Three "Our Fathers" & Five "Hail Marys"

{Bearded man sits down at computer. Brushes away cobwebs on keyboard. Stares at blank, dusty screen. Click! Computer powers up. Stares at hypnotic, blinking curser for five ... ten ... fifteen minutes. Eventually, there comes a vaguely familiar sound -- "Tap, tap, tap, tap tap" -- as fingers touch the keyboard.}

Testing 1-2-3 ... Testing 1-2-3...Testing 1-2-3

Hmmm, keyboard seems to be working fine. Now let's see if all the letters are working:

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Yup. No problem there. Let's see it in uppercase:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

And now just the vowels:

aeiou (and sometimes y)

Okay, and the numerals:

1234567890

Yup, they're okay, too. And how about all those wacky characters:

! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) - _ = + [ ] { } : " ; ' < , > . ? /

All right. Everything seems to be in working order. Everything seems to be in tip-top form. Nothing's holding me back now. Nothing's stopping me from blogging away like I've been doing on a regular basis here in "Off the Shelf" for the past two years. Nothing's stopping me ... nothing at all ... nothing whatsoever ... nothing ... except, where to begin.

Hmmm ... where to begin after a one-month hiatus? Where to begin? It's not like I haven't had ideas pop into my head over the past month since my last blog entry. But none of those ideas expanded much beyond the "idea" stage toward the actual "blog writing" stage. I guess a little thing called inspiration has been in short supply of late. Inspiration ... and J&B, which, coincidentally, ran out about three and a half weeks ago (about the same time that inspiration "dried up.")

Go with the first thought that enters your head. First thought ... first thought ... {thinking} ... long time ... {thinking some more} ... it feels like it's been a long time ... it feels a bit like I'm entering the confessional after a long time away from church. Maybe I can start there ... with that notion ... with the notion of saying confession ... yes, sort of like going to confession  ...hmmm ... that gives me an idea ... kind of like going to confession ... hmmm ...

*****

JackBless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been more than a month since my last blog entry.

PriestMore than a month?! What has kept you away so long, my son?

J:  It's hard to say, Father. It's not like I haven't wanted to write. It just seems like things keep getting in the way. Work, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, balancing the checkbook, filling the windshield washer reservoir in my car, life stuff, etc, etc, etc.

Priest:  {Says nothing, allowing me to continue}

J: {Backtracking} No, no, that's not it at all. It's a lie. Lately, I've avoided writing altogether. I shut myself down. I gave it up ... I ... I ...

Priest:  Go on, my son.

J:  Well, you see, sometimes when you're writing week after week, month after month, two years into it like I have with this blog, you suddenly find yourself in your own little bubble drifting off to some distant corner of the universe. And then one day you find yourself mentally stepping out of that bubble to look back at yourself and you find yourself saying something like, "What the hell am I doing drifting way out here?" I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said "hell" ... being in church, in confession, talking with a priest ... I meant to say "heck" ... "What the heck am I doing drifting way out here in some far corner of the universe?"

Priest:  That's all right, my son. Hell. Heck. Hades. It's all the same place. Regardless of whichever "H" word you use. The important thing to consider in all of this is -- What have you learned?

J:  I guess ... I guess I've learned that we all seem to be traveling around in our own private little bubbles. Not just bloggers and writers and painters and sculptors, but librarians and postal clerks and dentists and even theologians, I imagine. Everyone. All of us. We're all adrift on our own little worlds just trying to get through each day from sunrise to sunset. We're all just trying to figure out how we fit into the cosmos around us.

Priest:  And have you figured out how you fit in?

J:  Well ... all I know is that I enjoy writing. I enjoy taking ideas and kernels of ideas and translating them into sentences. I enjoy throwing words at the canvas and seeing what kind of a picture I can create. I enjoy filling a page with words and then editing and winnowing it all down to one succinct paragraph of clear literary thought. Goddamn it, I like to write!

PriestThen do it, for God's sake! Stop talking about it and just do it! You've been talking about it for years and years and years! Get off your lazy, procrastinare butt and do it! For penance, I want you to say three Our Fathers, five Hail Marys, and to write at least one blog entry per week. And I want to see that manuscript currently cluttering up your desk drawer cleaned up, double-spaced, and sent out to a literary agent by the end of January! I'm not kidding!

J:  Yes, Father.

PriestBless you, my son. {Making the sign of the cross} In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

J: {Blessing myself} Amen. Thank you, Father. {Arising to exit the confessional}

Priest:  Oh, and one more thing. That blog you wrote back in October entitled "What Would Jesus Do?" in reference to whether He would rather watch baseball or hockey -- a bit on the sacrilegious side, wouldn't you say? Perhaps you should stick to the Old Testament from now on.

J:  But I'm working on a new blog about St. Paul for next week.

Priest: St. Paul, huh? Well okay, but leave Our Savior out of it!

J:  Yes, Father.

Priest: Now go in peace. {Shaking his head as I exit} Blog writers! Humph!

Jack Sheedy

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