I think I've finally figured out why I haven't written in quite a while.
Most of you who have had face-to-face conversations with me know that I'm not exactly naturally shy or reserved. ("In love with the sound of my own voice" is more accurate.) In small groups, I have to be careful not to dominate the conversation. I have to constantly remind myself to stop and listen, really listen, to my wife and children, rather than jumping in before they even finish their sentences, and I'm not always successful at that.
But in a large group, I'm different. I want to choose my words carefully. I don't want to waste the time of a large group of people with an incomplete or rambling thought.
I've been a delegate to diocesan council in three different dioceses, covering at least twelve years. In all that time, I've never stood up to address the council, not even once. I've gone to clergy conference for three years, and I have yet to speak up at clergy conference. (sotto voce jokes not withstanding) I've attended city council meetings, meetings of concerned citizens about airport noise, and public forums, and only rarely, rarely, will I say anything.
The funny thing is that I tend to be one of those people who have to start talking about something complicated before I get it straight in my head. I almost always have a step in the sermon writing process where I go for a long walk, or take advantage of a long drive, or shut the door and pace around and around and talk to myself. If we have to make a decision quickly, I'll sometimes ask my wife "let me think out loud for a minute, okay?" and she knows that the first thing out of my mouth might not be the same as the last thing.
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A while ago, my friend Gordon Atkinson asked me to be a part of the network of bloggers for the Christian Century. (you've almost certainly noticed the link in the upper right corner of this page.) I had to think about it for a while to see if I wanted to be included, but finally accepted. I suddenly found myself in distinguished company, people who were faithful and far more articulate than I am and insightful and smart and funny. I read everything that anyone in the network wrote, for a while. Then the network grew and grew, and more and more voices were added, all of them worth reading. I kept reading. And the more I did that, the less I wrote.
Took me a while to recognize the same dynamic that happens when I'm in a room full of people. I realized that I was unconsciously weighing everything that was going on in my head to say against the wonderful stuff that was already being said, and deciding not to waste everyone's time on it. And then I got out of the habit of regular writing. And then life events happened, and I had a few crazy-busy weeks, and then all of a sudden it's been three months since I posted. And if it's been three months, then it's really no big deal if I let it stretch to four...
Take, for example, the subject of my most recent post. It was the middle of Lent, and we were building a labyrinth. Yes, we finished it. Yes, I started writing about it. I even have pictures. But the urgency wasn't there to post it. The people at my congregation already knew it was finished, and my friends who read this blog from several states (or countries) away couldn't come and walk it with us, and all those wonderful people in the bloggers network probably wouldn't care less... Same goes for my monthly articles for the parish newsletter, and sermon manuscripts.
This is silly, I know, but I haven't been consciously thinking about it. It took a day like today, when I was going to be doing something that got cancelled and then I was going to be really busy doing another important thing that's probably not going to happen either and I unexpectedly have a free day to sit back and take few deep breaths and look around to see what I've been neglecting that I shouldn't be.
I never promised to be prolific, but I won't be living in a cave again.