I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve been doing hard physical work in the yard, reading, walking, knitting. It’s been a bit of a holiday from electronic gadgets. It’s been nice but I have wondered why I’m not thinking of things to write and making myself follow up on them. Sometimes it takes so much effort to make meaningful statements about a rather ordinary life. I started thinking…
Why is this important at all?
Why this struggle to write?
And it was surprising to me when the same kind of question came up this morning in my study of the Bible. There is a chapter in Numbers that is a long list of places that the Israelite tribes camped over the 40 years they spent traveling around the deserts in the Sinai area. Probably over 30 records that go kind of like this “They left the desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah. They left Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth.” and on and on. The question was “Why was it important to record the stages in Israel’s journey to Canaan?” I wasn’t really sure why it was important and had to think about it. Imagine that, having to think…
The whole chapter reads a lot like something you’d find in public records today – place names and once in a while a fact or reference to a happening at that place. To me that means it really occurred and is a historical record. Those people lived and they did that. And there was my answer, or one of them, as to why I write. It’s important to me to leave a record, whether or not I know it’s importance to anyone. Numbers chapter 33 is not humorous, not really inspiring (well, maybe it is when you realize that 40 years of camping is really a LOT of camping), not
much any variety of expression or word choice. It’s about as lackluster as the details of my week’s activities.
I’ve come from a family of letter writers and journalers, some as far back as four or five generations. Because of those writings, which I find very interesting, I don’t have to wonder what life was like for them, what they thought about, what their worries were, what kind of families they had, what hardships, what joys, what fun, what they believed and why. I find things in those letters that speak to me about who I am and who I want to be. Only a few people have access to my family’s letters but there is an internet today that gives anyone with a computer access to what I write. Who knows when it might be found interesting, or by whom?
The other reason it was important to record the stuff in Numbers 33 is because, as the author said, God told him to write it. I guess we don’t always know why we’re told to do things, particularly when it’s God who does the telling. I don’t hear God’s audible voice telling me to record that I cleaned the rain gutters on the house today. What I am aware of is a lifelong love of writing things down and communicating them to others, an awareness that occasionally others affirm the worth of what I write. In a way that is a command to be using what I can do. That’s why I get concerned when I don’t feel like writing, when I don’t know what to write.
You mean I have to write that!? No, please…
I’m just saying I wonder if the author of a book like Numbers felt the same way when he wrote chapter 33.