Not a Moment to Waste

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I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.
~David Budbill from Winter: Tonight: Sunset

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Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.
~Annie Dillard from “Write Till You Drop”

I began to write after September 11, 2001 because that day it became obvious to me I was dying too, though more slowly than the thousands who vanished in fire and ash, their voices obliterated with their bodies.   So, nearly each day since, while I still have voice and a new dawn to greet, I speak through my fingers to others dying around me.

We are, after all, terminal patients, some of us more prepared than others to move on, as if our readiness had anything to do with the timing.  Our small church just lost one of its most senior members to a long fight with cancer, and he had announced his readiness long ago (he liked to say he never bought green bananas as he wasn’t sure he’d be around to use them), but God had different plans and kept him here for a few years longer.

Each day I too get a little closer to the end, but I write in order to feel a little more ready.  Each day I detach just a little bit, leaving a trace of my voice behind.  Eventually, through unmerited grace, so much of me will be left on the page there won’t be anything or anyone left to do the typing.

Not a moment or a word to waste.

At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your fists, your back, your brain, and then – and only then -it is handed to you. From the corner of your eye you see motion. Something is moving through the air and headed your way. It is a parcel bound in ribbons and bows; it has two white wings. It flies directly at you; you can read your name on it. If it were a baseball, you would hit it out of the park. It is that one pitch in a thousand you see in slow motion; its wings beat slowly as a hawk’s.
~Annie Dillard from “Write Till You Drop”

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6 thoughts on “Not a Moment to Waste

  1. You write so well and are such an inspiration to all you touch. Thank you for sharing. I used to write from the heart, but lately the words don’t come as easily. I’m thinking maybe less is more. Or maybe I’m thinking too much.

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  2. Every day I see your baseball going out of the ballpark. Beautiful reminders of the fragility of the silver cord, the golden bowl, the pitcher – soon snapped, broken, shattered. I stop, I pause, I pray, I am grateful. Thank you.

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  3. Somber but realistic thoughts. I believe that we never really know what or how much of ourselves and our imprint we will leave behind for others to wonder about, to keep in their hearts and souls to nourish and perhaps to leave behind for those who follow them – thus establishing a generational continuity, a living chain, keeping the circle unbroken….
    In this way, nothing of our lives lived in and for Christ and His Kingdom, is meaningless or wasted.

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