This post is part of a series called Merely Beloved. One of the most inspiring and articulate people of faith I’ve ever known was also a seminary classmate. We happened to overlap during my ThM and his MDiv. It’s an honor to have him here! For more information about the series click here.
Writing for me is a form of communion—a gathering of the most innermost senses of my self. And whether I am randomly scribbling purposeless words on paper or writing prose or poetry with a pending deadline in mind, I have always considered writing a way for me to practice hospitality: a way for me to graciously place my words, thoughts, fears, feelings, queries, quandaries, triumphs out there, in the universe, beyond self, on altars as if they are gifts. Our words are charitable offerings, indeed. In what follows, I offer brief ruminations on writing as a spiritual practice and the ways that writing prompts inspiration, faithfulness and hospitality.
There are moments when I have placed unimaginative and creative words, fragments of statements and full sentences on paper only to erase them out of frustration because they were conjured without a muse, sans a source of inspiration. In fact, it is difficult for me to write unless I sense that the words given are traveling from a deep place within—my spirit; heart; reservoir of feeling; my life world.
A friend once quipped, “You write when you are moved as if there are Ancestors resting on your shoulder pushing you to write. When they speak, you write.” My friend was right. I understand the movements that move me to write as an act of Spirit. And my use of Spirit here is not intended to connote a transcendent being with the power to fill the human, the empty vessel. But, I imagine Spirit as a vast plane of collective consciousness and life-force—where the here and the transcendent conjoin, where the mundane and extramundane meet, where we touch each other and the Other. In the Spirit, creativeness from all of these sources can be found.
Thus, when I am inspired, I write. This practice can be evidenced as a mystical act because it requires that one both leans into oneself for expression and into the expanse of Spirit to locate words: logos: expressions; tales; conversations; and speech. It requires a type of presence-with-self and the universe and is, therefore, a collective undertaking that inspires.
When I write words and affect, which might otherwise rest within self, are released from within and are allowed to travel.. My words move, and so do I. I journey often between temporalities: pasts and futures; here and there; at once and not yet all at once. I move between and among worlds: fictive and material. In fact, I sojourn in worlds that I create, with words.
What such journeying has allowed me to experience is a type of contemplation and faith-praxis that sees beyond and in the present. The writerly journey allows the writer to manifest that which s/he has seen or has yet to evidence and/or materialize. Writing, then, is a faith journey—one that demands of us writers, faithfulness.
There are not many practices that I remain committed to employing, but writing requires of me a type of reflexive movement between my mind, spirit and the page, the world. I’ve learned to be faithful to the Spirit when it moves me and have, therefore, transformed a sometimes extraordinary practice (of writing only when required; writing speeches, papers or sermons because I must) into a mode of everydayness. And I am becoming more faithful, not just as a writer, but as a spiritual being who is learning to respond to the Spirit and calls emanating in my self and the world when I sense them.
All this to say, writing allows me to share with others and in that way it is an hospitable act. For the writer, it can be a practice of charity and humility and for the reader (if the writings are shared) an act that might easily be rendered a gift.
DARNELL L. MOORE is an educator, writer and activist. He is an Editorial Collective Member of The Feminist Wire and co-author, with former NFL player Wade Davis, II, of a bi-monthly column on The Huffington Post Gay Voices focused on Black manhood and sexuality titled, “Tongues Untied,” in honor of the lives and work of Black gay geniuses like Marlon Riggs, Essex Hemphill and Joseph Beam. His essays and poetry have appeared in various outlets including The Huffington Post, Ebony.com, TheRoot.com, Mondoweiss, NewBlackMan (In Exile), Lambda Literary, PrettyQueer.com, Arts & Understanding, Urban Cusp, Gawker and Social Text: Blog.