This weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Writers and Artists Conference at CLP. It was a wonderful,educational experience. I got to meet some of my writer “heroes” and sit under their instruction.
It was unreal how much information we needed to cram into our minds- (or notebooks) in just a day and a half. I took some of the fiction workshops for interest’s sake-and wow! Interesting seems like an understatement…
All this talk about creating characters, developing your plot, etc, piqued my interest and showed me a whole new world of writing that I had not considered since grade school. While the world of fiction is fascinating to me, I’m probably not going to pursue it myself, at least not anytime soon.
My favorite workshop was taught by (in my opinion) one of the best current Anabaptist poets there is. She has impressed me for some time with her ability to make the written word read like music; and in real life she was as impressive as I imagined.
I want to share with you, a poem she wrote that is one of my favorites, mainly because of the feeling in it; the beautiful way it’s written.
“To My Children
Tonight I find that I cannot ignore
The ways I failed to love; it is the door
Unopened; unread maps to buried gold
That bring these sobs unlooked-for, uncontrolled.
The absent glance I gave your offered gift;
The gift I had but never gave; the rift
Left raw and unrepaired; those vanished years
Seem filled by losses swollen with my tears
And eaten by the locust-mouth of time.
The ways I failed to love: their mass combined
Conspire to dim a thousand rays of light,
And could suffice to break my heart tonight.
Upon this road no traveler turns back.
My loves, remember love; forget its lack. -Janice Etter
Is that not beautiful? She is not only gifted in creating poetry; she has the most beautiful way of reading it aloud…to hear her read your favorite classic, is to never see that poem the same way again.
If you were to ask me what part of writer’s conference made the biggest impression on me, it would have to be a sermon we heard between workshops. I can’t tell you everything the preacher said, but I’ll share what stood out the most to me.
The title of his message was “The Purpose of Writing,” and he talked about different reasons one could write, then pointed out that the ultimate purpose in writing is to win souls for the Lord.
He read from Matthew 25, where Jesus said: “If you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto Me.” He paraphrased the verses and I’m sure I can’t replicate all he said; (I couldn’t write fast enough) but it went something like this…
“I was hungry, and you gave me the Bread of Life, in bite-sized pieces that I could take in.
I was thirsty, and you showed me the Streams of Living Water, where I could drink and never thirst again.
I was naked, cold ; but I read your poem, and Love warmed my heart.
I was destitute; but through your words I learned that I am royalty: a child of the King.
I was a stranger; but in your story I belonged, as I read it I felt at home.
I was in darkness; but you wrote about Jesus and showed me the Light of the World.”
This is not word-for-word, and he said lots more than this; but the continuing theme of his message was how the written word can be used to reach people in a deep, personal way.
It made me stop and think: If positive words can have such an impact on lives- would not negative words affect one just as much the other way? Either way, this weekend was a wonderful learning experience and deepened my commitment to glorify my Lord in my writing… to use my pen for the “write” purpose. 😉
Here is another poem by Mrs. Etter that I LOVE… and it’s a bit more relevant to my stage in life. (Anna Grace is taking a few careful steps these days!)
“An Important Step
Three unsteady steps;
A look of wide surprise
Becoming fear- a lurch-
A sudden seat.
Coaxed, she makes another try-
A cause for some applause,
A life-transforming feat.
She’s on her feet!”
Til next time, God bless!