Nancie’s Blog


The Lack of Words


I know I haven’t posted lately.

There are times in a writer’s life when the document stays blank. Hemingway described it: “words… just shapes to fill lacks”[1]? So the document stays open, empty, because at times, life defies description. I suppose Christian writers, or writers of inspiration are most tempted to get something written that ties it all together; that gives inspiring answers; that is, above all, hopeful. Because how can we live without hope in the world?

We can’t. That is why there is much in the news today about Robin Williams…and too many others that we could count on our fingers who have given in to despair, to the “black dog” that follows them (Churchill’s description of depression).

I understand depression; I remember being there years ago, when reality and expectations collided. And yes, seeing truth and applying scripture to my truth was healing. Over time.

But the stark truth is that there are lacks in the world. Lacks in all our worlds. At times when we most need answers, there aren’t any. Times when we look for provision, and can’t seem to access it. Times when the most cherished of our relationships become strained, maybe the most painful times of all. Times when we watch loved ones suffer and there are no easy answers. Not even hard ones.

And in the quiet moments when we dare to be utterly truthful, we look for a few words from the poets; something from the sages of old, from the scriptures. Something to hold onto. Jesus saves. He saves to the uttermost. But it takes repentance, humility. Choosing to ask for help. It takes willingness to be saved.

These words from Frederick Buechner is comforting to me; perhaps it will be to you, too:

            “Father and Lord, most near and most far, listen to our silence before thee as well as to our prayers, because often it is the silence that speaks better of our need. Speak thy joy into our silence. Breathe thy life into our less than life, not for our own sakes only but for the sake of those to whom, with thy life in us, we may ourselves bring life.  Much as we wish, not one of us can bring back yesterday or shape tomorrow. Only today is ours, and it will not be ours for long, and once it is gone it will never in all time be ours again. Thou only knowest what it holds in store for us, yet even we know something of what it will hold:  The chance to speak the truth, to show mercy, to ease another’s burden…Give us ears to hear thee speak. Give us hearts to quicken as thou drawest near.”[2]


[1] from As I Lay Dying, by Ernest Hemingway

[2] Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

About the Author

Nancie CarmichaelNancie lives in a tiny mountain community in Central Oregon. She has written many books including "Selah" and "Surviving One Bad Year." She speaks at a variety of conferences and retreats. She and her husband Bill are publishers and parents of five grown children and 14 grandchildren. Her book, "The Unexpected Power of Home" will be released in the Fall of 2018.View all posts by Nancie Carmichael

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