Saturday, December 5, 2020

Advent & the Creative Life

The onscreen inbox lights up expectantly: a response from another publisher! With a resigned-yet-still-eager-spirit, you click on the e-mail so your eyes can read what your heart already knows: another rejection. 

Your brain immediately begins firing at high-speed as you rapidly configure ways to revise your work and find another editor, another publisher. You begin scrounging around for bits and pieces of time for creative work amid the newborn diapers, sibling squabbles, and endless piles of dishes. You spew out words frantically, just wanting to put something, anything down on the page. 

Stretching your fingers across the keyboard day after day, week after week, all you can do is create--and wait. You wait for ideas to manifest themselves on the screen, you wait for the arduous process of wading through paragraphs and edits to end. You swallow a dose of courage and send out your work, powerless to do anything more but wait...and wait...and wait. As rejection slips pile up, you continue waiting; waiting for the day when the words of your heart reach the right person at the right time. 

You've never been good at waiting, particularly as the cultural attitude towards instant gratification slips into your subconscious. When you first embarked on your writing journey all those years ago, when your small hand penciled a fantasy story into a notebook, you never imagined that this life would be one of waiting. And yet, it is. 

The path of a writer is long, hard, and slow; but there's something seeping through this space, something that wasn't here before: joy. 

You're beginning to find that your personal timeline looks more insignificant when you focus your gaze on God. You're beginning to discover that you don't actually desire fame and glory, but would far rather send your words into the world and then slip from view. You're beginning to learn that this writing journey was never really about you, for it is directed towards the glory of God. 

As these realizations begin to pour in, you grow encouraged, energized. The anxiety about previous rejections or failures falls away as your heart fills with joy--joy that you are doing the Lord's work, even if you will never see its fruits. 

More and more, I am finding the value of an integrated life; of letting all aspects of my existence come together in a symphony of praise to God. I have long been enamored with the rich liturgical life of the Church, but I've only recently begun to realize how many times I have split my reflections and prayer away from my work. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who has fallen into this trap, either. We may fill our homes with the saints, prayers, and songs of the season, echoing our time spent in church on Sundays--but we can still manage to sift out the professional life, holding it apart from our spirituality. 

What if we change this? What if we take our spiritual reflection and bring it into our work? What if we throw ourselves headlong into the spirit of the liturgical season and allow our whole life to be impacted? 

During Advent, we often speak about "joyful waiting." We long for the birth of the Christ-child at Christmas, and we prepare for this celebration with hope. We look beyond the dreary December days to the light of the Advent wreath, and we remember: Christ is coming! Let us wait with joy! 

My heart fills with joy as I wait for Christ's birth, but rather than keeping this joyful attitude confined to my prayer life and liturgical worship, I am bringing it into my work in a renewed way. The creative life often seems like one slow process of preparation and waiting. I could easily fill that process with anxiety, stress, and despair, as I have done many times before. But, as I draw deeper into the Liturgy, and as I refocus my gaze on the Holy Family, I am choosing joy, peace, and hope. 

Whether we are business executives or artists, teachers or city workers, let us all bring the joyful waiting of Advent into our meetings, our classes, and our work. The days may seem bleak and endless, but we have hope. Christ, our Light, will never abandon us, and He will guide us through the darkest days. 

This post is part of a blog hop by Spoken Women, an online community of Catholic women nurturing their creative callings. Click here to view the next post in this series "Joyful Waiting" 


  1. This reminds me of a recent quote I saw from Fr. Alred Delp, a German priest during WW2 who was captured and eventually executed by the Nazis...from prison he wrote during Advent: "more and more, I see that all of life is Advent..." (paraphrase).

    Love hearing about your writing journey.

    1. Oh wow, that priest sounds amazing! Looking him up right now, thanks for mentioning him and his quote!
      And thanks for reading and joining as I ramble along on this writing journey :)

  2. Love what you wrote about the simple joy of doing, even if you never see its fruits. Have you read the Oscar Romero prayer? The author (incidentally not Romero) uses the phrase "prophets of a future not our own." I think it's so tempting to get caught up in the after effects, but you're right, it really is the process itself that is joyful.

    1. Thanks, Samantha! I'm glad you enjoyed this :) I've seen the Oscar Romero prayer mentioned online before, but don't think I've actually ever sat down to read and meditate on it--I want to dive into that now! Thanks for bringing it up!

  3. I love this post! It can be so hard to wait for things to unfold, but I can see how God is using your writing talents to make an impact now. This part struck me: "joy that you are doing the Lord's work even if you never see it's fruit". What a beautiful perspective you have!

    1. Thanks! It really is so hard to wait, and I've been learning that part of my difficulty comes from my desire to have control over the process, over results, etc. My creative journey (and whole life in general, especially in 2020) has been a great reminder that God is in control, and that I need to let Him be in control instead of trying to take over myself.