On Sunday our church welcomed a new senior pastor and head of staff and his family into our church family. We've been looking forward to this day and hearing our new pastor's first message. I never expected it to take me to a post on writing memoir. Imagine our surprise when we looked in our bulletin and saw the sermon topic: "Apocalypse Now?" A follower of his blog since we called him in November, I recognized this as resembling Brian's blog title, "apocalypso now." But still...
Following the morning Scripture reading, Brian began his delivery. Using his natural sense of humor, he took us through a litany of apocalyptic elements--natural disasters, serious illnesses, movies, life experiences, and more. But still...
"Apocalypse" defined ~
And then for the first time, at least for me, our pastor defined the word "apocalypse" as a revealing, disclosure, lifting the veil, prophetic, unexpected. I always thought of an apocalypse as cataclysmic, disastrous, catastrophic, world-ending. Never did I think it related to my life in any way. But Brian kept talking...
As his sermon took off, Brian shared from his personal life. Early in the life of their son, Ian, Brian and his wife, Kirsten, learned Ian was autistic. They were told if he didn't speak by age seven, he would never speak at all. Apocalyptic? For them, yes! It brought forward a torrent of questions: Why Ian? Why us? What do we do now? How will we cope?
Suddenly, like a slide show, my life memories began to process. Never before considered apocalyptic, I looked at life scenes included in the current draft of my memoir: verbal and emotional abuses in childhood, parental manipulation, dropping out of college due to illness, divorce, single-parenting, blending a family, several spinal surgeries and more, the loss of my wordsmith and mentor to a savage dementia, but nothing on par with what so many others have suffered. And yet...
Advent fits into this how?
There has always been a revealing, a new journey, a time of preparing for changes, transformation, light shining in a new way waiting somewhere. Yes! Like Advent!
Advent--a time of preparation, waiting, candlelight, the coming King, the hope of a bright star--the season that began Sunday. The time before Christmas.
Most of us spend the four weeks before Christmas in a hustle and bustle, hurried and harried state. Shopping, wrapping, shipping, decorating, baking, partying--wearing ourselves out. Never slowing down to appreciate the fact something big is on the horizon. A day of celebration so apocalyptic it changed the world.
Mining our memories for writing memoir ~
And this is how I realized that, for me at least, the words "advent" and "apocalyptic" relate to the writing of memoir.
To write memoir we research our minds and as archeologists of the mental turf, we uncover apocalyptic memories of life, whether good or bad, to write what we know as the truth about our lives. In a sense, we prepare, wait, hope for memories to surface and fill pages of a book. As well, the apocalyptic in our lives is sad or joyful, happy or glum, painful or healing.
As an advocate of writing to heal, I see these two words as meaningful to the memoir process in that we dig for that which we see as important to our lives and memories. In the process of gathering and writing, we begin to heal. Perhaps another apocalyptic event in our lives. Maybe another light that shines in the darkness of our past. I believe this is the thread connecting memoir writing to the words "advent" and "apocalyptic."
For now, I intend to listen carefully to our new pastor, not only a man of the cloth but also a lover of words and a writer. I think I may learn a thing or two...maybe three!
What thoughts came to you as you read my post? I'd love to know. Anything you want to share may be left in the comment section below.