Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moving A Mountain

I’m sure we’re all aware that faith is said to be capable of moving mountains. 
I don’t know about you, but my initial image of this was something to the effect of a giant hand reaching down, picking up a mountain, and relocating it.
Many years ago I had a bit of an epiphany in regards to this idea however.  I have a whole new view on what it takes to move a mountain now.

When driving through central California on the way from our house to my grandparent’s house we would pass by the town where my dad had grown up.  There was a hill there that was being mined and every time we would pass by my father would mention how it used to be an entire mountain when he was little and they had slowly whittled away at it until it was what is was at that moment.  What it was at that moment became less and less through all our years of traveling until the time we left California and it was little more than a rock pile.
I don’t know why it took me so long to connect that image to the phrase that I had heard countless of times growing up, but when I finally did it was one of those ‘wow’ moments for me.
Here I had thought of faith as this big, gigantic force that could take a whole mountain and hurl it into the sea.  But what if it was something a whole lot more compact, determined, and patient?  What if it was about consistency and perseverance more than might and force? 
Well, then, perhaps I was a whole lot more responsible for making it happen in the end.  Because, if it is huge and mighty, then all I can do is wait.  But if it’s not, then maybe I better think about getting out my bucket and digging in.  Because I know my dad isn’t young and if a mountain is going to be moved in my lifetime then I think I better get going.
So that’s how my view of what it takes to move a mountain changed.

Now, how does that changed view relate to my life today, right now?
Well, I started to think about my publication journey as a mountain that I needed to move.  When I had completed my first novel length manuscript and realized that I had a book on my hands, I thought of publication as a huge mountain which would need to be lifted up and hurled into the sea.  Enormous, out of my control, pick it up and give it my best shot.  But I should have known better.
This mountain, like most, would be more effectively moved with the mining method.  Little buckets at a time, moving, shifting, relocating, until you look back and see that the mountain on which you once stood is but a mound, reasonable and accessible.
It still takes a lot of faith to move a mountain this way, believe me.  In fact, most of the time it feels like it takes more.  Not only do you have to have faith in the outcome, the mountain actually being moveable, but you have to have added faith in every step you take proceeding in the move, and patience which is really just another form of faith.  So it’s no lie that faith is the thing which gets the mountain moved.  It’s just an active faith, not a passive one.
It’s the faith to write even when you have to make time late at night to do it.  The faith that someone will want to hear your story.  Faith that someone will read that query letter that you’ve rewritten for the tenth time and want to hear more.  It’s the faith that the right agent will connect with you, and the faith that the right book will be the one that gets published first.  The faith to keep writing, even when it’s clear that it won’t be your first book that gets the deal.  Faith that your writing has a reason and a purpose.  It’s the faith that it’ll all be worth the hard work in the end. 
So, as I fill my query bucket to move a little more of the mountain, I do so with faith.  And as I begin on my next manuscript, I write on with faith.  As I revise and edit and prepare for what may come, I do so with faith.
Someday all these long nights will lead to something.  I ‘m not even always sure what that something is.  But I’ll never find out what this mountain of words can be shaped into unless I keep moving it.  So I move it, one bucket at a time.  Someday, maybe I can look back and say, ‘You know, that book used to be a mountain of words, but I moved it, with a lot of faith and a lot of work.  I moved it and here is my book.”  Maybe my kids will read my book and know that they can move mountains too.  Maybe, someday.  Until then, I’ll just keep moving and believing and moving some more.

Faith can move mountains, sometimes it’s just one stone at a time.

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