“We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can – namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us.” ~ Saint Teresa of Avila

Despite my desire to write, I’m a great one for finding every distraction possible to steer myself away from my writing desk. The plants need watering, there’s always laundry to tend to, teeth to floss (thank goodness) and when all else fails…clean the refrigerator.  

Today I discovered the one distraction that sent me running back to my writing desk. No sentence too elusive, no punctuation queries that a quick glance in Elements of Style can’t resolve, so what if I’ve only one paragraph to show for an afternoon’s work? Sweet relief compared with the challenge of untangling Christmas tree lights! With teeth clenched and brow furrowed, I surrender after what feels like hours but is actually only 20 minutes. I stand surrounded by strands of lights in various degrees of entanglement in a very small amount of square footage.

In this moment of complete and utter surrender I begin to see how these tangled lights represent the myriad thoughts and ideas within me, all desperately clamoring to transform first into words and then sentences. I know that after a few fits and starts I will untangle the lights. I do it every year because a tree filled with hundreds of tiny white lights brings me such delight. It’s worth the energy and effort it takes.

I imagine a night sky filled with twinkling stars as I wrap strand after strand around each branch from top to bottom. At long last, with the room lights turned down low, anticipation rivaling the Griswold’s holiday light extravaganza, the tree lights come on and magically the heavens are within my gaze, the earlier unraveling forgiven.

The same holds true for my experience of writing. Resistance is always there to greet me, cleverly disguised as harsh critic, procrastinator or distract-er extraordinaire ready to sabotage every sentence. Self-sabotage is a formidable foe, yet my heart is equally powerful in its desire and determination. Eventually I write through the resistance, committed to writing because I feel myself come alive as the words and sentences unfold across the page. I’ve untangled my inner lights one more time, and it was worth the wrestling match with my ego to allow my voice a place in the world.

Resting in the quiet beauty, I take joy in the gift this tree and its lit branches offer. May this season of Advent hold you in its stillness as our hearts begin their gentle turning toward the light.

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