Saturday, July 15, 2017

ALL CONFERENCE - There's Always a First Time

It is difficult to imagine that it has been publishing for over four years and finally just made it to my first conference as an author.  It wasn't big, but it was completely delightful and utterly inspiring.

The Pacific Northwest Association of Church Librarians hosts a conference annually, in rotation, at each of its chapters throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. I was honored to be invited, and as an author participated both with a table in the vendor area, and in the "Author Shuffle" component of the Saturday morning proceedings (how much CAN you say about your work, effectively in four minutes?).

So, I sold book, spake about my work, and BONUS - I met some fantastic people including other authors.  Sixteen authors there and no overlap of genre, seriously.  It was a diverse crowd.  I am excited to continue some of these nascent friendships: the photography and poetry of Jackie Gannan (the first new person to befriend me from her adjacent table), the powerful and effervescent Jamicka Edwards.

In the Author Shuffle I was honored to be in a group with the inspiring Sister Laura Swan, the amazing Lisa McMinn (who brought THE MOST delicious Blackberries from her home farm!), the adorable and charming Eleanor Corey, and Kate Breslin who has the most exhilarating smile!

So what could I do to represent myself in this august company, as a writer? I decided to play to my strengths and tell a story. I got up especially early on Saturday and penned 400 new words, as there was a time limit, which are the blueprint for a slightly longer work.  Several people commented enthusiastically on my storytelling style, and asked where the story I presented had been published so they could get a copy.  I am taking that as an imperative.

In the Beginning
by Judith Cullen
© 2017

Way back, when the world was brand new, when the God had formed the heavens and the earth, brought forth all the plants and animals, created the depths of the ocean and the great extremities of the mountain peaks, God sat back, looking at his final work - Humanity - and considered it. 

Some members of the heavenly host noticed the Creator's hesitation and came closer, asking about the work in progress. 

"This is the last element of my great composition, and I will give it stewardship and responsibility over all the rest."

"We see, Lord, that you have made this a being in your own image."

"Yes, but it is new, and untested, and it will never truly understand the nature of grace - my nature - until it has matured.  Yet, I cannot help but feel that it needs something more, something is missing from it.  Eternity is shorter than it seems, and I need to finish this."

"What will you do?"

"I am going to trust in the path I have set this creature, and I am going to endow it with a spark of my own consciousness, so that it may fulfill its role as steward responsibly: with tolerance, kindness, and a generous heart."

"Why don't you just do that and be done with it, then, oh Lord."

"Humanity needs to learn and grow, to strive, fail, and get back up to try once more. The Divine Balance of my Universe is dependent on Humanity achieving a wisdom that can only be gained in this way. They are not Gods, after all, but mortal souls.

"I will take a spark of myself and leave it for humanity as something they must attain. Giving it to them would be too easy. If I just grant it to them, they will never value it. 

"Perhaps the in the great ocean depths," One suggested.

"I have made humanity inquisitive, and they will seek and explore even to the bottom of the sea."

"On the top of the highest mountain, then?"

"I have infused human kind with the desire to achieve, and they will conquer the great heights again and again.  These would all be too simple.  The spark of the divine is too important to be so easily found. I must hide it, and hide it well!"

And then, the great Creator beamed, The problem is solved, I know."

"Really? Where will you hide it, oh Lord?"

"I shall hide it where humanity will never think to look.  I shall hide it within their own souls."


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