ACW

ACW

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Shadow on the Wall, by Deborah Jenkins




"People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better and even take a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth." V. Sackville-West

Vita Sackville-West, (1892 - 1962) was an English poet and novelist best known for her novels, The Edwardians and All Passion Spent. She was also a prolific gardener. Anyone who has visited the famous gardens at Sissinghurst, created by Vita and her writer/diplomat husband Harold Nicolson, will never forget the vibrant flower beds bursting with colour, framed by galleries of slender trees. I love the above quote, because bare, brown earth would have perfectly described my life a year ago and I want to encourage you if that's the season you're in now.

I was unhappy - in a stressful and draining job, with on-going low level health issues and almost no time or opportunity to write. Even when I did have time - I was technically only working four days a week though the total number of hours was around fifty-five  - I had neither the energy or focus to produce anything. If you are creative, you will understand how the days become drained of pleasure when you're unable to think and dream, when the things that breathe life and peace to you are absent. At around this time, I began to have a conversation with another writer in the ACW group. I think I had commented, rather dolefully, on a post she had written and it went from there. It was an interesting conversation during which she challenged me to think about reducing my teaching hours and - I will never forget these words - "...spend more time doing what you were put on this earth to do". I remember dismissing these words summarily, despite her own very powerful testimony of how God had provided for her over the years, deciding she couldn't possibly understand our situation. It was kind of her but this just wouldn't work for us.

But I respect this writer very much and her words left a shadow on the wall. I couldn't stop thinking about them. So I prayed and subscribed to teaching websites, combed the TES and kept an eye on what was happening in other local schools. Nothing. So I prayed some more. And I had the distinct impression that I was wasting my time, that God would open a door when He'd made one to open and for now, I had to wait. 
Bare, brown earth. Could I, like Vita Sackville-West, take pleasure in it? Hardly. But by focusing on other things - family, friends, the garden - I managed not to top myself. 

A few months later an ex-colleague contacted me with details of a part-time job at her school. She had moved a while ago and was very happy. Was I interested? It wasn't enough hours, but I had a hunch this could be right and was encouraged by my husband to apply. The interview went like a dream but I had to tell the Head it wasn't really enough days for me. He asked me how many hours I needed and told me he'd ring me after the other interviews had finished. And somehow, then I knew, I just knew that God was going to give me the job.

I am happier at work than I have been for years and I have three or four days a week to write, The most interesting thing of all is that since I handed in my notice at the old work-place, I've been given so many opportunities for paid writing work. I have not sought them. They have just arrived - through friends, new networks and old links that I'd thought were dead. It looks as though I'll end up earning more in the coming year than if I'd stayed in my old job.

The time was right for me. Is it right for you? If it's time for action, there'll most likely be a risk involved, because He's like that, our Father. While we're interested in safety, He's interested in growth. ("Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

And if it's a waiting time, remember to watch for the shadow on the wall.


"Beauty's not always in a scarlet robe. She wears an old, black shawl: she flouts the flesh and shows the bone when winter trees are tall. More beautiful than fact may be the shadow on the wall..." Vita Sackville-West, The Garden






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Deborah Jenkins is a primary school teacher and freelance writer who has written articles, devotional notes and short stories. She has recently completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and is currently working on a full length novel.. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, who are now grown up, she lives in south-west London with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver.



















































13 comments:

  1. An encouraging post. Lovely photos too. Sue

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    1. Thank you! So pleased you liked it Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Thank you for these wise thoughts

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :)

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  3. It's so good to read this! I am so happy things have turned out this way for you.

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  4. Thank you so much for this, Deborah. I'm in that dark place now both writing-wise (I tried to write a memoir of my late brother but it got too painful) and otherwise (my beloved church is in the throes of deciding whether we can continue and in what form). You have given me perspective and the gorgeous photos have shown me the beauty of winter and the hope of spring.

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting Veronica. I hope and pray your dark place will lighten as the winter draws in and that you see fresh developments at church. x

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  5. Beautiful, hope-filled post and lovely photos too! I love the way you share your testimony of change and how hard it is to see bare brown earth and hope for signs of Spring. I seem to be in a fertile season with regards to helping other writers birth their books and in keeping my blog going. But I am definitely in a waiting season in terms of making progress with my own works(s) in progress. Your encouraging words are so helpful in reminding me to "watch for the shadow on the wall." Love that poetic description of waiting! May you continue to be open to all the wonderful opportunities before you. Bless you, Deborah. :) x

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Joy. You are such an encourager and I'm not at all surprised that God is using you to help others see signs of Spring when they need that helpful word of insight and strength. May you also know direction with your own writing and be able to see the shadow of things to come x

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  6. Thank you for this, Deborah. I am very familiar with 'the bare brown earth' which isn't even neatly dug over but full of weeds and too many fallen leaves. That's definitely how I'm feeling about my writing at the moment, so your words have struck a chord. Thank you so much for the encouragement that things can change. x

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  7. Glad it encouraged you Helen. Your time will come. Keep writing and believing God is using and will continue to use your wonderful talent in His time and His way x

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  8. Thank you. In a week when I am bogged down by the rigours of the day job and writing is once more relegated to the bench, I long to hear Father's answer regarding what I am on this earth for.......

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