The Festival of Faith and Writing 2014

“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.

A gift from Martha Manikas-Foster, a lovely friend with whom I’ve been communicating via FB and email for the last couple of years and finally met in person for the first time.

Some of the wonderful Her.meneutics writers gathered at a reception to celebrate the site’s fifth anniversary.

My friend Marlena Graves and I were on our way to lunch, and Marlena invited this woman to join us. It turns out this woman was illustrator Michele Wood. She gave us a tour of an exhibit of her stunning, joyful artwork hanging in nearby display space. What an unexpected treat!

Janni and I have been friends since we both worked at TIU/TEDS, and still hang out together. It was fun to have some time with her at the Festival.

There was a lot of this going on. Lively, meaningful conversation!

So many accomplished women in this group. (And several more just out of camera range!)

Print Friendly

About Michelle Van Loon
  • http://www.kewp.blogspot.com/ Katherine Willis Pershey

    It was SUCH a joy to meet you!

    • Michelle Van Loon

      Oh Katherine – it is just the beginning, I hope, of good conversation and companionship on this journey.

  • http://www.bronlea.wordpress.com/ Bronwyn

    Yes! Yes! Exactly as you said! I am so grateful to have met you: as warm in person as online! I am sort of regretting that I didn’t take that one opportunity to invade your corner table and talk more. Thank you, Michelle, for being so very welcoming. And also, thanks for hone introduction to Janni, whom I promptly decided I liked in a keep-her-as-friend-always kind of way :-)

    • Michelle Van Loon

      Ah Bronwyn – it was lovely meeting you, too! I wish we could have talked more, but am grateful for the IRL contact. And yes, Janni is a wonderful gem! I’m glad you thought so, too. :)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X