Harry Chapin sings the ballad of Mr. Tanner, an ordinary man who works in a dry-cleaning shop. While Tanner goes about his work, he sings beautiful melodies. His voice is sweet and strong. He doesn’t know why he sings; he simply knows it’s what makes him whole.
Like Mr. Tanner, inside each of us is a creative gift or talent. It could be singing, writing, painting, dancing, or knitting dishcloths for loved ones. Whatever our talent is when we discover it and put it into practice we connect with the Divine Muse and our inner selves. It makes us whole.
In the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she writes:
“Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God. . . . God is the source. No human power can deflect our good or create it. We are all conduits for a higher self that would work through us. We are all equally connected to a spiritual source. We do not always know which among us will teach us best. We are all meant to cherish and serve one another. The Artist’s Way is tribal. The spirit of service yields us our dharma: the right path we dream of following in our best and most fulfilled moments of faith.”
Why I Write
My father died when I was sixteen.
He was a World War II veteran. In those days, men didn’t share their emotions. They didn’t let anyone see their pain and struggle. Their children didn’t see them cry. They were John Wayne stoic.
After his death, I looked for a note, a letter—something, anything, that would show me his heart. But there was nothing. All that was left was the final word I was told he spoke to my mother on his death bed: “Love.”
I wasn’t there when he died. I didn’t hear his last word.
But I have grappled with the pain of his death and the fear of being abandoned again, and I try my best to do what he said: “Love.”
I wrote about dad’s struggle with cancer and my efforts to deal with his death in my first book. It was a way of healing the wound left by his loss. I titled it: To Ease the Pain.
Writing became a refuge for me, a way to process the ups and downs of life and find meaning. So, I’ve continued journaling, reflecting, and letting the Divine Muse have his way in and through me.
When I write, I find God somehow transforms the sorrows of life into joy. Writing allows me to see life as my teacher. Writing helps me remember who I am and who I am not.
I write to make sense of myself and the world. I write to wrestle with the questions for which I can’t find answers.
I write to connect with God and my soul and the sacred heart within me. I write to quiet my mind and dump the emotions that overwhelm me. I write because I would rather rage on a sheet of paper in my private journal than at those who have hurt and betrayed trust.
I write to celebrate joy, laughter, and the eureka! moments of understanding that God places on my life’s plate. I write to capture with words the extraordinary in the ordinary.
And sometimes, when God has given me the grace to wordsmith what he wants to say through me, the words spill out into the world.
I don’t write because I know anything special. I try not to preach, although it may sound like that.
I follow the writing style of my mentors, Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. Vulnerable. Honest. Filled with humility that knows it’s the Divine Muse who has touched my writer’s heart and given me the words He desires to say through me.
It’s my hope that by sharing the rawness of my heart, the stories of my life and others, I will come to understand myself, God, and the world better, and readers might find tidbits of universal truths that can positively affect their lives too.
Sharing Your Heart Can Be Scary
It’s scary to share your words and art with others. By doing so, we make ourselves vulnerable and open, allowing people to see our very soul. It makes up open to ridicule or rejection.
Some receive the words as gifts and integrate the ones they need into their lives. Others misunderstand the words and hit the delete button. Some simply aren’t interested. Hopefully, they will find wisdom in another’s writings and musings.
I write so my children don’t need to look for a note or letter after my death. I hope my children know my heart through the words made flesh in me—raw, vulnerable—and, if God has spilled enough grace upon the ink, filled with the wisdom I’m learning from the Creator.
That is why I write. It connects me with my true self. It’s communion with God. My daily bread. It makes me whole.
What Makes You Whole?
What Connects You With Your True Self?
What’s your creative gift, your unique talent that connects you with God and your true self?
Like Mr. Tanner, what makes you whole?
—brian j plachta
UPCOMING BOOK AND WEBINARS
Finding Flow—Spiritual Practices to Reclaim Inner Peace, Balance, and Wholeness, my latest book, comes hot off the Paulist Press in March. Preorder your copy on Amazon by clicking this link:
Here’s a snippet of what others are saying about it:
Donna Chacko, M.D., author of Pilgrimage: A Doctor’s Healing Journey, writes, “Brian’s personal struggles serve as the framework for his outstanding book, an eminently practical guide for those who seek peace and a closer relationship with God. It is the author’s skillful integration of personal stories, his experiences as a spiritual director for many years, the words of his spiritual friends and mentors, and the valuable references he includes that makes the book an easy-to-read book that I highly recommend for all seekers.”