Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wonderful Words of Life

Often in life we don’t fully realize the value of something until we don’t have it.  Every time the electricity is interrupted, we are reminded how much we depend on it. The same thing happens when we no longer can read. 

As writers, especially, our lives pivot on words and weaving those words to tell stories, to share experiences, to encourage, teach and enlighten.  I often tell people I need to read as much as I need to eat in order to stay healthy.  Probably many of you do too. To create a card or write a note, finding words to say exactly what I want to convey, is one of the richest experiences I can think of.  It only gets better if the person it’s meant for truly gets the message and lets it sink into their hearts. 

In the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of going every other week to the Day Centre for Seniors that I helped bring into being, but haven’t been involved in for several years now.  I spend about an hour reading to a group of five to ten.  Most of those are avid readers who can no longer see the printed pages.  The look on their faces and the smiles of appreciation make it very rewarding. It’s almost like serving a full meal to a starving person.  They are truly grateful to hear short stories, poems or personal experience accounts and then to chat about what feelings were raised in their hearts with the reading.

Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider has been a big hit at those readings, as well as other anthologies with short, personal stories.  Last week I took some of my old readers from public school and read a few of the favorites I’ve read probably hundreds of times.  That brought back a lot of good memories to share.  Magazines provide interesting articles and sometimes the internet sends something my way that I must read to my little audience.
Whatever I read to them, they seem to like it best if I include some of my own writings.  I can already see that I will have added incentive to write about what I observe so I can share it with them.  There is another advantage to that.  When I read aloud what I have written to a rapt audience, I hear it through different ears.  It becomes a good editing experience. I see where I need more explanation or description.   I suddenly become aware of repetition of words, or superfluous trails I sometimes take.  Bless my listeners; they are very tolerant of those.  It doesn’t seem to take away from their enjoyment, but it adds to the fine-tuning of my craft.  

So, to the readers of this blog, I’d like to put out a challenge to you.  You may have a Seniors Day Centre near you, you probably have nursing homes not far away and almost certainly you have senior neighbours or fellow church members who may have trouble reading.  Seek out an opportunity in one or more of these, set aside a day a week or every other week, and share your writing with someone who can no longer see well enough to do it themselves. Can you imagine how many people’s lives could be enriched if each writer would pledge to do this?  If you would like helpful comments or critique on your writing, you can probably get it just by asking.  Many of your listeners are competent and well read. If they are retired teachers, editors or writers themselves, they can give good pointers and valuable feed-back.  Their age and insights will give you an additional advantage. That will be added profit for both of you—you will improve your writing, and they will have the satisfaction of using their talents in a meaningful way. 

The greatest gift of all, will be the relationships you form with people who have lived rich and full lives and who have a great deal to share with us if we are open to listen too!  It will be a good way to give and receive wonderful words of life.


Glynis said...

Brilliant, idea, Ruth. I think that is such a blessing for you to read to senior's. I agree - sometimes it is like feeding the hungry. And good on you for promoting A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, this way. I am sure some of the conversations are great! Great post.

Bobbi Junior said...

What a great idea, Ruth. Our agency is looking for activities for a day program for seniors. Reading to them is such a simple one that we've never considered it. I've shared your post with our organizers.

Peter Black said...

Thank you Ruth for your enriching thoughts and suggestions. A member of one of my former congregations, horridly crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, read inspirational books, poetry and the Scriptures to fellow residents of her nursing home. The staff would set a book on her electric wheelchair's tray, and she managed -- with difficulty -- to turn the pages. It was a great ministry for her and her audience. ~~+~~

Sally said...

This is interesting timing. A well-known author in my city just put out a request for his "lit" friends to come and read poems at the senior citizens' home he works at in honour of Valentine's Day. I'm not sure if I can manage it in and amongst my appointments this week, but it's definitely on my radar for the future! Thanks for sharing!

Kimberley Payne said...

I love the idea, Ruth! I plan to see if I can do readings of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider at the senior's home in my village.

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