Friday, April 27, 2007

Upon having returned from Sam Hill

I would say I'm back, but that would be pretty presumptuous considering not more than a handful of people care one way or the other whether I blog. And of that handful, fully half primarily visit this site for its links to bloggers who have a habit of actually posting.

I can't say precisely why I checked out of Blog World. By checked out, I mean not writing or reading any posts. My sister-friend JT would tell me when a particularly funny post somewhere cracked her up, like BigMama's encounter with a rude pedicurist. (Ironically, JT started blog reading because I kept sending her links insisting You Must Read This.)

And My Friend Erin With Four Kids keeps me up-to-date on major events in the lives of bloggy people she knows I care about. For good measure, she also lets me know when other bloggers -- those I hadn't gotten to know -- are going through tragedy. Erin is one of the most tender-hearted people I know, so she really goes there and digs in when others are hurting. She tells me I should read something because it's heartbreaking-but-inspiring writing. I usually don't read it, though, not if I wasn't already emotionally invested in that person's life on some level.

I ask myself why that is, and what comes to mind is ... an oyster. Sometimes I'm a mother hen (are they really that nurturing?) and other times I'm an oyster. A five-foot-eleven-inch oyster with freakishly long toes and a knuckle-popping habit. During, shall we say, the season of the oyster, when I get an intrusion of bad news that doesn't involve my immediate world, I protect myself by not examining it too closely. Instead, I begin to segregate it from the rest of my life, turning it over and over inside without letting it get imbedded too deeply. Present but separate.

The analogy breaks down, of course, when one considers this process in an actual oyster produces a pearl, while in me it produces ... uhm. I'll get back to you on that one. It also makes me less than exemplar in the arena of current events. Which is -- if I may use the word again -- ironic. I'm not suggesting we shouldn't ever get involved in the lives of strangers. I'm really not. But there are times, for better or worse, I'm compelled to tighten my focus considerably.

Look, I was a newspaper editor for seven years. Nearly every day I perused the Associated Press Wire, often reading the worst news I could imagine: children left in scorching cars to die, genocide, rape, abuse of power here and abroad. I went to the occasional murder scene where, once, people gathered in the street told me, "when you get angry enough, it just happens" as if I should understand why someone ends an argument with a gun.

When I left that job, which I loved, I traded in the 24-hour news cycle for the When-It-Really-Matters cycle. I felt like I had filled up on so much bad news in inverted-pyramid form, it would take at least seven more years to unload it. So I let my Newsweek subscription lapse. I don't watch Dateline or CNN. I read Slate online to keep abreast of the most major events. And, of course, my circle of friends keeps me grounded in the 21st century.

All that said, it wasn't because I was reading too much (or any) sad news that I took leave of Blog World. I think it's more because I developed a habit somewhere in the past two years of just stepping away from things from time to time.

Roy and I lived without television for most of the years of our marriage. We've had the cable hooked up for about a year or so now, and as much as I enjoy access to certain shows, I'm beginning to think we ought to disconnect again. I vegged out last night. Oh, sure it would take super-human strength not to watch the very first episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (her hair was brown! staked vampires didn't disintegrate immediately! Xander was thin!), but I should have just gone to bed. Then of course it was continued to the next episode, so I had to watch. Had. to. Then I felt guilty because I had put off reading my Bible. News flash: Zechariah at 1:30 in the morning isn't easy reading. My priorities aren't reflecting well in my time allotment.

I do the same thing with books. I love getting lost in fiction. But no doubt at lot of that time would be more wisely spent elsewhere. God is clearly telling me I need to step away from certain things, and in the process move closer to him.

Last night, when I groggily opened up to Zechariah, this opened my eyes wide: "Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the Lord Almighty, 'and I will return to you.'

It strikes me that it's all good and well to check out of reading or watching or blogging for a while, but if I'm not also in the process returning to him, it really doesn't matter.



JT said...

Wow. Anything and everything makes me veg out lately. And I haven't exactly been investing a lot of time in what God may want to say to me through His Word, but I do plead, and I mean plead, with Him each night in prayer. "Give me more energy...give me more grace with my children...give me more patience and love..." Give me, give me, give me. My list of "wants" may be noble and good, but it's still a Santa prayer.

Great, eye-opening and thought provoking post, dear one.

Judith said...

I've been checking your blog, hoping to find more of whatever you post because I like your writing so much.

I think many of us are too hard on ourselves about what we think others expect. It's alright to post, or not, at our own paces. But understand this comes from someone whose children are grown, and who just took a four month break from almost any expectations. I am so glad you're back in touch.

BooMama said...

Well done with that title. ;-)

So much to think about here. Did you hack into the computer and read the email that I sent Shannon this morning? Because I may have mentioned the whole crawling-into-the-shell thing...I won't go into it here, but I'll fill you in via email.

And for however long you decide to stay - I'm glad you're back.

Kelli said...


I'm still touched by all the effort you and the hub put into helping em find the perfect colors for my walls.

But, I get your need to move away. You explained it really well. I've walked away from things in the last few months, due to health reasons- and I've had to walk. away. completely. I had to.

Still, I'm glad to hear from you. I have missed you.

Any mission trips coming up?

Sarah's In the Midst of It said...

SWEET MERCY am I glad you've written a post! I wanted to email but held back--when I took a break, I needed the whole package. Now I read occasionally, write when I feel like it, and enjoy it. I wondered if you were pulling back for a while to examine it. But I missed you and your posts.

I'm glad you're back, for however much and however long!

Big Mama said...

I'm with Sarah. When I saw a comment from you today, I about fell over. You have been missed and I'm glad you're back around, even if it's just here and there.

Your writing and thoughts really are brilliant, which is why I'm always so glad when you share them with us.

Addie said...

So nice to see your name light up in bloglines! I've missed reading your thought provoking posts. I even checked over here a couple of times, hoping that bloglines was just wrong. ;-)

So often I tend to withdraw as well, and I'm sure we were created that way just so that we WOULD draw closer to God. However, I don't generally use it for that purpose either. Thanks again for your transparency. It never ceases to be an encouragement.

I hope you continue to stop in every once in awhile. You know, in between Sam Hill visits.

Barb said...

It's always nice when you show up again, Toni. Here's the deal. I think you've got this thing down better than any single other blogger I follow and I follow a lot of bloggers. It never occurred to me you were on a break. I know that you post when you have something to say and when you feel like it. Period.

I also know you don't fill your blog up with mindless drivel just to get a post out there.

Somehow, you stumbled across the balance that works for you. You're in all our blogline subscriptions. Look how quickly we all knew you'd posted.

You're such a great writer that it's always worth the wait.

Karen said...

I come over often to see if there is a post waiting to be read.(What's this blogline subscription thing anyway)?

Today I was delighted and impacted. You are a great writer with poignant things to say. I will continue to ponder...

(OK can we say 8 letters in the word verification code)