I was running an errand in the sprawling metropolis of Hornbeak, Tennessee (population: 412). When she saw my name, the bank clerk helping me looked up and said, “Oh! You’re the lady who wrote that article about C.S. Lewis in the paper last week!” As I completed my transaction, the clerk added, “Surprised by Joy [Lewis’s autobiography] is at the top of my reading list. I’m going to call the library this afternoon and request a copy.”
Small towns have many charming qualities, like tiny little banks where there are no lines, no waiting, and no rush. Like bank clerks who, when they recognize you as “that lady who wrote the article,” take time to say something.
The fact that the clerk read my article, remembered my name, and then commented about the article to me was a rush. Even more exciting was the fact that she was interested enough in what I had written that she wanted to read C.S. Lewis!
Painters paint. Dancers dance. Musicians sing and play instruments. Writers write. We are all striving to communicate, to connect in some way with other people. Often, this effort to communicate feels rather like sending a one-way signal into space.
Yes, I write for myself – writing helps me process thoughts, events, and feelings, and writing is fun. But when I write an article for the newspaper, a blog post, a book, or even a personal letter, I hope my words will in some way encourage or help or inspire another. Unless someone replies, I have no way of knowing if my writing accomplishes any of these things.
When I mentioned the above encounter to my editor at the newspaper, she replied, “I’m not sure the average reader knows how much it means for them to comment and show an interest in something that means so much to you.” How much does it mean? It’s like ET, finally getting a message from home. It means I’ve connected in some small way with another human being. It means I will keep on writing.
I encourage you to take time today to encourage someone else. Write a note to your church pianist, telling her how much you appreciate the beauty she contributes to each worship service. Take a bouquet of flowers or a plate of cookies to your local librarian. Write a response to a newspaper article or blog post. Tell the fast-food worker who hands you your lunch, “Thank you!” Wave at the postman.
Encourage. Connect. Impact the world for good!