For those who missed Friday's post, I have a new column on arts and culture in Tidings. Weekly. Plus a monthly column in Magnificat. Plus a blog. Plus I've been out of town for three weeks. Plus as it happens I'm leaving town June 17 for seven more weeks.
In the meantime I need to get my teeth cleaned, buy a new phone, attend my own book party, prepare a talk for the Catholic Press Association conference in Charlotte, NC, and figure out what to pack for the south, NYC, Westerly RI, Rye, NH, a month in Gloucester, MA (Ignatian Exercises!), Orleans, MA (home of Paraclete Press, publishers of Shirt of Flame), and a week at Weston Priory in Vermont. They'll have books to read at those places, right?
It's an embarrassment of riches, and the Tidings column in particular is in a way my dream come true. I've been writing, in my way, on arts, culture, faith and life for twenty years. It is also going to be an incredible amount of work. I can't just report on an event, which for one thing would bore me senseless and for another would be an impermissible taking of a shortcut. I have to sink into the meaning, the essence, the heart of the thing and find some meat. But first, in many instances, I'm going to have to visit, say, a museum, or interview a person, or read a book and take notes and ponder. I will no doubt use the blog as a carcass, picking off bits of flesh here and there. But roughly half of the columns need to be based in the L.A. Archdiocese. Which is huge but which also requires me to keep my ear to the ground in a new way. That takes time and effort, too.
I'm not a critic, and was not hired to be a critic. I'm a human being with a questing heart. Still, one of the things that excites me is the invitation to look more deeply at art, to listen more closely to music, to reflect more widely on what makes us all tick.
I feel it as a great honor and a great responsibility, to which I pray to be equal. And I am also ever more aware that "I am the vine, you are the branches. Without me you can do nothing."
I had an interesting experience on my last round of travels. I was leading a retreat in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and I started to feel the anxiety that is so familiar to me before I speak, anywhere. I was making copious, somewhat crazily messy notes. What if I forget to say this? What if I leave out that joke? What if...
And suddenly I thought Why not say what God needs me to say instead of what I want to say because I think it will have some intended effect (which in large part is always to get people to love me)? What if I just relax--the Lord knows I have all the information and could blather on endlessly on any number of subjects, especially sobriety, with no notes whatever for hours--and let God speak through me and not worry about getting a hit off MY thinking I'm sounding new, original, smart, and deep.
So I just sort of let go and let the weekend be what the weekend wanted to be. I don't mean let go into formlessness or laziness. I mean let go of having to predict or engineer the outcome (as if i could do that anyway).
In other words, I trusted. And at the moment, I am not going to have much of a choice but to trust some more. Too much is going on for me to continue with my usual strategy of managing and controlling. Does a man add one cubit to his life by worrying? asked Christ. Regard the lilies of the field; they neither toil nor spin.
I'm going to pray not to toil or spin either, not in the frantic way Jesus means. I'll probably end up linking to my columns here and having that be the day's post. But I still hope to keep up with you all.
Let's continue to hold one another in prayer.
One day at a time.
Easy does it.
I am not alone.
None of us are.