Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I finally sent the essay!!!

The final essay! I sent it today.


The Essay:



It's taken me three months to write this essay; no small irony considering that technically I am a professional writer with a huge readership and a strangely devoted fan base. It's funny that today, an important one for reasons you'll soon understand, was the day I finally could sit down and complete my application. It's not that I'm just starting. I've gotten almost everything else done. Transcripts sent? Check. Financial Aid forms submitted? Check. Contacts within the university and specific departments of interest? Check. Glowing-yet-sincere letters of recommendation from a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and an executive director of a non-profit who just so happens to be a priest? Double check.

Actual application submitted? Of course not. Why? Because of the essay. I cannot write the essay. I want it to be perfect. I want it to be Hemingway and Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse all in one.

Mostly, I'm just scared to tell my story.

I've got a great story, too. I mean, I'd buy it at an airport. It's got everything; romance, danger, the works. So I suppose I should actually tell it. Well, here goes.

A poor little rich girl (that's me, or grammatically speaking, that's I) traumatized by the events of her youth finds herself on a school trip, alone and wandering around a Montreal cathedral in a daze. I'm not sure what happened before then…how I got to the cathedral grounds or where my schoolmates were, but in the middle of a cathedral built for a God I didn't believe in a country I'd never visited, I received that bone-shaking summons from God. I got The Call.

Two years later, still filled with hope from that one bewildering-yet-wonderful moment of conversion, I graduated high school and left my family to start a new life for myself in a rural Virginia town. Armed with nothing but an ancient crocodile suitcase, determination and a sticky sort of tenuous faith, I set out on my own. I got a job, enrolled in college and --although I didn't know it at the time-- I slowly started disintegrating from a hidden disease. Here comes the gory part.

Three days before Thanksgiving 1999 --my sophomore year in college-- my grandparents who had recently moved to Austin stopped on their annual trek along the Eastern Seaboard and checked into an inconspicuous hotel in my small college town. That evening, they summoned me. I didn't have a car, so I don't know how I got there; but to be fair I don't remember much because it was that evening I collapsed unconcious into a shivering, bleeding mess on the floor of The Hampton Inn in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The next thing I knew I was in Texas.

Slowly I got better. I got a fantastic job and met new people including an older man; the impishly charming president of a respected non-profit. Since all good stories must have romance I'll admit I fell gloriously, deliriously in love and all my plans; college, seminary, ministry-- were summarily dismissed. I had a man; I had an enviable job with a small bit of celebrity that I'd earned through my own talent and hard work; I was quietly, almost boringly happy. Life was perfect. You see where this is going, right?

One non-descript summer morning three years later I woke with a deep feeling of doom. I don't tend to wake with feelings of anything but hunger or alarm-clock hatred, so I when I had a strangely powerful urge to walk a labyrinth, I paid attention. See, I don't like labyrinths. I didn't like them as a kid (too confusing), I didn't like them as a wannabe-devout college student (too time consuming) heck, I didn't even like that David Bowie movie with the scary Muppets (too many scary Muppets), and yet I knew I had to find a labyrinth and it had to be right then.

I pulled up a search engine and plugged in "Austin labyrinth" and hit enter.

Twelve blocks. It was twelve blocks to St David's Episcopal Church and the only stone labyrinth in Austin. I drove there, parked my car in the lot, and did my best not to look crazy as I told the receptionist that I had to walk the labyrinth right that very minute. She nodded, made some small talk and led me down a flight of stairs into a small, sunken courtyard. I took off my shoes, felt the smooth warm pavers underneath my feet and began walking.

At 12:30 in the afternoon on August 10th, right there in that little brown bricked courtyard I received in ecstasy what Teresa of Avila described as the "Wound of Love." It was a confirmation of duty; an ineffable communication of love --and I don't mind telling you--one hell of a wake-up call. My one clear thought?
"I can't believe I'm not bleeding."

That afternoon I received an email from my one true love --it was a tiny little note, just five words "I've met someone else. Goodbye."

I was destroyed for the second time in one day. What happens next? Where do I go?

I go where I've been called. Back to church, back to college and eventually on to seminary, and that is where the real story beings.

I just hope St. Edward's will help me write the next chapter.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Glen said...

Congrats!!
The closer something comes to touching me personally, emotionally, and such-like, the harder it is to commit it to vellum.
Were not large swards of my self still terra incognito, I doubt that I could get many picas out of the subject of "me."
(I suspect that I am not unique in this.)

12:09 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Seriously great essay. Wish mine had been half that good.

12:17 PM  
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12:53 AM  
Blogger Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Great job! I bet they are going to love it.

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(Can you believe we live in a world of comment spam?!?!?!?

4:29 PM  
Anonymous towanda said...

You're going to make a great preacher...

8:16 PM  
Blogger Marshall said...

Blessings, Sister. I have long said that if God has called you, God will not let you go. Indeed, when asked, I have said people shouldn't pursue orders, unless they feel God has them by the back of the neck and won't let them do anything else. Which sounds like your story to me.

As for perfection, Beloved: we all want to do things "right," so "right" that there will be clarity and no discussion, just a quiet, satisfied "Ah!" Won't happen. Embrace grace, and as Miss Frizzle says on The Magic Schoolbus, "get messy, make mistakes." It won't always be fun, but you'll be amazed at how often it gets blessed.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

Wow! Knockout essay! And I like what Marshall said. That's how I experience my call too. Crazy God, she just won't let go.

8:12 AM  

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