I stood in the white light of forest and sheer curtains on the windows. I stood between two men who are writers and dreamers and good men of God, who tell stories in the light with a champagne, blackberry cocktail in their hands. I feel myself excited, like one might feel as a child on Christmas morning. These two men for whom words have shaped their destiny and me, a wordy girl, are standing in the light and God is proclaiming “It is good.” One of the men has been a dear friend and shelter in a wild, wild storm of life, for whom I call Schroeder, as he was a lone figure hunched over a keyboard writing every time I made my way to the back bedroom that sheltered me and the other is a touchstone of writing genius, that I have come to call my teacher. He is younger than I, and much taller and he is married with kiddo’s and a ponytail, but whenever I see him, I think Daniel Boon or something mountainous, because he is rugged and all wild west in his words. It can be an illusion, this pen and our thoughts. We spin beauty when we suffer, we weave mountains from the suburbs. It is the imagination that creates the movement of words that move hearts and dreamers that dream and take us on journeys of wonder and grace. I am flush with the joy of knowing these two men.
On my ancient closet of Indian jade wood, are books from some of the great writers of our generation. They are lined up in color of jacket and categories of heart intention and I am blessed to call some of them friend. I have letters tucked into jackets of their thoughts to me, a pen and a paper with their stamp of intentions for one brief time to communicate with me. Encouraging words, inscriptions of love, a funny joke, a touch from God. One of them defined his heart to me by bestowing to me a gift of such magnitude that I cannot utter the words engraved upon the gift. From one of the Saints of Christian history, to me. He wrote a book about her, and he spent many years with her and he felt led to give me one of her prized possessions, a rosary. I see her kneeling and praying and I too, kneel and pray when I think of this. Gods great love symbolized and hanging by my mirror in the bedroom where I lay many day’s counting on joy to carry me through years of sickness.
There is another book, a short book, written by a tiny woman of great stature, who I had the great, good fortune to spend a weekend with her and many other great women one fine fall day. She is married to one of our generations great singer songwriters, who when I was a child sang God into my cells and changed my faith. I met them both when they came through our little village 30 years later and played the song “He’s Alive” which started so much of my journey. She and I became friends and her book GOD and DOG became a you tube phenomenon and then a Best selling book. It comforts me and I share it often. A painting of her’s was gifted to me and sits on a shelf beside her book.
When I was young I wrote to the editor of Guidepost Magazine and he wrote back to me, pen and paper back to me, this man of great responsibility and encouraged me to become a writer.” Writing is a gift he wrote and you have it.” I was a frail, lonely girl in the wilderness of soul and company and I carried his words with me for years. Today, because of the internet I have made another friend, a writer, a strong, passionate man of God, sharing brokeness and redemption, for whom we also share a mutual passion of dogs. He is a great writer and the current Editor of Guidepost Magazine. I am amazed how full circle that God story goes. His book sits there too and another is coming with the promise of words inscribed to me. Humbling me with the mystery of this friendship from God, from whom all blessings flow.
There are others, from Bruce Cameron, who wrote me a note after I wrote to him and shared that he “Had intended to write me sooner but his dog ate the paper.” and then later “My mom told me NOT to lie, so that’s not the whole truth, the whole truth is I wanted to write to you sooner. That’s the whole truth”. And Phillip Gulley, who wrote about Quakers and laughter and sorrow and tears, who wrote that “He loved my stories about the poor and the Quaker church believes we need to take care of the orphans and widows too” and a writer Justin Mattot, an inspirational writer, teacher who proof read my first book Bent Not Broken, and told me to” enjoy the journey as most people aren’t blessed to experience such a time.” These writers encouraged me and I am thankful for their kindness and their stories.
To be among the great writers of our generation, to lean in and learn from them, sometimes flesh and blood, sometimes words on paper, or a voice on the telephone, to sit among them and know that we labor under words together and that our common thread is God and the words we strain to hear from God before we lay our thoughts to scrutiny. These writers live in my heart, because they are unique voices, ones that tell stories, that shape history, or alter a heart. These writers are shaping our generation of words, thoughts and beliefs and I am humbled and honored to call them friends. So when John Blase happened to mention that he “was thinking about a group of writers to come together every so often” I felt my writer soul leap in excitement at the thought of rubbing elbows, watching the brows knit together in collective longing for that “word” that eludes us but I looked up into his poetic face and said with as much dignity as I could muster “I’m in.” when honestly the little kid in me was jumping up and down and shouting “Thanks GOD! YIPPEEEE”