“If you find the right word, it paints a thousand pictures.” – Richard Foster, from his session entitled “The Humiliation of the Word in our Day” at Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing.
I heard dozens of “right words” during the last few days. Some of them came from speakers like Anne Lamott, Richard Foster, Luci Shaw, Bret Lott, Neil Plantinga, Edward Gilbreath, Marlena Graves, Al Hsu and Helen Lee. Even that one session – and there’s always one that hits an off-note at an event of this size – that one session which may well have been presented in a form of Pidgin Esperanto for all the sense the speaker made as she tried to explain her thoughts about writing about the Bible. The presentation did have some value, if only to demonstrate that our words can become alphabet soup if we’re not paying careful attention to them.
Many right words came from face-t0-face conversations with the community of writers with whom I spend bits of my solitary writing days, tucked in virtual hidey-holes in a couple of small corners of the internet. One friend hung out with me in the parking lot while I recharged my nearly-dead cell phone. Another arrived early so we could meet for the first time in person and share a three-hour dinner – pizza and the stories of our hearts. A late-night conversation, an informal gathering, a hug in the hallway, a question, a belly laugh, a cup of coffee, a book in hand. A prayer.
I will be examining and cherishing the treasures – a whole gallery of word-pictures – in the weeks to come. Here, however, are a few informal shots of my hangout time with the truest treasures of my time in Grand Rapids – just a few of the wonderful people with whom I get to share my writer’s journey.