Eleven years ago, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I printed out an email. It didn’t contain directions, or any other information that I needed to make portable. It wasn’t a recipe that I wanted to add to my binder, or a receipt I needed to file (you know, back in the day that we filed things in cabinets *gasp*). It was a personal message, from one person (my priest) to another (me), clearly in response to struggles I was trudging through at the time. It was encouragement, homily, and love, all wrapped up into one neat little page. That page, mysteriously transmuted into the real world of 20# paper and soy-based ink from the cyber-reality it had been born of, was at some point folded over and pushed into service as a bookmark – no doubt meant to be temporary – and placed in the middle of a book on the Feasts of the Church. The book, left unfinished, was shelved and admired from afar for many moons, until such time that it would call to me, promising wisdom and enlightenment from between its covers.
Sheepishly I admit that I only answered the invitation of that book a few times over the years, but every time I was greeted not only by the wisdom bound within, but first by the single page of grace loosely held between the folios. And here is where I am consistently amazed. That though the words contained in that email were crafted specifically for the season of struggle that I was walking through back in that land of file-cabinets, they speak to me with fresh timbre each and every time I stumble upon them. They, of course, take me back to the place and time, and there is a certain amount of nostalgia that reminds me how profound they were at the time. But well outside the stomping grounds of memory, there is the undeniable fact that the words also speak to my circumstances now. Like scripture, they carry weight beyond the mere words, meaning deeper than the sentences strung together.
So I am challenged, as a reader, to continually be awake to those words that can find resonance within me over and over again. To seek them out and stash them away for the rainy days that will call them back into action. To read deeper and find what is masked and buried, waiting to be discovered. To not take the words for granted, but to milk them for all they are worth.
And I am challenged, as a writer, to find a voice, and a message, that can not only touch and move with my specific goals in mind, but will be universal, transcending the moment and the details thereof, containing layers enough to find purchase in the soil of many situations, at many times, in many lives. Like this fleeting blurb passed from my spiritual father to myself, meant to exist only virtually, and only for a day, I hope that my stories can be filled with the grace that moves them beyond themselves. That each reader and each reading will uncover a new voice waiting to be heard.