We called it a salt lick, the stand in the woods behind our house. I never saw salt, and I never saw deer licking it. But it made a great platform to climb up on and belt out words to a standing-room-only crowd. This audience swayed to the melodies, whispered their appreciation, and clapped their praise.
I put pencil to paper, too. Songs. Silly poems. Long letters to my great-aunt, the nun. Journals.
I took a writing course and had a few pieces paid for and published. I wrote worship programs, devotionals, a church newsletter, and Bible study lessons. I taught classes and spoke at retreats.
I played to audiences of one, two, or a few. Sometimes fifty. Maybe a hundred.
I dreamed of writing a best-seller and of speaking to thousands.
But I hadn’t seen.
And I hadn’t plumbed the pain.
I’ve heard it said that most successful writers put in about fifteen years of small-audience writing before they begin to work with larger audiences. ~p.108
I figure I’ve put in about fifty.
How many doors must I knock on before THE door opens?
This publishing-for-pay thing?
Somehow it validates the work to a husband who sacrifices for its pursuit.
It validates the gift. If, indeed, it is a gift. I often doubt this.
It validates–my worth?
L.L. tells how her daughter, Sonia, wants desperately to see.
To climb the 101 spiral steps of a lighthouse in spite of knees that throb from a tick’s attack.
We lag behind the rest of the group, hear them laughing and talking above. At the halfway point, it is finally too much and Sonia can’t go on. I give her a hug, look into her eyes and say, “I’ll go up with Sara,” because I am in a dilemma; Sara wants to go to the top, but she is nervous to go alone, and Sonia cannot move another inch. She sits down on a cold metal stair, leans against white walls. “I’ll wait,” she says, eyes steady, filled with longing.” ~p. 104
I’m tired, too.
I sit with Sonia on that step and watch others make the climb, catch my breath as the the upper hatch slams, strain to hear their voices of vision.
My throat tightens with the ache of the wait. The longing to see.
And to somehow put that vision into words.
For an audience of–thousands?
Or to touch one heart.
To change one life.
Even if it’s only my own.
To be lost in the light and the sight.
Our worth is not in our words or the size of our audience.
Our worth is in the One who gives us words.
My dream is to honor the words He gives me.
By walking through THE door.
Whether that means publication or not.
Until then I know I’m exactly where I need to be.
Another group waits to make the climb.
She [the guide] turns to open the hatch, to let us go back down, and I hear someone whimper.
I look down and it is Sonia.
“Can I please… come up?”
She is crying, and I catch my breath. I look to the guide and mouth, “Please?” I know the schedule is the schedule, but here is my girl with tears streaming down her face, and she has come up dizzying stairs all by herself, pulled herself past pain because she wants to see.” ~p. 104
I look up.
I pull myself past pain and begin to climb again.