“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
– Thomas Mann
by Ed Horstmann
This comment by the German writer Thomas Mann is a helpful reminder that there will not likely come a day for me when writing will suddenly seem easy. The craft of putting words together in ways that are both meaningful and pleasing takes time and effort. Writing is what writers do, and it cannot happen if the writer does not show up, and it has to happen even when we want to bolt and have done with the whole thing once and for all.
So much of life has to do with showing up and doing difficult things even, and especially when, we do not feel like doing them at all. The ministry of Jesus started with the act making himself available to the mystery of God and the beauty and terror of the world. So that even before the waters of baptism had dried on his forehead, he was cast into the wilderness for a time of testing and preparation.
“Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And from the heavens came a voice saying, “Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” (Mark 1: King James Version)
So, at the outset of Jesus’ ministry there were beautiful moments of affirmation and terrifying days out in the wild. This is what faith looks and feels like. And none of it happens if we are not willing to show up. Just as Jesus would never once have reached out to others with his healing touch if he weren’t willing to show up where people were hurting and harmed.
Brené Brown, whose book The Power of Vulnerability has become a recent bestseller, has said that, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
This is what Jesus did at the outset of his adult life: he showed up and let himself be seen. Not everybody who made his acquaintance agreed with him or supported him. But by showing up, at his baptism and day after day until his death and through his resurrection, he brought the power of love into the world in a thousand different ways. We can show up like that, too. Doing so will bring satisfaction to us and hope and healing to the world where we live, move, and have our being.