I believe in starting the day with a cup of hot coffee and a blank piece of paper. On most days I find I have pry myself from between two warm sheets and stagger to the bathroom where I rinse off the remnants of last night’s dreams in a hot shower. I’m not fully human until I’ve been up for a couple of hours and have slurped down a cup of hot java. Being too lazy to make my own I quickly shower, dress, and then drive to a nearby coffee shop. I don’t wait patiently for that first steaming, hard-to-hold, paper cup. As I stand next to the counter I spot a tall, vacant table near a window. When my drink comes I rush to my perch, and after an initial sip, I open a mottled black and white composition notebook and think.
Up to this moment my brain has been mostly in survival mode. I’ve probably only spoken two sentences. The first was “good-bye, I love you” to my wife. She has learned that to try to engage me in conversation in those first few waking hours is like throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire. The second was my coffee order to the barista.
So the meeting I have with the blank pages of a journal is when my mind finally grinds out of compound low gear and crawls into consciousness. Writing is like walking out on the porch and sitting down with an old friend where the country fresh air and squeak of the rocker help me reach equilibrium. I know my friend is a kindred soul because we can sit in silence sometimes for hours before the words come. Sometimes they flow freely like water out of a spigot and at other times they drop to the paper drip by drip. Either way, by the time I’ve drained that first cup, the ideas that lie naked on the page remind me of John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Those first written, unspoken words of the day help sustain my own flesh. They give me the grace and love I’ll need later on as I interact with family, friends, and colleagues. Without them, out of necessity, I would fight for survival or run away out of fear.
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