Thursday, July 01, 2004

A Risk Worth Taking

“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord.”

~ Psalms 104:33,34 (RSV)

"The act of writing gives us a chance to reflect in private before exposing our heart."
~ David Lowenherz, author of The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time

“But I’m just self-styled from the country
Writing of that which around me I find,
And whatever comes from my heart that day,
Or inspirations that come to my mind.”

~ Excerpt from poem written by Irene Toburen, Waterville

Exactly one year ago this week, The Prairie Post published my first Reflections column on July 3, which just happened to be my 45th birthday. It has been such a gift to be able to share my life with all of you and to express “whatever comes from my heart that day.”

“A writer’s life does not begin when they put pen to paper, but with a heartfelt belief that their life is a story that must somehow find its way to be told.”
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

That is so true. I love writing and have always felt compelled to record the events of our lives. Keen jokingly refers to me as a “serial archivist.” But if I hadn’t taken the time to document all those happenings, then I never could have written a book of memories for each of our boys, or 800 pages of journal entries about the personal side of our extended legal battle, or 425 pages of my book about our Supreme Court case.

Writing is what know, what I do and what I love.

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”~ Abraham Maslow

The Nature of the Poet
By Eileen Umbehr

Ever since I was a little girl
I've enjoyed putting words to rhyme
Whenever someone's birthday came ‘round,
I'd kick out a poem in no time.

Poems give me an outlet,
To express my thoughts and feelings,
Just painting a picture with words,
Seems to bring about some sort of healing.

The titles tell our life story -
Our hopes, our fears, our dreams;
In the Still of the Night, Standing Tall,
Roots and Wings and He Who Believes.

Some may laugh and others sneer,
At my apparent notion,
To create a poem or a verse,
that expresses my emotion.

I realize that it’s always a risk,
To let others see inside your soul;
But that’s a chance I’m willing to take,
Though their reactions I cannot control.

Because I have no other choice
What people think, I cannot care
For it's the nature of the poet
To want and need to share.

In Eric Maisel’s book titled Deep Writing, he gives a check list of thirteen requirements for those who desire to write deeply. Number seven on the list is: “I will enjoy the dangers of writing.” He states:

“Why does writing feel so dangerous? Because our ego is on the line each time we commit words to paper. Our self-image is on the line. We are magnificent in criticizing others, but put a few words on the page and everyone gets to criticize us back. Packs of wild dogs get to eat our words and spit them back at us. Am I overstating the case? I don’t think so. Writing feels exactly this dangerous to most people.”

“Making a decision to write was a lot like deciding to jump into a frozen lake.”~ Maya Angelou, poet

Yes, writing is definitely a risk – there’s no question about that. But I’ve decided that it’s a risk worth taking.

Joann A. Dockweiler of Nortonville, Kansas, expressed a similar sentiment in this poem which appeared in the Kansas Plus section of The Topeka Capital-Journal.

By Joann A. Dockweiler

It’s lonely, being of poetic mind,
when no one seems to care
about your feelings, thoughts and prayer;
when they only shrug and casually say,
“Oh, you won a prize for a poem today,”
and that was all they did say,
not wanting to hear what comes from your soul.

We poets have two worlds that we live in,
the outside and the one within.
Sometimes we are made fun of,
being this way, “odd, different,”
I have heard people say.

I pay no mind, I have my goal,
to be a blessing to my soul,
so when I put pen to paper in this way,
it’s not for glory or for fame,
but to express to others
that I know they feel the same.


“A writer lives, at best, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all. To transmit that feeling, he writes.”
~ William Sansom, author

Yet, as much as I enjoy writing, at times it has been a challenge to produce a column each and every week. But the thought of not writing is simply unbearable. Grace Paley once said: “You become a writer because you need to become a writer – nothing else.” I need to write. There’s just something in the way God fashioned me that compels me to share my innermost feelings through any means available and with anyone who will listen.

A Czech poet by the name of Jaroslav Deifert put it this way: “If an ordinary person is silent, it may be a tactical maneuver. If a writer is silent, he is lying.”
I cannot be silent.

In my very first Reflections column, I wrote about the sheer panic I felt after Joann Kahnt agreed to publish my column in The Prairie Post. I wondered what in the world I was thinking because I didn’t have a clue what I would write about from week to week! Now here I am, one year later.
Here’s an excerpt from that first column dated July 3, 2003 – followed by a poem I recently wrote.

“A woman preacher I listen to named Joyce Meyer talks about how we should ‘do it afraid.’ She says that when God tell us to ‘fear not’…He doesn’t mean that we should never feel fear, but rather that we shouldn’t let fear keep us from doing what we want to do. I’m sure David wasn’t fearless when he faced Goliath, but he didn’t let that stop him.

With that in mind, I’d like to embark on this journey despite the fear that I feel inside. I’d also like to thank Joann Kahnt, and you, the readers, for giving me the privilege.”

Unknown reader
By Eileen Umbehr

Unknown reader
Who are you?

You who read my deepest contemplations
All my joys and sorrows
You know me, but I don’t know you.

No matter.

I don’t have to meet you to know
You laugh
You cry
You bleed

Just like me.

Unknown reader.

You are my friend.