“Joanna, you have a story for everything!”
Those of you who know me or have been around my blog-block before have already heard/read that quote: what a former co-worker told me years ago, way before I had any clue I’d be a writer. She was right. No matter the topic, I had some related account of a cousin, television show or life experience of my own. (I was new to the work-force then. Imagine how many more stories I have now! )
These days my kids and their friends roll their eyes and look at each other when they make some random comment then realize they just triggered my retelling of: “Another story.”
Oh, God. She’s about to do it again…Hang in there: I’m going somewhere with this. (Pinky swear…)
And yes, I changed the names in the interest of privacy!
Years ago I attended a women’s retreat. The drive should have taken about three hours from start to finish. I drove, accompanied by two women. Sally was at least twenty years older than I; Melanie might have been ten years younger (and a bit of a nervous type).
With written directions and my cell phone in hand (okay it was a dino-phone), we took off on the interstate, excited to be away from everyone for a couple of days. We took exit #13—just like the paper said—and wound up spending the next three hours seriously lost. (All we knew was we were in God’s country—somewhere—with not much more to go on but trees and two-lane roads. We later learned the directions didn’t specify we were supposed to take exit #13 AFTER we crossed over into the next state—kind of an important detail…).
Cell-phone reception wasn’t what it is today, so my dino-phone was pretty useless. We happened on at least one hotel and asked for directions. Those turned out as helpful as the phone. Sally and I found much humor in the situation; figured we’d get there eventually. Melanie later told us she was flipping out in the back seat while Sally and I just laughed. (We had no idea how upset with us she was until the next day, when she finally told us.)
We had plenty of gas and a sturdy vehicle; no need to panic. We weren’t however, any closer to where we needed to be, nor did we have a clue how to get there. We stopped for directions again. And again. And probably a time after that. Every time we realized we were lost—again!—Sally and I laughed. Melanie got more anxious.
We finally made it to some town and stopped a man who happened to be walking by. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but when he opened his sentence exactly the same way as had so many of those we asked for directions before him, Sally and I looked at each other and fell apart laughing. We couldn’t stop.
Once Sally and I could talk, we apologized and explained why we cracked up the way we did; in no way did we intend any offense. He assured us none was taken. “I have a son with schizophrenia. Nothing you can say can upset me. I’ll get you where you need to go.”
We promised to pray for him and his son.
Don’t you know? That man’s directions got us to our destination, six hours after we started out.
The following Sunday, the women who’d gone on the retreat were called to share some of their experiences relative to the previous weekend. Sally, Melanie and I shared out ‘lost’ story, enjoying very much the collective chuckles of the congregation as we did so.
Then we mentioned the man who finally put us on the correct road to our destination, his son and our promise to pray for them and their family.
As a church we prayed together. Then I thought about how individuals might go home and pray for them too, and how they might ask someone else to pray, and those folks might ask someone else to pray, and so on and so on—until more people than any of us could imagine are praying for this gentleman and his schizophrenic son. For all any of us knows, people could still remember him or the story and be praying for him today. My retelling of this story serves as a reminder to do so for me and may incline others to do so as well.
And somehow, all of brings to mind the incredible, potential power of Twitter.
Just a reminder: A critique of up to 10 pages of your work-in-progress or completed manuscript is still up for grabs at the end of this week. Leave a comment for your chance to win!
More next time, as in Wednesday.
See you then!