There’s a scene near the beginning of Ursula Le Guin’s book, A Wizard of Earthsea, where the newly-apprenticed wizard Sparrowhawk is discouraged by the amount of time he spends performing apparently mundane tasks.
“When will my training actually begin?” he asks Ogion, his master.
Ogion’s answer is short, and surprising. “It has begun,” he says.
This is wholly unsatisfactory to the hot-headed and impetuous Sparrowhawk, who subsequently takes ship to the wizard school on Roke at the earliest opportunity. It is only many years later, when he looks back on his time with Ogion, that he recognises the less tangible lessons – and deeper understanding – that his former tutor wanted to mentor.
I recently read a quote (which I think was from Dallas Willard) which talked about discipleship not just being a Sunday thing. He argued that if we are taking our spiritual growth seriously, then what happens during the rest of the week is equally important. If we can’t learn how to be more Christ-like at work (or at home, or in the supermarket), then chances are what we do on a Sunday isn’t making that much difference, anyway.
Gulp. I’ve never been of the view that following Jesus is for weekends only, but seeking to learn how to grow spiritually through my everyday experiences seems challenging. What about that driver who cut in on me the other day when I was driving to work? Or that person I came across online who expresses political views diametrically opposed to my own?
It’s made me think about my writing, too. It’s easy to see that whatever we write, we should seek to do it to the glory of God (which doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be “religious”). It’s harder to understand how we can use our writing experience to help us become more like Jesus – but I’m willing to give it a go. What do you think?