5/3/14

1 A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I picked up a book the other day, sat down, and started reading. And I didn't stop reading until I finished the book. I was totally enthralled. And although I tend to read a lot, it's actually pretty rare when I'm enthralled enough with a book to read it completely in one sitting. (The last time I did that was one of The Hunger Games books, I think. Go figure.)

Anyway, the book was A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.
 

I guess you'd say it's a book about writing; the cover blurb says "what I learned while editing my life." So it's a book about writing--about the story--but perhaps it's more so a book about living--about how to live--with a little religion thrown in there because, honestly, who among us can question the meaning of life without that?

I marked a few passages and thought I might share them. (Hopefully Mr. Miller won't mind. The following words are all his, not mine.)

Page 59:

When Steve, Ben, and I wrote our characters into the screenplay, I felt the same way I hope God feels as he writes the world, sitting over the planets and placing tiny people in tiny wombs. If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.
Candles burning at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes
Pages 86-87:

You can call it God or a conscience, or you can dismiss it as that intuitive knowing we all have as human beings, as living storytellers; but there is a knowing I feel that guides me toward better stories, toward being a better character. I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness.

As a kid, the only sense I got from God was guilt, something I dismissed as a hypersensitive conscience I got from being raised in a church with a controlling pastor. But that isn't the voice I'm talking about. That voice really was the leftover hypersensitive conscience I got from being raised in a church with a controlling pastor.

The real Voice is stiller and smaller and seems to know, without confusion, the difference between right and wrong and the subtle delineation between the beautiful and the profane. It's not an agitated Voice, but ever patient as though it approves a million false starts. The Voice I am talking about is a deep water of calming wisdom that says, Hold your tongue; don't talk about that person that way; forgive the friend you haven't talked to; don't look at that woman as a possession; I want to show you the sunset; look and see how short life is and how your troubles are not worth worrying about; buy that bottle of wine and call your friend and see if he can get together, because, remember, he was supposed to have that conversation with his daughter, and you should ask him about it.
Page 99:
Candles burning at the Church of the Nativity

Here's the truth about telling stories with your life. It's going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you're not going to want to do it. It's like that with writing books, and it's like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.
Candles burning at the altar at the traditional site of Golgotha, within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

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