“In his Voyages dans les Alpes, de Saussure wrote briefly about the chamois hunters of the Alps, men who pursued a notoriously perilous profession. The hunters were menaced by crevasses on the glaciers over which they chased their quarry, they faced death by falling from the steep slopes the chamois preferred, and death by exposure from the Alpine storms which could gather so quickly. And yet, de Saussure had written:
it is these very dangers, this alternation of hope and fear, the continued agitation kept alive by these sensations in his heart, which excite the huntsman, just as they animate the gambler, the warrior, the sailor and, even to a certain point, the naturalist among the Alps whose life resembles closely, in some respects, that of the chamois hunter.
–Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind
I would add to that list creative writer, a vocation that requires the ability to hold the tension of 24/7, in perpetuity, anxiety.
Will I meet my deadline? Will I be able to pay the rent? Will I be attacked, jeered at, relegated to lifelong failure? Most to the point, am I offering myself FULLY to God?
When the sheep are separated from the goats, will I be able to point to my pitiful little pile of books, blog posts, essays, and say, “This was my heart, Lord. I know it’s not much, but I gave all I had?”
I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. The tension gets me out of bed in the morning, urges me to prayer, gives my life purpose and meaning.
Last week a friend in recovery said something that’s been ringing in my ears ever since. This guy has been in a wheelchair for several years and suffers ongoing health problems.
He said: “I don’t say to God anymore, ‘Help me.’ I say– ‘Use me.’ “