"But love has pitched her mansion inThe place of excrement;For nothing can be sole or wholeThat has not been rent."
William Butler Yeats
You know what that is right?
Has the sh!t ever hit the fan in your life?
It has in mine.
Despite my efforts to be sure that it didn't, it did.
And it stinks.
And it makes me sick.
Some days my stomach lurches until I taste the bile begging, churning, demanding to be released.
This is Jamal from "Slumdog Millionaire". He is a young boy living in poorest of conditions in India. He desperately wants an autograph from his idol, a famous Indian actor visiting his neighborhood, however, Jaleel find himself locked, by his older brother, in an elevated outhouse. The only way out is ... down. "Down" meaning "into the fetid cesspit below." It's an option Salim (the older brother) clearly doesn't believe Jamal will accept. And who would? No matter how miserable your life might be, no matter what challenges you face, everything is worse when it's covered in shit. (from NailtheMoment.com)
God, isn't that true?
But Jamal does the unthinkable. There is one way out of the outhouse and he takes it. He removes a beloved photo of his hero, the actor, out from his pocket, holds it up as high as he can, plugs his nose and dives in, er, rather down.
Who would do this? Who would willingly baptize themselves in sh!t for freedom?
Most of us, thankfully, don't voluntarily find ourselves in a pile of dung.
And yet, somehow the pile of dung has found us.
No matter how you come across it, it still stinks.
But my friends, as I've walked through my share of sh!t let me share with you the truth of the poem written above. Love's mansion is more likely to be found in the place of excrement than it is the sterile places.
Madeleine L'Engle, an author I've inhaled this last month, writes of her husband's illness in Two Part Invention; "The place of excrement. That is where we are this summer. How do we walk through excrement and keep clean in the heart? How do we become whole by being rent? God comes where there is pain and brokenness, waiting to heal, even if the healing is not the physical one we hope for. My husband is desperately ill, so where is the Lord? What about that place of excrement? Isn't that where Love's mansion is pitched? Isn't that where God is?"
Jamal got the autograph he longed for.
Covered in sh!t he celebrates!
That's the kind of character I long to be.
I don't want to hide in my bed
or bury my face.
Certainly moments of grief and tears of torture have fallen from my face
but ultimately I want
to wipe my tears with the back (of my sh!t covered hand if I must)
Celebrate that I've survived,
be happy I'm alive and
know that above every obstacle or pile of dung
I am able and capable
of being the kind of character who,
against the odds,
rises to the top.
That's what To Write a Better Story is all about.