Four weeks ago, I was with some of my best writer and editor friends and acquaintances at the Festival of Faith & Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My main responsibility was promoting the journal I edit: Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature. For three days, I worked a bookfair table, giving my spiel about the kind of work we publish.
On the second day of the conference, a post was published here about my sweltering writerly jealousy. The piece was cathartic, and if I hadn’t finished it before I left for Michigan, I doubt my experience at the conference would have been so refreshing and soul-filling. I needed those three days more than I realized.
Perhaps, however, it’s better to view that post as more confessional than cathartic. Just as with my other recent writings, I am acknowledging more truths about myself and then admitting them to others and the wider world. In that post, I discuss the ways that jealousy eats at me. I’m optimistic that my thoughts might speak truth into someone else’s life.
For those three days, I didn’t feel the sting of jealousy jabbing me; instead, I was able to enjoy the experience.
There were the many meaningful conversations I had with so many people.
There were dinners with friends two of those nights, dinners with much laughter, where I met new people, talked about writing.
There was the quiet in the bookfair room each morning before it officially opened.
There was plentiful sunshine, the weather a welcome arrival for people traveling far north in mid-April.
There was the spontaneous lunch one day, a deep discussion with three others, one of whom I’d just met.
I caught up with people I hadn’t seen for months, some even in years. I visited with two former colleagues.
I read a friend’s chapbook one night, not envious of his publication, but enamored by his poetry and the setting of his poems. Just as it should be. When I finished it that night by myself in the hotel, I emailed him to tell him how much I enjoyed the chapbook.
I was in a place where words mattered and faith mattered.
I was in a place with so little posturing and pomposity compared to another major writing conference I regularly attend.
I was exhausted at the end of each day, and it was difficult to turn off my brain. I didn’t sleep well, but that was okay.
It took a few days to adjust to my routine. But I am grateful for the time with others that was soul-filling, that encouraged me in my journey towards being more like Christ, that encouraged me in my journey towards being more honest, especially in whatever I write.