By Alex Anderson, Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church –
A few days ago, I took several days to rest and pray alone at a friend’s beach house on Anna Maria Island. It was beautiful and serene. It was just what I needed. On one of the days there, I went over to Hurricane Henri’s to have lunch. I asked some locals for restaurant recommendations to get a really good Angus beef hamburger and Hurricane Henri’s was one of two.
I hopped in the golf cart and away I went. Not many folks were there on a Wednesday so I had my choice of seats. I chose a spot close to a corner thinking it would be just my Angus burger and me all alone for a while.
As I was giving my order, a couple of ladies entered the restaurant and began to survey the room much like someone boarding a plane looking for their assigned seat. Like someone already seated and hoping no one would sit next them, I began to stretch and extend my arms hoping to give the impression that “my corner” of the restaurant was too small for them. Hey, you know you’ve done something like that yourself!
No such luck!
Enjoying Lessons About Life and Writing
The two ladies made a beeline for the table just to my right and proceeded to establish their kingdom. They began to lay out papers and folders and purses. It was quite an enterprise for a lunch meeting to be sure. Now don’t get me wrong, I love people or I would not have been a minister for over three decades. And I was, after all, having lunch in a public place with tables snugly positioned to optimize the real estate, but I was not expecting the event that was about to unfold.
Shortly, my Coke arrived and while I began to enjoy it three more ladies arrived which took the volume in the small room to a whole other level. My Angus hamburger arrived as the final member of the convention took her seat. With an unhappy look on my face, I slowly began to dress my food with the various condiments available. As I took my first bite from this mountain of a hamburger, I heard a few words from their table that gave me pause. I soon realized that the group meeting just 18 inches off my right elbow was a writer’s group. Being a young aspiring writer myself, I suddenly became very interested in their conversation and the purpose of their meeting.
Now I use the term aspiring young writer (me), because in context, I was just a kid, a mere teenager, compared to my esteemed neighbors. I found out through my license to listen (since I was only 18 inches away) that no one at the table was less than 70 years old and, in fact, the leader and founder of the group had recently turned 90. I began to slow down the eating of my meal so I could enjoy some lessons about life and writing.
One Felt Writing Had Saved Her Life
Forty minutes later as I was finishing the cup of coffee I had ordered to extend my lunch time, I learned that Sue Ellen, the senior writer and founder of the group 18 years ago, had been responsible for everyone at the table, except one guest, to become published authors. One lady, Martha, who sat closest to the bar, felt that Sue Ellen and writing had actually saved her life. Sue Ellen had introduced writing as a form of therapy for Martha after her loss of a dear family member. It was the same kind of story with each lady and, no matter their age, they were all very vibrant and full of life and had what seemed to me to be the energy of ladies in their 30’s.
Shared Stories and Laughter were Inspiring and Life-Giving
That evening at the beach house, I began to think about how inspiring and life-giving these ladies were as they shared their stories and laughter. I remembered this verse from the book of Proverbs in the Bible. It says,
“Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 GWT)
Through writing, Sue Ellen had taught others to “Guard their hearts.” I’m not a genetic scientist nor a psychologist, however, I believe to some degree these ladies were able be more life-giving as they used the creative outlet of writing to process the events that happened to them, good or bad. And maybe they even added a few years to their lives as well.
Be “creative” and be life-giving!
About the Author
Alex Anderson is a Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church, Bradenton, Florida. To read other life giving stories by Pastor Alex, go to http://belifegiving.blogspot.com/
The names in this article have been changed to protect identities.