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  • My gift is and seems always to have been to offer support. Perhaps that began as a survival behavior in a broken, alcoholic family where my role was to be the mirror on the wall reflecting and reassuring everyone that they were the fairest of them all. Over the years, helping people see their strengths, encouraging them to realize their self worth no longer involves dishonesty and people-pleasing. It is a genuine expression of my truth, however, it is also the curtain I hide behind, a way to quiet the call to believe in my other gift, a gift for language, for creating images with words.

    Much of my early writing was fueled by the fires of family addiction and abuse. In my twenties and thirties I wrote to make sense of all that being a young wife and mother asked of me. For the many years following, I wrote to make manageable what was beyond my understanding as my children and I devolved into the black, lonely hole of my husband’s mental illness and suicide. In between there were the seemingly endless winters where all I could do was hunker down and try to survive the silences only to have my voice return richer and wiser in the inevitable but still surprising spring times. Then there were the dry times where I just kept writing out of habit, using words like pieces of wood, building empty boxes devoid of meaning and beauty at risk of being destroyed by the huff and puff of the wolf at my door. Julia Alvarez refers to such writing as “the husk of a seed that does not germinate.”

    When I joined Cowbird, it was the first time I wrote in the public of the town square. That spark of courage freed brightly colored ribbons of words to wave joyously on gentle gusts of self confidence. I was being a good steward to my own gift but lately, the breeze has stopped blowing and the ribbons are limp and still. It’s become easy to again move behind the curtain of my fears and insecurities, settling for encouraging others to find their wings.

    Julia Alvarez says “the older writer has to find new fuel for writing...centering the soul in a larger ground of being.” By now she knows that fuel is found in those silent sojourns in the darkness of the underworld, the only place our creative seeds can germinate. The pianist, Michael Jones, says “we have two glorious tasks; to be good stewards of the gift we are given and to wait upon that gift.” The challenge is to believe as deeply in my own gift as I believe in the gifts of others. The challenge is to wait patiently in the darkness for my gift to show itself and to find the courage to welcome it.

    The question that nags away my days is am I up to the challenge?

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