This, too, is grace

Published 7:30 pm Monday, September 20, 2021

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By Erin Smith


If you read my weekly musings, then you’ve gleaned that my family is going through a lot right now. I had a writing professor at Centre who always preached, “Never write it while you’re in it.” I keep thinking – hoping, praying – that this time of strife will end in a wiser, more resilient self. And with lots of good writing material. But that’s for later.

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Right now, the well is dry. I don’t have words, am struggling each week to come up with something useful, informative, or inspiring to share with you.

A dry well is unfamiliar terrain for me. My friend Erin describes me as “someone with a lot of neural firing.” She’s right. I dream a lot, think a lot, sing a lot, read a lot, teach a lot. Words are my sanctuary.

Writing is a little different. When it flows, it takes no effort; the words come through me rather than to me. I’m just a conduit receiving inspiration. The word inspiration comes from the Latin inspirare, meaning “to breathe into.” The ancient Greeks believed the muses, those goddesses of literature, science, and art, literally breathed stories  at us. If we were lucky enough to inhale them, then we became conduits that could share those ideas with those around us through writing, music, or art. Three of these goddesses are the Graces – Euphrosyne (joy), Thalia (bloom), and Aglaia (elegance).

Flowing with that sort of grace is heady stuff. There have been days when I sit down and look up to find that four hours have passed. And thank goodness for those times of creative abundance! For the last few weeks, you’ve been reading pieces that I wrote months ago and kept in reserve for just such a dry spell as that in which I currently find myself. But unlike weekly musings, grace cannot be stockpiled. As preacher Dwight L. Moody wrote, “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God’s store of grace from day to day as we need it.”

While a creative dry spell is frustrating and frightening, I like to believe that this too is grace. Life requires downtime as we shift into different states of being. My current energy is focused on getting through the hardest of days rather than creating new things for the world.

I’ve decided to embrace the dry spell. Grace is not absent. Grace reminds me that this is part of the flow. Grace calls me now to take walks in the sunshine, pick up my guitar, pick up a book of poems. Grace scrunches her face in frustration when I, instead, read the news or stay up too late. But Grace is patient and kind, reminds me over and over to be gentle with my sweet animal form. To remember that doing nothing is crucial soul work in a world that never slows. To know that no drought lasts forever; the rains come in their time.