Monday, August 29, 2011

The Gut Wrenching Moment of Yes

The moon hangs over the empty sea, and the car battery hums occasionally to remind us of where we are. We stare at the ocean and listen as waves kiss the shoreline, snatching a bit of sand on their return journey. It's the same place we were in February, when I whispered to her the secret hope that lives inside me: how I want to be a writer. How I would die if I couldn't write. How if I was brave, I would write and write and never stop. And I would spend my life in the midst of characters and consonants, learning to tell the stories I have inside me.

It was in February that I began to write in earnest what I fondly call, "the myths" - my retellings of the older, well-worn stories. I weave them fresh with twists and turns, listen to Eurydice and Apollo talking to each other, wait for Demeter and Persephone to guide me to their next conversations. It was then that I felt the first flicker of what living the "yes" might be like.

It is a gut wrenching yes. It is a yes that abandons the practical. A yes that forsakes the safe for the wild, the known for the possible, the familiar version of Hilary for the daring, daunting, heart-beating-in-heady-anticipation Hilary.

Tonight we are here at the same stretch of ocean again, and she remembers my promise. The promise to live the gut wrenching yes, and never stop, not for one moment, not to regret or reconsider, not to panic, not to waver. She looks at me with her soft brown eyes and says, "You hear Him calling?" I nod. She smiles and says, "Then go." It's Italy we're talking about, actually. Going to Italy, somehow, after school, between or in the midst of what's next. Doing the impossible, the impractical, and finding a way to get to Italy next year. To go, and to write. To learn the language, to steep myself in the bricks and trees and the sound of the fields and to soak it all in, and write from it. I complain of the piercing clarity - that it seems so obvious, so important, to go there, like some singular refrain I can't stop singing - yet how could I?

I go quiet, watching the waves, and listen for a moment to the clamoring voices in my head. The one that says, "What if no one ever cares about what you write?" The one that says, "Wouldn't they all be disappointed if you didn't go straight into graduate school?" And the one far at the back that whispers, "After all, Hilary, it isn't what makes sense." I keep watching the waves, in and out, in and out, and then I hear the other voices. The ones that say, "Go to the sea, Hilary." "Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." and the still, smallest voice, the one nearest silence, when I can just barely reach out to feel the salty wind at my fingertips - the one that says, "Behold, I am with you always."

Could this be it? I wonder, as I turn back to my friend and we listen to each other dream a bit wider, talk about the ending of Orpheus & Eurydice, the last stanza of her newest song. Could it be, that if I say "yes" to seeking after the seemingly impossible that I will find the Hilary I'm longing to be?

This is the gut wrenching moment of yes. This is the moment when we promise ourselves to source our life from nothing less than Him. To step out off the cliff and trust the wind and trust our hearts and fill our lungs with the harsh clean air...

For when we push beyond our wild expectations we discover that we are spun of such stuff as dreams are made of, and so much more, that our hearts have a gravity that calls to us, that we each have a something that we must do. A thing that flickers in us, waiting to catch flame.

This is the gut wrenching moment of yes. 

Will you say yes, too?


  1. "I complain of the piercing clarity-that it seems so obvious, so important..."

    This is good writing, Hilary.

    And, you know what? There's beautiful peace just on the other side of that gut-wrenching yes.

    Best wishes.

  2. praying for you, hilary. have courage. hold to your dreams. and know that He walks with you. and holds you. always.

  3. You been reading Ulysses?

  4. Ah, to return to Italy... If He called me there, in a heartbeat I would say yes.
    To dwell in Italy, soak in the language, and breathe, wander, and WRITE... this is a good dream. A worthy pursuit. Do it.

  5. lovely, as always. convicting, much needed.


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