I can still remember us as 18-year-old young women. We’re on the floor of our residence director Sandy’s apartment in our freshman dorm. She’s told us she wants to share a song with us. We sit as the tape player sends the music into the air:
In this suffering and blindness
The milk of human kindness spills
And no one cries
With his ninety eight pound frame
Stickman doesn’t carry too much weight
In a world where everybody dies
This was my introduction to the gifted singer-songerwriter Pierce Pettis.
In the 22 years since, I have listened to Pettis’ music. I’ve seen him play in churches and coffee houses, and when I need my soul to settle, when I need it to remember how to sing, it’s his music that I put on.
Yet, I expect that for most of you this blog post will be the first time you’ve ever heard his name. He’s not very famous. He doesn’t fill arenas with his shows. His space is more intimate. He speaks to aching hearts not hulking crowds.
There’s a lot of advice out there. Do this to get more readers? Do this to sell more books? Do this to build your mailing list? Do this to get more people to love you?
Certainly, if we write, we want to have people read our words. I’m wondering though if some of this advice is much more about filling some space inside our spirits rather than it is about connecting with people.
Lately, I’ve been letting the Spirit whisper to me about how my job is not to get my work to get my book on the bestseller’s list. I’ve been resting in the idea that my job is to write the best things I can, to write them for the people who need them, to pray that they are honest and helpful and real, and to then let them go.
Here’s the facts. I have a few hundred subscribers to this blog, and I love every single one of you for giving me your time and space. But when I’m focusing too much on “building my list,” I lose sight of both you and me. Instead, my vision sharpens onto some number that means absolutely nothing.
I’m beginning to learn (or is it to remember?) that the size of the audience doesn’t matter. I’m beginning to be encouraged to sit with where I am, who I am, and what I have to say, right now. I’m finding myself thrilled to speak with the people who have crossed my path, and more and more, my words turn toward what I hear you all saying.
So thank you for being here. Thank you for speaking to me. Thank you for listening. My prayer is that the things I say may bring you a bit of what you need today.
Just now, Pettis’ song “We Will Meet Again” came on, and the hope I take in seeing Mom again has filled my heart and my eyes.
It’s those quiet moments with songs, books, friends, partners – it’s those that matter. Not the arenas full of folks. Not the bestseller’s lists. Not the Amazon rank or the income bracket.
The quiet moments where a steel string guitar dances in the air and the summer morning is golden and crisp with dew. There, I sit with you and sing.
That’s more than I will ever need.