’t just be blown by the breeze—make your life count for something.
I didn’t like his message, its hostility to the flow of things. I didn’t want the bulldoggedness of his theology or to be someone who operated that way. I didn’t want to reject the organic movement of the world, of life with others, to plow forward as if my own motives mattered most.
Maybe I wanted to picture the Holy Spirit as the air lifting that feather and sending it where it needed to be. How else could a feather know where to go? And how much more about where to go do I know?
But in this world decisions are required. Moving forward demands a decision, necessitates action. We come equipped with our own vision; I think we’re supposed to use it. Even if it’s limited. Even if it’s inadequate. Maybe filling out that vision is where the Holy Spirit comes in.
What would you pay is a question that drives this world. We have to pay. And we need to be paid. What would you pay for what I have to offer? That’s how we measure so much of our worth. Too much, but that’s the world we live in.
What would you pay to have what you want? And with what currency? With money? with time? with attention? with training? with dogged effort? with constant tending? with scraping for hope? with gathering the necessary vitality for one more try, one more day? Would you pay with sacrifice? with humility? with impoverishment? with pleading? with force? with violence? with insistence? with demands? with exile? with rejection? with woundedness? with letting go? with love? What is the price of what matters most? Is it anything short of a cross?