Fake Plastic Trees & Blank Screens


I'm staring at a blank screen and wondering what to write, which is pretty much how I start at least half of the days of the week.  

The other half of the days seem to take care of themselves somehow---the words are already there waiting for me when I get to the screen, if that makes sense, and it doesn't stay blank for long.  

But the blank screen today is staying blank---the cursor blinking at me like a faint heartbeat, waiting for breath, words, ideas... anything to get it racing again, to bring it to life.  

There's something about the blank screen that is exhilarating when I'm at my best, but utterly exhausting when I'm not. 

It has occurred to me  how so many of us are facing blank screens in this new world we are living in right now.  Those blank screens might not be waiting for words to be typed, mind you, but they are waiting nonetheless.  

And when we are struggling, the waiting, the exhaustion is too much for so many of us to bear.  We are tired, and we are on edge.  We want the world to be better, to be sane, to make sense, and to stop being so damned uncertain.  

And the blank screens keep staring at us, accusingly---waiting for us to fill them, only we feel like we haven't anything left to say, or we are too weary inside to say whatever is in there, somewhere. 

I have had so many conversations with people over the past couple of months that have included these phrases:  "I feel tired all the time..."  "I worked all day and feel like I got nothing done..." "I can't think about [the crisis du jour] right now, it's too much..." 

There's a song that is on about three of the acoustic singer/songwriter playlists I've been listening to lately--"Fake Plastic Trees" by the British artist Holly Humberstone.  The song is a cover of the original, which was recorded nearly thirty years ago by Radiohead.  

These lyrics jumped out at me, so I  wrote them down a week ago, and have been reading them just about every day since:  

But I can't help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run
And it wears me out
It wears me out
It wears me out
It wears me out

Fake Plastic Trees lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Warner Chappell Music Inc

Maybe some of you have felt like that during the past few weeks.  You want to turn and run from the blank screens in your life, the ones that are indicting you, accusing you, wearing you out. 

But you can't run.  Because the world needs you now more than ever.  Whatever the blank screen is in front of you, can only be filled by you, no one else.  So as much as you would like to "blow through the ceiling," or "just turn and run," you can't.  

Besides, where would you go at this point?  Everything is pretty much closed.  

So listen, if that's where you are right now... let me share with you this line from singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson's book Adorning The Dark that's been encouraging me lately:  

Sometimes you have to do the work even if you don’t feel like it.  Sometimes you have to put away your wants and do what needs to be done, which really means dying to self in order to find life.  This is a way of practicing resurrection. 

The first part of that quote is tough to hear when you aren't feeling your best or when you are feeling too empty inside to start filling up that blank screen in front of you.  But when you keep reading, it begins to hit you... 

Dying and rising... it's all about dying and rising.  

"Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die..."  That quote has both troubled and encouraged me from the first time I heard until now.   It's the death part of practicing resurrection that hangs most of us up, am I right?  

But if we are going to experience the incredible joy of rising again, we are going to have to die to the parts of ourselves that want to run... that want to leave the blank screens that only we can fill behind.  

May you be filled with the courage to die to yourself and to your fears, and feelings of not being enough.  May you be filled with the courage to die so that you can rise again to truly live the life that God dreams for you to live. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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