I started this blog in November of 2019 as (1) a place to curate my poetry and short (300-700 words) thoughts on spiritual matters and (2) a challenge to myself to keep writing. It started with a “poetry slam” thread in one of my favorite Facebook groups, full of dear friends and like-minded pastors and theologians that I’ve met over the years. I shared a poem I had written recently, and it reignited my love for creative writing. After the comments section got way out of hand and I had shared five or six pieces, I decided I wanted a place to store them - and an incentive to keep writing. I coughed up the $100 for a one-year hosting plan in order to motivate me to make the most of it, and I committed to posting every day for a whole month. I crossed the finish line on November 30, having learned so many lessons about the power of short-term and specific goal-setting. I even wrote a post about what I had learned from that month.
I knew I couldn’t keep up every day for long, so I committed to posting every three days. As things progressed, the blog moved away from poetry and into longer and longer articles as I had more time to write and started to find my niche. Still, I challenged myself to keep them as short as possible by setting word limits, because as an overly verbose external processor, I tend to write posts and papers with so many words that nobody wants to bother reading any of them at all.
Over Christmas break (I teach at an elementary school), I had a lot of free time to work on the blog, and the idea occurred to me to do a series on the Tao te Ching, an ancient little book of Chinese wisdom and spirituality that had profoundly impacted my ability to be present, patient, and filled with peace during some very challenging times. The idea morphed into starting a podcast - something I had always wanted to do but never knew what to make it about - and I launched A Christian Reads the Tao te Ching at the end of January. I combined the two ideas and started a blog series with shorter versions of each of the podcast episodes.
I kept up my goal to post every three days, with a few inconsistencies and delays, for about six months. Over the summer, things started to get more and more infrequent as I experienced some upheaval in my schedule, but I was still getting stuff out pretty consistently. I also released a new podcast episode every week for just over eight months, up until two weeks ago when I switched to biweekly installments to accommodate my hectic schedule as we start up a very strange and busy year at the school/orphanage.
In the past few months, Beirut has been through a massive spike in COVID-19 cases (a 6000% increase in the course of a short time), a devastating explosion that wiped out a huge part of our city and left 300,000 people homeless, an ongoing economic and political crisis leading to egregious inflation, and a near total collapse of an already weak infrastructure. Our campus has the challenge (and blessing!) of working with traumatized children from poverty-stricken families in the midst of all of this, so working on my blog needs to take a hiatus.
When I started this site, I never imagined it would experience the success it has. Now, don’t get me wrong - “success” is relative. I’m no blogging superstar. But still, having the honor of being published multiple times at Red Letter Christians and Relevant, and then having Spectrum Magazine pick up my series on the Tao te Ching as a weekly column has all been amazingly cool. Having so many readers reach out and share about the way posts have impacted them as well as engage in stimulating dialogue has exceeded everything I imagined last November. Being interviewed on four different podcasts, one of which has a massive audience, still blows my mind. Acquiring nineteen Patreon supporters who are willing to show their support for the podcast and help me earn $115/month has been profoundly encouraging. The fact that seventeen of them were total strangers (the other two are old friends) who found the show one way or another and have engaged me in ongoing conversation has been even more amazing.
But honestly, the biggest success of all comes from knowing I did it. In my 30-day marathon reflections post, I wrote about some of the lessons I learned about goal-setting. Those lessons resonate so much more almost nine months later. I have learned a lot about myself in this process. It hasn’t always been pretty, but I know it wouldn’t be authentic soul-searching if it was.
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure who I’m writing this post for. I’m not important enough, nor do I have enough regular readers, for anyone to read this and care all that much about me greatly reducing my blogging schedule. So I guess I’m writing it for myself. I’ve been feeling bad about not posting any new content for about a month now (apart from the ongoing Tao te Ching series) - but I don’t think it’s because I’m leaving people hanging. I think the low-key guilt is because I haven’t reevaluated my goal even though I’m clearly not able to stick to it at this point; and I don’t want to get back to where so many of us end up in, where goal-setting doesn’t mean anything because we break our resolutions as easy as we make them.
So I’m reevaluating. I am committed to continue A Christian Reads the Tao te Ching, both the show and the blog, on a biweekly basis. I intend to write and post articles every now and then, but I’m not making any specific promises to you or myself at this point. Who knows, maybe things will change, but until then, this is just a bit of closure for me. “The end of an era” is far too dramatic, but at least for me in my own life story, it almost feels that way. I’ve enjoyed this blogging journey more than I expected, and I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I could when I started. The journey isn’t over, but for now, I’m stepping back. So I guess it’s less intimidating and far less restrictive to call it the end of a chapter.
The mission statement of the blog from day one has been to share things that cultivate presence, patience, and peace - and right now, the best way for me to do that is to take the pressure to post off myself for a little while. There are plenty of posts in the archive to keep you busy reading for quite a while if you’re so inclined.
To those who have read one article or many, and to those who have had the stamina to make it to the end of this post, I offer a heartfelt cliche: thank you so much.