Thursday, January 28, 2010

Preserving Your Library - Smith Meyer

"When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground," is an African proverb many of us have heard. As authors, we cringe to think of such waste.

That adage came to my mind in stark reality this past month. Within two weeks, I attended the funeral of my 68 year-old brother and a 90 year-old aunt. I wondered how many stories died with them.

My brother’s funeral came first. He was a busy man, always looking out for others, often to the detriment of his own work. We became more aware of how many and how much as we stood in line for the visitation and when well over 600 paid their final respects at his funeral service. Many spoke of him as their spiritual father. Community and business people told of his kindness and concern for their welfare. Many stood when asked to do so, if they had spent time in his class room, and some spoke of the great influence he had on their lives. I feel sure there were many more stories that could have been told.

Aunt Bernice’s funeral was a glorious triumphant home-going for a faithful saint. The funeral was almost completely conducted by her family--sermon and all. Stories were told of her as a trustworthy companion to her husband, a watchmaker, her dependability as a mother--her encouraging ways and her gentle reprimands. Her grandchildren recounted happy times they spent with their grandparents and the lasting influence on their lives. It was a heart-warming day

Both of these occasions were indeed full of story-telling and as usual, I hoped those who this was all about were told at least some of those stories while they were still with us. However, I believe those tales were just the proverbial tip of the iceberg and only what others knew about them. How many insights, how many personal experiences could have benefited those left behind, had they been put on paper? I cringed at the waste!

Soon the Haiti earthquake struck—more libraries burned down in the space of minutes! And yet out of the rubble miraculous stories arise. Accounts of bravery, or self-giving, an outpouring of money, materials and energy in this impoverished country—some survived and others didn’t, but their story will go on and perhaps inspire others to give their time and money in similar ways.

These happenings renew my desire to write, write, write. Not that I have that much wisdom, but I have been taught valuable lessons in my years of living—many coming from learning through mistakes. I know that, through reading, I have gained much from others’ experiences. Some have guided me through my own life-happenings and some have helped me avoid more of my own blunders, steering me through the obstacles to a clearer path. Some have inspired me to give more in whatever way I can give. I owe them a debt of gratitude and an obligation to pass on my own stories and those of others. God gave me the desire and ability to write and I want to use the gifts given to me in the best way I can. Is it coincidence that my children's book, Tyson's Sad Bad Day just arrived? It is a book helping children and their parents deal with death and grief. Check it out at

And if God has called you to write, don’t wait any longer—write!

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Ruth, Congratulations on the publication of Tyson's Bad Day! May the book do well, and be used to touch and teach young lives.
I thought too, that despite the "waste" of the stories that were left untold with the passing of your loved ones, we can pray that those that were told, plus the godly impression made by their lives as lived in the grace of God, will continue to bear fruit in the months and years to come.

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