I’m writing today’s blog while traveling back to Florida from North Carolina, where I attended the North Carolina Christian Writers Conference. While there I met a lot of wonderful people. And as often happens, I met people from Mississippi. Sitting next to me on the pew was Renee Hodges, a fellow MSU Bulldog. We chuckled how we were so proud we didn’t get rid of our cowbells ’cause…finally…we were winning. While waiting in line for home-cooked meals prepared by the ladies at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, I chitchatted with Angeline “Angie” Godwin whose husband was from Seminary, MS.
As we enjoyed chicken and potatoes, Angie and I shared stories, as writers do. I wiped the homemade ranch dressing from my lips then asked her, “Who’re your people?” Southerners, especially Mississippians, always get around to checking out each other’s ancestors. It always brings a chuckle when we discover we’re somehow distantly related.
During a break in the conference, I strolled around the cemetery on the church property. This grave marker caught my eye because it couldn’t be read. The weather has eroded the etching and who knows whose grave this is. I wondered what their story was and who they’re people were. Maybe I was kin to them.
The conference theme was “Journey.” Our writing careers or hobbies are a journey. We win awards one minute and the next we’re told our writing isn’t good enough. We struggle to stay focused and motivated. We stay up late to finish that novel then put it on a shelf for a decade because we can’t bear to edit it for the umpteenth time. We wonder what it’s all for. We ponder the question, “Is all this worth it?”
I felt honored and truly humbled to be among those God has called to be brave and courageous enough to write about their journeys. The losses of children, spouses, or mothers. The sadness of being estranged from family or losing the ability to walk. The joy of new birth paired with the burial of the father who died in a far-off land under the red, white, and blue.
One day my grave marker could be like the one above. Yours, as well. Will your story be gone? All your heartbreaks, losses, and hopelessness–what will have become of it all?
Christians know from Scripture all will return to dust. The only things worth time and investment are the things eternal–your children, your marriage, your family, your ministry, your relationship with the Creator. In other words, your relationships.
And…as I bask in the afterglow of a sweet few days, tucked in a green valley of North Carolina where the John Deeres raced to cut and bale hay before the pending hurricane, I knew I had been with my people–God’s writers, His storytellers–my brothers and sisters in Christ.
P.S. If you’re not a Southerner, I’d love to hear your stories of how you reacted the first time you were asked, “Who’re your people?” or “Where’re you from?”