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a social work free write

Professor just asked us to write about our identity for five minutes.

a free write, just anything that comes to mind.

I guess the first thing I can tell you about my identity is that I don’t know who I am (friends reading this, that isn’t a cry for help, it’s not an invitation to ask me to sit on your lap as I cry and tell you everything I’d like gifted to me this year).

It’s just true.  And I challenge you to own up to your own brokenness because I’m willing to bet sometimes you don’t really know who you are either.

If you look in the bathroom mirror long enough and say your name enough times – watching red lips move along the creases of those syllables (Ryan…ryannnn) –  you won’t recognize the person staring back at you.  You have days when you can’t even see your hand in front of your face (and it’s broad daylight outside), but that’s okay because maybe that’s what it is to be human.

We talked a lot about writing today in class (rain’s drumming crazy time outside on the pavement right now and I’m plagiarizing somebody else’s work).

People say I’m a writer.  But everybody can write.  Everybody is a writer.  My secret is that you don’t know that yet.

People call me brave for authentically admitting I’m lost and broken (I’m not just projecting).  But I’m only appreciated for it because few of us ever admit our incertitude.  My secret is that we’re all lost and broken and we really have no idea what we’re doing here.

Maybe that’s why there’s such a thirst for authenticity (that’s sated in the arts!), because we’re all wearing these masks and keeping ourselves hidden from the rest of the world.

I think that’s one of the most appealing things about the Christian faith to me, that the Church is essentially a group of people made up of the salt of the earth – some of us are good, some of us are bad,  some of us are trapped somewhere in the middle, trying to find a voice and some semblance of forgiveness for ourselves.

How awesome it must have been to see Jesus, how terrifying it must have been for religious people to talk with him. I imagine he had one of those cutting voices that stopped you in your tracks in the plurality of your lies and fancy clothes and finely pressed linens and called you out:

“you, you right there – you have something dark inside of you, something you’ve never told anyone about.  And I know about it and I still love you.”

And then we betray him three times before the cock crows.

I think I find a lot of my identity in being a writer because it feels good to get this gunk out of me and onto paper, the Internet, whatever.  Studies have shown that those who express themselves through writing have lower rates of anxiety, depression, etc.  Writing is healthy for you, it can be an act of healing.

I’ve been thinking about this: what if we see writing, like all good creation, as an act of worship.

I mean, you think about the mark of a good leader, we say it’s delegation: training and trusting others enough to let them take the reigns of their fate into their own hands.

But a really good leader, that’s someone who creates other leaders (as the good storyteller tells a story that will lead to more stories being told).

Good leaders make leaders who can lead others and make other leaders…kind of like how our good Creator creates creatures who are also capable of creation.

If we recognize creation as an act of worship (art as prophecy, storytelling as sacred scripture…), we can find a colorful, surprising realization of heaven right here in the midst of our sloppy attempts to order and to make sense of this big, beautiful universe.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. tel #

    Hi Ryan: So glad my guest presentation inspired your writing today! The linkages of creativity, the arts, social work practice, and the ways and means that help us all to “become” better human beings continue to be something I am strongly passionate about. Thanks for linking us to your site…look forward to your continued presence in class! 🙂 -tel

    April 19, 2013
  2. kkrew #

    your gift is definitely writing….and insight…

    April 24, 2013

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