Writing, Truth, and Desire

by Elizabeth

I think that writing is a way for the truth to slip out. Sometimes the truth is knocking at our rib cages, dying to say its piece, but our obdurate minds, tied up in logical merry-go-rounds, don’t give it the time of day. That’s why, in writing, sometimes the logic is of a whole other sort: sometimes almost fantastical, as if it comes from another world. But the inner kingdom of the heart is, you could say, another world: defined by tenderness and truth and quiet simplicity. So different from the light chatter that goes back and forth inside the skull, trying to lead you to truth, but in fact taking you on a dizzy stroll through the labyrinth, and never making so much impact as the small, quiet voice of the heart, which seems to go straight to the core of your being, from which it emanates. The Bible says of God: He has a “still, small voice.” And this is so. God dwells in the innermost parts of our being—where no falsehood can exist. The utter silence is something that both contains and surpasses words. It has no need of saying things in a particular way because it says everything at once. That’s just an imprecise way of describing it, but I do believe in the mystery of God’s coming. His mystery is something so beautiful that should never be forgotten or put aside—as I’m afraid some people do with it. Mystery is something that eludes us, that can’t be encompassed by our finite grasp. Which is a perfect thing, after all; because we will never be satisfied with something we know fully, to all its borders and perimeters. The thing that draws us, the seed of attraction, lies in the unknowable. Because in not knowing, we are opened up to a vast terrain—and that is the only really acceptable thing. We can’t be convinced or liberated or inspired by a limited view of God. Expansiveness is a sign of truth, I think.

On the subject of desire: I believe desire is an essential thing. How can we accomplish anything worthwhile—I mean, to the heights of its possibility—without it? Please let me never be a person who kills desire and tries to live without it—how dull, dreary, and dead! I think there’s a fear of desire, because, oh dear, desire might be a sin¸or my desires might not be the will of God. I’ve gotten all tangled up in this way of thinking many times. But it doesn’t get me very far; and in fact, if it gets me far, it gets me far in the wrong direction. It is good to desire a oneness with God; but to always decide from a place of fear—I’m afraid it might not be God’s will, I’m afraid this desire is not true, I’m afraid I don’t really know what I want, I’m afraid that my feelings aren’t as trustworthy as my mind—is not helpful. And when you get so far tangled up in doubts that you’ve begun to mistrust your heart’s desire, you do yourself a terrible disservice. Because the desire of your heart is one of the most perfect gifts you have been given. It is truly the key to your whole being, the place where dreams are born and the energy for good actions is summoned up and sustained. It makes a person warm with life—not cold with unfeeling. And I don’t ever want to be cold—I think that’s one of the worst adjectives you could ever apply. Don’t confuse shyness with being cold; for one can be shy, and timid and slow to open herself, but still a very warm and generous soul. To me, coldness implies a life shut off from other lives; a severing of the natural tendency of limbs to reach out, to touch—and therefore a slowing of the blood, because the blood has no person to run toward, no body to warm. Warmth is the stamp of vitality; to be cold is the mark of death.

We all have desire, though. It is part of our blueprint. It can’t be eradicated, though it can be covered up and tuned out. After many years of burying desire, a person might need to strip away many things. The detritus might be thick. But always, the desire remains; and it is always possible to uncover it; because that is our purpose, what we are intended to do—and if something is truly our purpose, we are given all we need to accomplish it.

This means that a cold person is never absolutely cold. There is the possibility of warmth in her depths. If she clears away the unnecessary things—which she thinks are there to preserve her—and opens a few doors and windows, bringing in the light—then life can begin to flow. Life’s natural instinct is to flow and move and connect, and when the clutter is swept away, and the impediments are removed, life will move again as it has always known how to do, and always will.

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