But this weekend, as I ran a quick errand, someone broke into my van. The bag they took contained not only the laptop I'd been using to write, but also...because I was intending to work that morning...the backup drive I'd been using to back up the manuscript. And the almost-finished last paper for my D. Min. program. And my sermon.
The sermon was rewritten. The hardware can be replaced. But six months and 25,000 words vanish. They're still out there somewhere, on the laptop that's likely now being reformatted for sale on Craigslist, or on the $8 USB flash drive that was undoubtedly tossed away as basically worthless, along with my study bible, my notes from the D.Min. classes, and my Book of Common Worship.
But functionally, they're gone.
What strikes me, in reflecting on it, is how utterly they're gone. I remember what I wrote, more or less. Yet those words as they were can now be shared with no-one. The images, the reflections, the concepts? They simply no longer exist. That book will not come to be, not even on Kindle and Nook. It has flown forgotten as a dream, as the old hymn goes. Like tears in rain, as the Apostle Roy Batty put it.
And so, like Sisyphus on a day the gods were in a hurry, I stand only halfway up the mountain, the ashes of my labors crumbling chaos-blasted in my hands. But as I trudge back down to the base of that familiar hill, I find myself surprised at how not-upset I am. Shouldn't I be gnashing my teeth, storming around, weeping and rending my clothing?
Nah. I'd spent the whole first week of Lent reflecting on the need to be prepared for the reality of our mortal existence, and so it just...well...let's just say it worked really neatly into the sermon I'd already conceptualized. My dear little church was most supportive, and I appreciated that.
If our faith provides anything, though, it is the understanding that while as mortal beings we cannot control what happens beyond the span of our own flesh, we can choose how we respond to what we face. I'll just begin again, once I've re-written that paper.
And it was fun to write the first time, so...well...I'll just find joy the process of writing it again.