The day my muse went on vacation

 on January 1, 2024
Angel in the Snow. Image courtesy of Lisa Birtch. Used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed license.


She was always with me, my muse. My writing and my poetry would come to me readily with an idea partly fleshed out, waiting for me to fill in the bits. They would appear early in the morning, somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, or they would come to me while driving or while contemplating some events in my life.

Then one day my muse just wasn’t there. I couldn’t conjure up well-formed thoughts. I had commitments to produce some writing, but nothing would form as fully fleshed as I was used to. Scattered ideas here and there were all I could muster. What was going on? I scanned my internal life to see if there was a bug, a virus of the mind or soul; something that would repel my muse or make it impossible for her to reach me.

Yes indeed. My old fears of abandonment, insufficient resources, insecurity, and the struggle to make my place in the world had risen up from my past to cloud my current life. The death of my husband over four years ago was constantly on my mind. It’s true that I thought of him every day, but normally I didn’t dwell upon it. My mind was now more focused on how to build a life without him, how to contribute my story to the world of other people’s stories, and to maybe help someone along life’s path with all its joys and pains.


But that was also the problem. Maybe I was so focused on the practicalities of forming this new life that I had little receptivity for my muse. I was worried about the best way to structure my life. It seemed like it was ganging up on me and I was cycling back to the days of early grief, when the fact of my husband not being here in person anymore was still settling into my brain. I escaped into television programs and online podcasts. I don’t blame my muse for taking that time to refresh and renew somewhere else. I wish I could.

I couldn’t follow the advice from my friends. It is a life-long reality that I don’t exercise or go for walks or drive around for the fun of it. My tribe is very small. I don’t like to keep sharing my struggles with them, and I haven’t got the energy to find new members for my inner circle. I needed to come back from the pits of despair. Of course, God is in my tribe too — or am I in His? I remembered to turn my worries over to Him in prayer.

I think it’s working! My dear muse returned. Before I flung the bedcovers off one morning, she was there again. I already had a well-formed idea for one of my upcoming article commitments. I followed with a second one and then this one. Wow — three articles in the space of five hours, which included breakfast, coffee, shower and dress!

Welcome back muse! You must be well-rested and refreshed to inspire me so quickly! I will probably continue to struggle with my abandonment and safety issues, but maybe they will recede into the background of my life while you and I — and the Holy Spirit — work on bringing healing words and conversations to those people who resonate with them.

  • Cathy Carphin

    Cathy Carphin is a parishioner of St Peter and St Paul, Esquimalt. She is a Certified Grief Educator, facilitator, mentor, writer and poet. She can be reached via email for healing discussions about grief, trauma and loss.

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