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The Healing Work of Memoir Writing

When I embarked on this work of writing a memoir, I knew it would be a cathartic and poignant path. 

My book is about parenting my son, Ben, who was born with Down syndrome, adopted by us, and who has proved resilient and spirited throughout many medical challenges, some of which are rare. The premise of the book is that even in the heart sickness that accompanies deferred hope, that a tree of life can blossom and thrive. 

I’m reading other memoirs as as I write, in varying genres such as the running memoir by Haruki Murakami, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”, and Paul Kalanithi’s “When Breath Becomes Air”. As I read I’m drinking on style, syntax, and voice, and discovering my own, an exhilarating process. I also pay close attention to the flow of the ride a good memoir delivers. My hope is to make my own half as enjoyable as the books I’m reading. 

What’s more, as I travel through time, meeting myself as an old friend, I am granting myself grace that I often reserve only for others. I think things like, “Oh sweet mama, you were so tired, and you just kept trying.” This results in serious self validation, and those who know me understand that validation is my favorite drug. 

But the most beautiful part of this work is fleshing out the theme.  I am in a spiritual drought, but reminding myself of why I have chosen to follow Christ’s example has awakened my soul. When I reinvestigate topics which have informed my character, such as Christ’s unconventional wisdom turning legalism on it’s head; or his years of redemptive ministry preceding the act which represents the redemption of the world; but mostly his pattern of bringing shalom to chaos as a demonstration of how we are supposed to operate in the world. 

I had lost sight of these anchors which had kept me stable in previous storms. The act of dusting these lost relics off and enjoying their beauty has perhaps been an agent of shalom in the chaos of my heart and mind. 

I started off determined, and I continue moving forward in joy and anticipation. This path has been littered with treasure, and has taught me to seek treasure in every step. 

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