Writing in the Margins

A few years ago, I found a song called “Writing in the Margins” by songwriter named John Gorka. I love the way that I am constantly challenged creatively when I hear it.  He sings:

I am writing in the margins
Notes to me and you
Cause the pages are all filled
With new orders coming through
I am writing in the margins
Notes to you and me
So maybe we’ll remember
The good that didn’t have to be

Every time I hear the song, I find that my mind moves through several different metaphors. I think about journeys through the Scriptures and how on some pages, the margins around the verses are completely filled. Each time I reread some passages, I find all these memorials that remind me of insights I have gained. Sometimes they have to do with particular things I was struggling with at that moment. I also think about my old journals. I do not journal as much as I used to. It is a hard habit to get back into when it falls out of the routine. I love to write and find that it makes me more creative and more healthy, and yet like flossing or any other habit, it takes a lot of discipline until the routine becomes set.

The bigger metaphor that comes to mind is more of a life habit of leaving margins. I imagine that time is one reason that I write less now than I used to. Charlie certainly keeps us busy. It is so much fun chasing him around when we are not teaching and carrying out other responsibilities with work at Sripatum University. We get more plugged in at church each week it seems, getting to know other families, helping out with music and the kids ministry.  Also, we are seeking to spend more time with families who are in difficult situations having fled to Bangkok as refugees seeking protection via the U.N. All of these things are great, but they push our story to the edge of the page a lot of days.

Books have margins so that there is space to write and process thoughts and reactions about what is occurring in the story we are reading. Likewise, I have found that it is a good practice to build margins around the stories that we are living. Margins provide rest and space for us to process and the ability to be flexible. When my life story pushes to the edges of the page, I feel I am literally on the edge a lot of the time. As the pages turn, I miss some things because my fingers cover over some of the story when they grip the page. In these cases, I might not realize that I am holding in my hands the realization or accomplishment of a dream or goal. All I can see is the busyness of each activity caving in on me.

John Gorka is writing notes and memories to himself and his friend, to help capture and process all of the good times that are happening. The pages are full of life stories. The plots that thicken and thin each day sometimes threaten the margins. These margins are a quiet place where thoughts and worries, visions and dreams can all settle down and support the story. As you settle in and find some extra margin this week, I hope that you find within the quiet, a voice that speaks truth about your story, and I hope that as you reflect and process, you will be able to see God at work. Jot down some notes so that you remember the good.


  1. Thanks, Jay! Great thoughts from someone who is sharing a few pages of our own story.

  2. Thanks for the post Jay. I admire your introspection and ability to write an essay on it.

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