I've been thinking lately how writing stories is my attempt at making presents out of  life. Sometimes, in the midst of wrapping up one of these gifts, I find that it is pretty beat-up or dirty, maybe even broken, and I wonder who would want to accept such a present? 

I turn the gift over and over in my hands and wonder about its worth. I look under the tree to see that not all the presents are shiny and new. But the tattered ones I do see have been polished and buffed with humor. Others are taped together with spiritual metaphor. Some have been cleverly fixed with both. So I try out the creams, brushes and spools, but they do not work for me. And sometimes, my work looks even worse than when I started. 

Then I get an idea, I'll just make this present prettier by covering it in some really fancy paper and putting a frilly bow on top. At least then it will look good.

Ahh . . who am I kidding? That's not gonna fool anyone. Maybe I should just throw it away and start all over. I mean, what's uplifting about this tale? Who in the world could ever be inspired by such sadness? Where IS the redemption?

But other times, I have a moment of total clarity when I realize, when I remember, that I can not completely control how my story is received. And that for me, for now, it is the writing, the telling, the sharing that redeems. The very fact that I can put it all down, unfold the map and see the whole city -- that's the best present ever, even if I'm the only one who ever opens it.


Rhonda said...

I love reading your work. I identify with so much of it, so keep it coming. I'll gladly accept anything you throw out.

Janna said...

Rhonda, I'll try. Thanks for your positive comments.

Rachel said...

Wow, what an incredible metaphor!!! I've never thought about stories as presents, but you are completely right. In my future work, I will be presented with present after present of people's tattered lives, trying to help them find redemption in their stories. I love this picture you've given me for that process. I feel like I will use it often. Thank you!