by Marcia Lee Laycock
“Cultures cherish artists because they are people who can say, Look at that. And it’s not Versailles. It’s a brick wall with a ray of sunlight falling on it.” (Marilynne Robinson, The Paris Review 2008)
When I read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson I remember thinking it was so simple, so plain, so amazing. And there’s the key to be grasped. Great writing is simple, plain, dealing with the ordinary, yet it draws us to the extraordinary, the Divine within.
My brother used to collect odd pieces of wood to carve into shapes of animals and birds. I often walked with him along the north shore of Lake Huron, searching for driftwood. Once I offered him a length of freshly cut two by four. He rejected it. “Look for something with scars,” he’d said, ”something with twists and turns.” He wanted ordinary driftwood marked by its own unique journey through life. Those are the pieces that became lovely when the knife cut into them, shaped them and revealed what had been hidden. Those are the pieces I remember.
And the pieces of writing I remember are those that do the same - take characters who are ordinary, scarred, characters whose lives have taken many twists and turns, and fold them into stories that give us moments frozen in time, frozen into pictures of the Divine. Like the moment in Les Miserables when the priest hands the candlesticks to Jean Valjean - an ordinary man, a convict, grasps the mercy that has been granted him and his life is forever changed. It is so simple, so plain, so amazing that we stand in awe.
And that is the gift given to writers of faith – that we are driven to search out and grasp those moments poured into us from God’s own heart, then use words to reveal them, and Him, to others. It is then that we bring the Divine to those ordinary moments, for ourselves and for our readers. Together we pause, catch our breath, because we all have glimpsed the Divine, have seen beyond the ordinary to a more true reality.
It is a most holy pursuit, one that teaches us as we teach, reveals beauty and truth to us as we reveal it to others. The pursuit is part of our ordinary journey, one that will take us down many twists and turns and sometimes leave us scarred. But it is a task ordained, a gift given in love.
Merry Christmas. one and all.
Marcia will be celebrating Christmas with her family in central Alberta Canada. To learn more about her writing/speaking ministry visit her website
It's not too late to order these ebooks for Christmas -
Missing Christmas - Stuck in a small northern town. Baah Humbug!
An Earthly Treasure - Christmas Future- Will there still be faith? Will there still be miracles?
An Unexpected Glory - A Christmas Pageant that seemed all wrong
The Twelve Days of Christmas -12 Short Stories to bring you close to the true meaning of Christmas