Guest / Limited Access /
A Wordless Presence
Courtesy of Leslie Leyland Fields

The wrestling season is finally over (cheer)! Its duration—and my 16 years spent in the bleachers for this particular sport—always test my heart and stamina. Wrestling tournaments bring a special kind of torment to both spectators and participants. Two people wearing nothing but a singlet and flat sneakers circle each other like panthers, trying to vanquish the other by pinning him or her, helpless, to the mat. Spit, blood, and sweat are often involved.

It's primal and intense, a display of strength and athleticism nothing short of astonishing. And if you are a parent of one or two of those ripped, twisted bodies being taken to the mat, it's sheer fear. Necks aren't supposed to bend that way. Backs should not fold, and bloody noses deserve more than a coach ramming a twisted piece of Kotex up the nostril. O child of mine! I can hardly watch.

At the last tournament, tired and desperate, I took up my camera. Thus armed, I stood at the edge of the mat, 20 feet from the action, with the lens to my face, but all was changed. Now it was about snapping a decent photo, not worrying about the other guy snapping my son's back. It was about recording a drama, capturing a moment of art in the spar.

From that vantage, Russian author Anton Chekhov's famous prescription for writers came to mind:

"A writer is not a confectioner, not a dealer in cosmetics, not an entertainer; he is a man bound under compulsion, by the realization of his duty and by his conscience. To a chemist, nothing on earth is unclean. A writer must be as objective as a chemist."

I thought, too, of the essential role of the artist writer as a witness, a dispassionate recorder of the often unpleasant.

I needed no ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Stones to Bread
Leslie Leyland Fields
Leslie Leyland Fields is a writer, speaker and professional editor who lives on Kodiak Island, Alaska in the winter and Harvester Island in the summer, where she works in commercial salmon fishing with her family. She cohosts "Off the Shelf" on KMXT Public Radio and is the author of Parenting Is Your Highest Calling, Surprise Child, and other books.
Previous Stones to Bread Columns:
Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueThe Gospel at Ground Zero
Subscriber Access Only The Gospel at Ground Zero
The horrors of 9/11 were not unlike those of Good Friday.
RecommendedPersecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Persecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Beginning as a despised, illicit religious sect, Christianity endured 300 years of hostility to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickA Journey as Old as Humanity Itself
A Journey as Old as Humanity Itself
What’s behind our timeless fascination with religious pilgrimage?
Christianity Today
A Wordless Presence
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.