The Way Prescribed

They were in charge of the bread set out on the table, the special flour for the grain offerings, the thin loaves made without yeast, the baking and the mixing, and all measurements of quantity and size. They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord…. They were to serve before the Lord regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them. –1 Chronicles 23:29-31

I am right now finishing up a writing project that didn’t at first enthuse me. An organization asked me to update and revise two books of their corporate history. I like the organization. And history interests me, always. But the project wasn’t terribly appealing. First, because I would be relying on somebody else’s research. Second, because the book was intended for donors and board members—a small audience. Third, because the book they had in mind wouldn’t change the world in any great way, and wouldn’t let me show off my gifts as a writer.

I must report six months later that I have loved it. I rediscovered how much I enjoy the act of writing—the careful construction (and re-construction) of sentences. Even when the assignment doesn’t seem weighty or creative, I take pleasure in writing.

Many writers struggle with this. They want to produce wonderful, life-changing stuff. (Count me in.) Yet what the world wants is short bits for the church newsletter. It wants press releases. It wants scripts for the Christmas pageant. It wants short, not very penetrating bios of the new leadership.

Tedious? Such may have been the reflections of the Levites assigned to make the bread for the tabernacle. They were not asked to be creative, in the sense of making bread that would stand apart from anybody else’s bread. They were to do what needed doing, and do it right. And they were to “stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord.”

If those Levites were to experience the joy of creativity, it would be through the tactile experience of measuring flour and water, kneading dough, and smelling bread in the oven. So with writers. If I am working with words for a good purpose, then I am content.

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2 Responses to “The Way Prescribed”

  1. mindy Says:

    Thank you. Just that.

  2. Isobel Says:

    This also captures much of what editors feel. It is lovely to work on a great book. But there is deep satisfaction in getting even a small report to read well. I will try to remember your metaphor of the Levites baking bread.

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