…there came Oral Interpretation in college. It was there I learned how to translate my own personal experiences into a format that was both safe for me and engaging for others. I began by converting several actual incidents into monologues (the regularly occurring “Don’t be Boring for ten minutes” exercise) and realized that others would in fact respect the content, if the delivery was convincing. Real or ficticious didn’t matter to those listening at the time. The perfect venue for sailing out there some of my actual reality and thoughts! While using my lived reality without having to declare it as such at the time and encorporating the techniques of the class, I began to notice the consistently positive reception. This was the encouragement I needed to begin slowly acknowledging that yes, I had written the monologues, and it was in fact my own work, my own life, of which I spoke.
I began including my name on any poetry I wrote. I actually began saving copies of my writing even as I gave it away to others. I began to associate a pen with the idea of freedom and voice and creativity and conversation with something beyond. I began to associate writing with praying.
It was in undergrad that I first began to explore Catholicism. There was a campus church that I’d heard was open until quite late. My idea was to go over late enough to avoid anyone who might ask me any questions. I could and did walk around “looking” at things with my senses. I remember following the contours of a smooth wooden statue of Mary with my fingers each time I entered. I remember the smell of wax and the feel of warm, near, peace. One night I discovered a book, laid open to blank pages, with a pencil along side. What an invitation! I filled pages and pages in that book on many an occassion. I had discussions, asked questions, made observations, shared stories… I thought it was absolutely glorious that a church would provide the space and tools for writing to God!
I now know that it was the community’s book of petitions… An appropriate place, upon reflection, for someone trying to tell her tale.
Hear me, O God, as I write my own creation story.
And God read that it was good.