They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, that time spent away from someone or something you love helps deepen the affection already shared by the two parties. But I doubt the cliche is really true. Sadly, my leave of absence from the computer keyboard has left my heart full and this blog empty, but I don't think I'm any more fond of writing than when I first began.
Simply put, absence makes you realize just how fond of something you really are. Your fondness doesn't grow; it's accentuated. In the same way that hunger pangs during fasting reveal how much our bodies depend on physical (rather than spiritual) food, my inability to post on this blog has jabbed me in the gut with a yearning to write, a fresh longing for the adventure that comes with a blank page. So what can I learn from this?
I've always loved notebooks and pads. Any shape, size, color; ruled or unruled; recycled paper or new; spiral-bound notebooks to yellow legal pads and anything in between. A tabula raza is to me as the hammer and chisel are to the sculptor or as the unbeaten path is to the avid hiker--pure potential. There are so many things you can do with a clean slate.
I think the main reason I like to write so much is the same reason carpenters like to whittle and painters pick up their brushes: as humans, we love to create. And why shouldn't we? Inherent within each human being, however faint, is the image of God, the same God who created the heavens and the earth with his Word. God has given us his spirit of ingenuity, his desire for newness and adventure, and has encouraged us with ample sources of inspiration, all of which in some way lead us back to him and cause us to give him glory. When we ooh and ahh at the glimpse of a sunset, we give credit to the one who spread the colors across the sky.
Although we bear a slight resemblance to our Father, God is the ultimate creator because he takes things a step further. When we want to start an oil painting, we don't choose a ripped canvas or one that has been scribbled on by a permanent marker. We discount these, believing that their blemishes eliminate any potential they may have had to produce a beautiful work of art.
But God sees things with different eyes. His studio is filled with human hearts, smudged by the stains of sin, waited to be cleaned and transformed into the breathtaking portrait that already exists in the Artist's mind. The way he sees it, the canvasses relegated to the trash bin have the most potential for beauty. Those rescued from deeper sin will love him more. Also, in this act of creativity and restoration he shows himself to be the Supreme Restorer, the One who can conquer all odds anytime he wants.
I love to see the image of God within myself. But I love even more when I realize that I'm but a dull reflection of the glory he embodies. I thank him for the desire for writing, for the creativity which has shown me the image of the Father within me while also making it clear how short I fall of his perfection.
P.S. I hope to get back to writing about China soon. I'm finishing up the rough copy of the journal from the ENTIRE TRIP, so I'll have anecdotes as soon as I'm finished with it.