Monday, September 26, 2005

JK: No Mountain To Climb

When my sister was very ill she told me one day that when you’re going through a hard time, it’s difficult to concentrate long enough to read an entire book. So I’d call her and give her little things to think about, metaphors of rocks, rivers and earth or everyday things she could consider to giver her encouragement. For instance I told her that the word family came from the Latin word famalus meaning servant hoping to ease that guilt sick people often carry as they watch others meet their needs. Or I reminded her that what brings on the bloom of a flower is not the quality of the soil or the amount of rain or fertilizer or even that a stake gets placed beside the plant before its really needed, to help it weather winds. What brings on the bloom is the lengthening of the days, the increase exposure to the sun. Despite her illness, she was still working toward that bloom and there were still things she could do which brought meaning to her life and the lives of her children.

She said those thoughts helped her and after she died (she passed away at the age of 55 so I am now “the older sister.”), I put them together into a small book initially published as A Burden Shared. After 10,000 copies, it went out of print and then Harvest House picked it up and reissued it with lovely photographs and re-titled it as A Simple Gift of Comfort. I often read from that book at the close of presentations whether to the Western States Juvenile Justice Directors or the European Council of International Schools or a small book group. I’m always amazed at how the words seem to touch people, how they comment on those thoughts long afterwards. I suspect that if we knew everything about our audiences, we’d discover that each person is in a hard place, struggling perhaps not with life or death issues, but struggling to be good parents, good employees, good caregivers, good servants, and welcoming words of comfort.
The piece that receives the most comment I offer here today to each of you as Christian writers. “You don’t have to climb the mountain today, only find the footholds that will greet you in the morning. You don’t have to graduate today, only take that first class. You don’t have to write a novel, just pen a paragraph. Somehow we seem to think we must have faith enough to finish before we first begin.

We gain by just beginning, take on new strength with each small step, even if we have to later change our course. Clarity and direction rise from the swirl of indecision; courage and potency appear through the malaise of unworthiness and woe. Your faith need not be strong enough to finish, only adequate to embark. We can take the next first step together.

Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of A Land of Sheltered Promise and Homestead, (October, 2005).


At 11:37 AM, Blogger Domino said...

I must thank you. I was asking myself, "Will I ever graduate?" You answered my whine with encouragement. Thank you. I will just keep pressing on.


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