Thursday, January 6, 2011

Feast of the Epiphany

Today is the Feast of the Three Kings. I know for many Mexican children, this is a little Christmas, but in the tradition of my mother, we shall have a reading, perhaps a cake with a hidden bean. I daren't bake a cake with a doll for fear the doll will melt. I've been known to do very silly things like that.

I have been thinking of all the gifts we've been bestowed with, and the gift of writing is one. Our dreams and deepest desires and what makes us happy and lost in that activity should surely make us realize what we are meant to do. It makes me happy when young people develop their gifts. Recently we were having supper with friends of ours, both their young boys who are applying for medical school. They are called to do this and have already established mobile clinics in poor areas in India. I too, was once passionate like this.

But fear stopped me. When I was a young woman of 21, even though I got into medical school, I rejected that call because the thought of borrowing $100,000 with no buffer just for my education was frightening. I was taught to never borrow money. There was no option to teach part-time. And I hadn't even figured living expenses. I did the more secure thing -- I got a job in research, got my PhD and paid my way by teaching and research assistantships. But I never felt that same calling. And I never did reapply to medical school. And it is one decision that I have regretted because it goes to my very core. I was called to heal. I believe that when you are given a gift, you are obligated to nurture and develop those gifts. I did not, and that is where this regret comes from. I think if I were a Christian back then, and had put all my faith and trust in God, I would've been just fine and God would've provided (maybe I would've learned that it is okay to borrow money and pay it back later).

God is good. He has given me other gifts. The gift to write. And every time I think of letting it pass by, my conscience tells me to not to give up. Now my conscience has been developed by the teachings of the Church, the Bible. I accomplished a tremendous feat last year. I read the entire Bible. Not that I understood it. Hah! I am showing my ignorance here. It is a very difficult set of books to read. Thank goodness we have priests who can interpret many of these stories. Many of the stories I already know well and their meaning is clear. But there are so many I did not even know and there are so many that are downright confusing. God did that? That's not very nice. But throughout my readings, one phrase leapt at me. "Do not fear" or "Fear not" and it is what I needed to hear.

We are all so fond of making New Year's resolutions. I have one writing related goal and that is to finish my novel revision and send it out to my top agent picks. I am not going to let fear stop me. I am going to say "Yes" to God when He calls me to do something in all areas of my life.

On the Blueboards, Anastasia asked what would be our word for the year. There are so many great words I could think of: faith, believe, trust, balance -- oh, there is much to juggle -- mothering, teaching, writing. But after much thinking, I chose the word SURRENDER because I want to surrender to God's will. I want to live my life with no regrets. Be more holy.

How about you? What gifts do you have? What regrets? What is the one thing you would like to change this year? What is your word for this year? Please share.

Here's a page from the January Highlights featuring my talking animal story Teeter-Totter. I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it with your own critters. The illustrations by Debbie Palen are darling.
Happy New Year, all. Persevere. And keep your balance!


Jen Heger said...

I'm not sure if I have 1 word, but here is a quote I need to keep in my awareness: "Doubt is a luxury we can't afford anymore. You have more power than you realize." -Elastigirl, in The Incredibles.

I know, I know...its a cartoon, but I love it almost as much as I love: "There is no secret ingredient," (Kung Fu Panda.)

Looking forward to reading your novel, V!

Kristi Holl said...

I gave up waiting for the emotion of fear to pass. My motto became "Do it afraid!" years ago. The "fear not!" means don't turn and run--it really has little to do with feelings. So I do a lot of things afraid initially--and THEN the fear passes!

Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog

Mary Witzl said...

I have a hard time sticking to just one word, but for me it will have to be 'work'. One of my unique gifts is finding all sorts of ways to get out of work, and this year I want that to stop. 'Focus' would be another good one for me.

How sad that you couldn't have gotten a scholarship to go to medical school! For what it's worth, I know exactly how you felt about borrowing: the thought of debt has always terrified me.

Vijaya said...

Jen, those are great quotes. I love the one from Ratatouille, Anyone can cook. The corollary to that is, of course, "Anyone can write." And it's true. We all have stories to tell. It's all about the craft. I'm so glad I can share my novel with you.

Kristi, I am going to borrow and use your "Do it afraid" because you are right. Fear does pass. It's because we have to remember we are not alone. There is that lovely David Haas song. "Do not be afraid, I am with you." I should sing it more often.

Mary, work and focus are both great words. One of my favorite quotes by Khalil Gibran is: Work is love made visible. And when you do the work you love, you will be able to focus.

It's funny how writing brings clarity to thoughts. I finally understand what regret is all about -- not honoring your deepest desires and these come from God. Thankfully, God gives us second chances.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Vijaya - I followed the link to your blog from Kristi Holl's and am so glad I did. I really enjoyed your post. I can completely relate to that fear of putting your work out there, but I can see by your publishing credits that you are a very talented author on many levels. Have faith in yourself - I bet you can do it!. All the best of luck... and tell me when your novel comes out :)

Marcia said...

What a neat story! I read as much of it as shows in the picture. :) And what a neat post -- so much to chew on here. My word is "write." I'm not the most practical person who ever came down the pike, and I think God gave me a very concrete word instead of a more ethereal one on purpose.

I'm fortunate to have no really big regrets. BUT I spent several periods in my life just diddling at my writing instead of digging into it. I could/should probably be better published than I am at this point. However, I never gave up life for writing, and who knows, maybe this was the right way.

Vijaya said...

Susanna, thanks for visiting and encouraging me. Actually, I often swallow my fear and "do it afraid" like Kristi but I have a lot more to learn about trusting the Lord. Believe me, when my book is out, I will shout it out to the world!

Marcia, "write" is a great word. Like you say -- it is practical and serviceable and writing will beget more writing.

You are right to not give up life for writing -- it's all about priorities, no? The fact that you have no big regrets means that you did it right.

I should add that actually I tend to dive in fearlessly. But I have a couple of big regrets in my life and I can trace them all to fear and not doing what I was called to do.

Anonymous said...

Vijaya! Love this post. I'm not into New Year's resolutions anymore. I used to be...but they were like an albatross around my neck!

Like you, I want freedom to move and breathe as the Lord leads. I think your word for the year is perfect: Surrender.

Looking forward to your posts this year. They always bring me joy!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Thanks for this post, Vijaya. I needed to hear that it's good to follow callings even when we don't completely understand them, and even when they're hard to follow through. Our callings are gifts from God.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I hope you're feeling well!


Vijaya said...

Donna, I didn't realize that goals were weighing you down. It is good to let the Lord lead us ... and soemtimes they take us away from the path we carve for ourselves. It is so "freeing" to surrender to him. Such a paradox. One would think it is defeatist, but you win.

Amy, the ways of God (as St. Paul says) are completey inscrutable. But I am a baby Christian and learning to follow him. It is a birthday weekend for me and perhaps this is why I am so introspective, taking stock of everything. It's been a rough week headache-wise -- they come and they go, but I have strength to cope. I think of you every day, as your delivery approaches.

Faith E. Hough said...

Wonderful post! In college, my roomate kept a note on our bulletin board which said: "BE NOT AFRAID" in bold letters. (I was blessed to go to a Catholic college, where people regularly did that kind of thing...) It really kept me grounded and focused on what was important.
I think it's hard for people to understand that sometimes borrowing money for education, putting time and money into learning and developing oneself, is really a type of investment. No one thinks it foolish for someone to invest thousands of dollars in the stock market--but risk a loan for med school? Pay $200 for a writers' conference? Crazy!
I'm so glad you're finding the strength to live your vocation now!

Suma Subramaniam said...


What a touching post. Love your motto this year.

Mine is - " Keep doing what you enjoy – you never know who is watching, reading, or listening, that can have a positive impact on your life " - (From Julie and Julia)


Vijaya said...

Faith, thanks for the encouragement. Even the mistakes I've made I can use for good ... I got my foot into the door with my science writing.

Suma, doing what you enjoy is being true to your heart, no? I enjoyed that movie very much.

Anonymous said...

OOOOH! I missed the last part of your post. Congratulations on the mag story! YAYAYAY!!

Vijaya said...

Thanks, Donna.

Molly/Cece said...

Hmm. I don't have one word for the year but I always like SINGULARITY. So I will list that here. I reread Pride and Prejudice as a new year's goal. It is still a great read.

Evelyn said...

What an inspiring post, Vijaya! Thank you. And what inspiring comments others have added. My challenge phrase for the year comes from Romans 12:11--"Be aglow with the Spirit." I love the image of that. And I have so far to go to make it a reality in my own life. But with God's help I'll make progress.

I'm sorry you didn't get to follow your dream of being a doctor, but being a mother and being a writer are callings from God to you as well. And you're following them admirably. I love your story in Highlights! What a great idea!

My regrets in life are times I've been unkind. Hopefully God helps me learn from my regrets to be more loving.

I pray your headaches will be better, V.

Vijaya said...

Molly, Singularity makes me think of hyperbolic mathematical amazing stuff of cosmic proportions! Great stuff. And Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorties. I've not read that since high school. I suspect as a grown-grown up, I would read it quite differently now.

Ev, as always your thoughts amaze me. The regret of being unkind, wanting to be more loving. Yes! That. Because love shall conquer all. Once we perfect that, in heaven, of course, we shall be aglow with the Spirit.