Home. The word takes on such special significance when we have been away for so long. To be honest, it makes me think of refugees on foreign borders and those who will perhaps never have a home to return to. It makes me think of my Grandmother and old homes, and families, roots, returns, reunions and blessings. How full my hands are. How full my heart.
Last you heard I was flying over Utah. That plane connected me to another one where I traveled on to Great Falls, Montana where I walked out of the plane and into the snow. In April. Sans coat that I had decided to leave behind in Nashville. Off to the restroom where I began pulling out every layer I had to put on and heard my name being pages as the Director of the Great Falls Rescue Mission, Jim Kizer tried to figure out how to rescue his speaker from an airport disappearence. What I can tell you is that I went to Great Falls. That I had dinner with Jim’s wonderful family, toured the Rescue mission, spoke at the Annual Luncheon Banquet, spoke again at the Annual Dinner Banquet and flew out the next morning to Nashville. What I can’t fully explain is the mark these people leave on my heart when I travel. Leaving Great Falls I was not the same person as the one who flew in or wrote the last words you read. The graces, the faces, and the sweet people that I met left their impact. The small beds in the center, the homemade quilts that had been given to each woman who arrived there forlorn and without, the tiny pictures on the walls. The stuffed animals the grown men had on their cots. The good cheer of those who had found a new life. And in the midst of it all, a city with a heart for the broken, the lost, those who would be found. Sometimes, from our tiny places we don’t see all the good that is brewing in this world. Sometimes from the places behind our blue screens and radios filled with bad and broken, we don’t see the love. I assure you – it abounds.
Only one night home but it was an eventful one as husband and I sat staring at our seven new chicks. Little, tiny, yellow peepers. I would say we’ve become urban chicken owners but we aren’t so urban up on this hill and in these woods. One night to sit home and sleep home and hold my husbands hand and then off again.
The Festival of Faith and Writing takes place every other year in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Calvin College. While I have attended the festival in the past as an author with Harper One/Harper Collins I had never officially presented on panels and solo presentations. I can’t recommend this festival enough for those who are readers, writers, and spiritual seekers of words that delve into the world of faith, believing, hoping, reaching. The highly acclaimed authors Marilynne Robinson (Gilead) and Walter Wangerin (The Book of the Dun Cow) were two of the presenters and I was so amazed to be in their grand company. I also had the great pleasure of seeing author friends like J. Brent Bill and meeting new, increadible authors. I am greatly appreciative of the readers who attended presentations and thank you for your notes, comments and your blessed presence.
The closing of the event was Vespers led by the young people of the college and how delightful of a way to close with a moment of thankfulness, a pause, a reading, and a prayer.
It’s good to be home again. To sit on the porch, to watch the chickens, to water a few plants and begin to tidy up the many details that have gone to trouble in my travels. Unraveling knots it is. But in the midst of all these travels, in the middle of the paperback signing for Praying for Strangers at Bookman/Bookwoman in Nashville, speaking to the Nashville Business Women’s Breakfast, a quick travel to see author friend Raymond Atkins and his beautiful wife Marsha and speak with the Georgia Writers Association – in the middle of all -
Grandbaby boy, Damon Lee Ryker Riddick was born into this world. And that is the grandest news of all! (photo to follow)