These days, the making of a modern essayist follows a similar path:
Person, unconventionally whip-smart with opinions, grows up in an environment where their silence is more valued. Whether due to disenfranchisement or simple demographics, person is always told they talk too much. Person finds their way to The Internet where people take notice of said whip-smart opinions, now allowed to flourish un-edited. Person gets asked, “why don’t you contribute said whip-smart opinion to this more organized medium?” From there the mediums get bigger and more organized until a book emerges. Many who worked to silence said essayist in their youth emerge to congratulate, as they “always” knew they’d make something of that big mouth. We revile in lessons of life and observations of pop culture as told through the lens of the whip-smart observer, until the next one emerges to tell a new tale.
If this sounds like shade, it is not. Often people need to be taught how to think, need these interpreters to make this big world-with its constant noise and never-ending stream of useless information-small enough to understand their place in it. To cut through the din of propaganda and lay some sense plainly at their feet. I enjoy them, I learn from them, and I need their collective anchor to keep me in the real world.
But there are others.
Others for whom the path was not straight and it was The Words that were their North Star, lighting their path out of the dark. For whom life has brought low and dragged through and derailed and derailed. Who’ve seen every best-laid plan brought to dust. Who have found themselves on the floor time and time again trying to find a new, more effective glue to piece their tender hearts back together. Who have PhD’s in new beginnings, never knowing if the next break will break them. What they do know is if they have nothing else; if the world is ash and they can’t see through the smoke, they can pick up their pen, or brush, or camera, and art till the dust settles and their path clears.
Where the Modern Essayist exists to make sense of the outside world these individuals write to make sense of their inner world, and share their lessons in self-discovery in hopes it will help you discover more of yourself. You would never hear them talk of stumbling into writing but more discover the words were with them all along, cutting a path or lighting the way. And when you cannot see the forest for the trees, their words help you find your own light in the distance. I keep them with me as well; for when I find myself too deep in my head to make a way, they provide a light when all other lights have gone out.
Which brings me to Raegan Mathis, and The Book of Tiny Prayers. Whether you pray to God, a god or meditate to find the answer in the Universe or yourself, Reagan’s timely book of prayers, prompts and musings breathe life into the words you may be finding coming up short at the moment. I’ve walked with Mathis all the way from her blog “To Rae, With Love” to “Prayers” and she has always found a way to speak to my present life, whether she’s known it or not. Rae has taken her readers with her as she bled, broke and ultimately rose, and her first book calls us to pray together as we move forward in this unprecedented and challenging time.
As is my way for any book of writing prompts, I make my way through by opening the book to a random page and letting the prompt inspire my pen. Today’s was a prayer for peace and well-being, with the message that “Fear Has No Place Here”. It prompted me to hold on to the joys of the moment; my smiling family in group chats, the knowledge that today, my friends are safe . Moments, after all, are all we have right now.
Mathis’ “The Book of Tiny Prayers” is currently discounted on her website. Click HERE to purchase for yourself or a friend.