"I fell in love with stories before I
fell in love with anything else..."
... And it was stories that led me to fall in love with words. Words in books, words on road signs, words spoken in the smooth southern accent of my people.
There is an ancient Jewish tradition that "words make worlds" and that truth has sent me traveling to Narnia, Middle Earth, and Arakis, to a desert where the pilot of a disabled airplane meets a little prince, to the moors of Yorkshire, the drawing rooms of Bath, and a courtroom in Maycomb, Alabama. What I learned is that my words, too, could create worlds, and, thus, a writer was born.
For over 25 years I have written about the ordinary and the commonplace, framed through the lens of nature as I've observed it from, among other inspiring places, Sandhill -- a small house with a big heart located on the land my family has farmed for over 50 years. I have created that world in newspaper columns, magazine articles, speeches, and two books of what some have called parables and what I simply call glimpses of grace.
Just glimpses because life moves fast and expectations are high and anything more than a glimpse would require a lot more stillness than I thought I could afford.
Four years ago, after 38 years of practicing law, I walked away -- took the diploma off the wall, gave away my suits, and gave myself over to the magnetic pull of curiosity and the deep desire to, in the words of writer and naturalist Diane Ackerman, not get to the end of my life and find I'd only lived the length of it and not the breadth. I was convinced that I deserved to see more than glimpses, to hear more than snatches, to feel more than what fit comfortably in the spaces on my calendar.
And I am convinced that you do, too.
Ram Dass said "we are all just walking each other home." While we are doing that, I want to encourage you to yield to your own curiosity, to indulge in your own creativity, and to let your words make worlds. Most importantly, though, I want us all to acknowledge that, even in pain and loss and darkness, there is still beauty. Beauty that empowers and heals and reveals.