4.18.2011

Prayer, Religion and the Writer

Church yesterday included palm fronds waving everywhere, and with Palm Sunday came Holy Week. I'm going to keep this post simple, because one of my goals for Holy Week is to take at least a small step back from most of my social media to leave myself more time for prayer and quiet.

Most writers I've read who hold to any religious belief seem to value prayer time and the practice of faith as having a good influence on the writing process. Though I agree, perhaps I should note that I don't think prayer and religion necessarily make a better writer, nor do they guarantee divine inspiration over the work. I feel quite strongly about both of those things. Almost anyone can develop the skill of writing, and my work is subject to every failure and fallibility my mind can produce.

But prayer calms me—when I've not burdened my thoughts to the point where I can't concentrate; the mysteries of the faith take me into the wonder that inspires art; ritual comforts me and builds up what the effort of study and creation tends to break down. When all is said and done, I don't go to church for art or the ability to create. I go for my soul. But what helps the soul helps the art that comes from it—especially if I've got my Plato right, and the soul is what creates.

But talking about the intimate beliefs and practices of the faith makes me shy. I could never do it quickly. So I'll leave you with Tolkien, who put something of the Eucharistic joy into words:
''Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament.....There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires.'' (The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, no. 43*)
*quoting from the Internet, so hopefully that reference is correct; it seems to be corroborated, at least, by various sources.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent thoughts, Jenna, and a wonderful way to begin Holy Week. Blessed Easter to you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Kiernan! A Blessed Pascha to you. :)

    ReplyDelete

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