Jesus Prized the Seed rather than the Bouquet

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Jesus knew that big moments are born from little ones.  A loaf of bread freely given by a little boy could turn into food for thousands.  A thought nurtured in the heart can spill out and bring healing for others.  Jesus taught and showed us that every word is a seed.  And words matter. Even simple ones.  

I ponder this as I look at the advance author copies of Jesus, CEO I received in the mail yesterday.  The book is now 25 years old, and yet...I wonder...when was this book truly born? Maybe it was when as a ten year old I announced to my parents “Someday I am going to be a writer and have a horse ranch.”   Maybe it was when ten years later my father told me in anger “You will never make a living as a writer.”

Or maybe the book came from the sheer crushing weight I felt every time I went into a bookstore, only to turn around and leave quickly because somehow I sensed my books needed to be in there, and they weren’t.  Because I was making a living writing advertising copy for other people.  And had been doing so for fifteen years.

I think about the random tentative hooks I sent out over the years.  To Reader’s Digest hoping they would carry one of my jokes. To the El Paso Times who carried a feature of my work when I was 16 years old.  To the many rejection letters I learned to save as badges of honor.  To the C grade I received in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. The male professor disagreed with my interpretation of a woman’s poem, and that one essay was the entire class grade.  This inane inequity caused me to drop out of college altogether.  I told my father “If I stay here they will crush my spirit.”  And then Dad cut me off financially.

I think about writing poems and essays between my subsequent jobs as a legal assistant, a secretary, even as a restaurant hostess having to wear a pirates uniform.  Always somehow finding a piece of paper to write on, even if it was a cocktail napkin.  I think of my friend Linda Sterrett Marple moving down from Alaska to be my roommate after my divorce.  She enrolled in SMU and and took a job as a waitress so at least we would always have food on the table.  She said “I believe in you.  Keep writing.”

I think about eighteen years and many moves later finally handing the completed manuscript to my friend and mentor, Catherine Calhoun, sighing “Well, I don’t know why I had to write this but—here it is.” She cradled the three hundred pages in her hands and tears welled up in her eyes, actually spilling over onto the paper.  She was speechless for a moment, and then whispered “Give everything for beauty, and never count the cost, for whatever is born seeking beauty, never will be lost.”

I remember two years later getting the phone call from my agent while I was in the middle of Chicago O’Hare airport, telling me that there had been a bidding war.  I remember calling my mother and shouting  “I did it, Mom!  I sold my book!’  And her squealing in delight and then finally around two in the morning, offering to sing me a lullaby so I could finally go to sleep.

So this newly recognized author with a business book about Jesus fell asleep listening to the same lullaby she had heard over and over and over again as a child, being sung by the woman who gave her birth and taught her that she could do anything.

So when is a book truly born?  I believe we each have a book in us, somewhere.  And some of us will be like the farmer Jesus talked about who goes out to sow.  Some of the seed will fall on hard ground and some of it will be stolen by the crows and some of it, maybe even just one of it, will find soil that says “I receive you now. And the sun and the rain and the wind—we will all help you grow and blossom and bloom.”

Consider the lilies of the field, Jesus said.  I think about this as I pry open the cardboard box full of seeds now known as  Jesus, CEO.  

The original book had fourteen pages of acknowledgements, thanking the many people who had helped bring the book into being.  Twenty five years later, how could I ever begin to thank  the many, many more men and women who took this book and made it their own?  The publisher looked at all my thank you’s and finally suggested that we just skip the acknowledgements altogether. There were almost more thank yous than words in the book itself.  And isn’t this how life is, after all.  One big thank you?

So when is a book truly born?  It is not, unless it is born in you.

Thank you, each and every one of you, for making this dream real, twenty five years later, and counting.  You have been the soil, sun, wind and rain that keeps it blooming, still.

And I owe it all to Jesus, who Prized the Seed more than the Bouquet.


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