Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22: Saint Chaeremon

I owe my readers a huge apology for my prolonged absence from my blog.  My list of excuses is long and really unimpressive:
  1. I got caught up with end-of-semester teaching and grading.
  2. I got caught up with holiday preparations and responsibilities.
  3. I  got caught up with other projects, including teaching a spiritual journaling workshop and writing my annual Christmas poem.
  4. I got caught up with my duties as a church musician and worship leader.
Are you buying it yet?  Am I forgiven?  If not, I'll add one more excuse to the above list.  While my other excuses were true, the following one cuts closer to the real reason I haven't blogged in over a month:

     5.  I got caught up with being lazy.

Especially with writing, it becomes very easy to find other, more "important" tasks to accomplish.  I can think my way out of any writing situation.  My line of reasoning usually follows this pattern:

I really need to sit down and write a post for my blog.  It's been way too long.  But first, since I'm at the computer, I should check my e-mail to see if anyone is trying to get hold of me.  Hey, look at how cheap Kindles are now.  I should go to and see about ordering one.  Wow, they're offering free, 2-day shipping for Christmas.  I wonder if the stuff I ordered on Monday has been delivered yet.  I should track my package.  It's out on the UPS truck right now.  It'll probably be there when I get home from work.  I should check to see if my syllabus needs to be updated for next semester.  I should...

You get the idea.  I could go on and on about the shiny objects that distracted me from the business of writing.  It's easy to become distracted  because, despite the pleasure I derive from writing, writing is hard, time-consuming work.  And it's lonely.  When I write and post blogs, I know there are people reading them.  For the most part, however, it feels like I'm stuffing notes in bottles and tossing them in the ocean.  The conversation, for the most part, is pretty one-way.

Again, I am making pretty lame excuses for my lack of communication in the past month or so.  So, I will just say I'm sorry.  I am not dead.  Or ill.  Or angry.  Or in rehab.  I just fell out of the habit of writing, and now I have to teach myself to love writing again.

In some ways, my relationship with writing is sort of like my relationship with Christianity.  I get lazy.  I start making excuses.  I get tired.  Cranky.  Worn out.  I become distracted by shiny objects--books I want to read instead of devotions, movies I want to watch instead of worship videos, naps I want to take instead of praying.  I'm easily distracted from two of the things that are very important in my life:  my faith and my writing.  I'm not proud of that character flaw, but I know it exists.  And admitting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

I'm in recovery right now.  Even as I write these words, I'm thinking of all the things I need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.  Shiny objects abound.

So, I'm trying to get back into blogging on a regular basis.  It's a struggle right now, as I've said.  I feel unfocused, uncreative, and uninspired.  Granted, I can't always wait for inspiration in order to write something.  If I did that, I might as well burn my journal, donate my fountain pen to some poetry half-way house, and start watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie.  Inspiration is actually a small component of the writing process, maybe 4%.  The other 96% is all hard work and dedication.

Chaeremon, today's patron, was Bishop of Nilopolis during a time in the third century when Christians were being hunted, killed, and driven into hiding.  Chaeremon, who was a "very old man," fled into the mountains with a friend and was never seen again, despite extended searches by fellow followers of Christ.  Chaeremon simply vanished.

This saint's story is not quite as gruesome as other martyr's stories.  He wasn't burned alive or drawn-and-quartered.  He wasn't decapitated or fed to hungry bears.  He just disappeared.  My guess about most saints is that the majority of their accomplishments are the result of 4% divine inspiration (visions of Jesus or the Virgin Mary; prophetic dreams; levitation; miraculous healing) and 96% hard work (climbing mountains; building churches and schools; begging for food for the poor; being tortured).  In other words, it's just like writing.

Sometimes grace will guide what you do.  Most of the time, you just have to disappear into the mountains and hope some bright star appears to light your way.

I'm looking up, waiting for my star to appear.  I haven't vanished into a cave.  I have my pen.  I have my paper.  Just add water and inspiration.  I'm heading down the mountainside, one rock, one crater, one cliff at a time.

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