It has been a privilege to share these memories with so many. Many of you have asked me why I chose to “publish” this memoir of sorts on this blog instead of pursuing or waiting for a book contract to come my way.
When the Holy Spirit moves, He means business.
Many of you have read my moment of despair here, a moment that really began many years ago and came to full fruition that one Friday in Pennsylvania. Over the course of the week that followed God’s light began to shine in those dark places fully illuminating the truth and what I needed to do to move out of this space and direct me onto the correct path I am supposed to be on.
The following weekend presented a series of events that changed the course of my journey. Saturday my fellow romance writer’s from the Washington Romance Writer’s welcomed Michael Hauge, a talented Hollywood screenwriter and writing coach for a weekend workshop. Over the course of the next two days, I listened to him present the idea of “identity” and “essence” of our heros and heroines. He walked through the “Heros Journey” and all the elements that make for a strong novel.
At the end of the first day he posed a question to each of us.
“What is preventing you from completely this novel? What is standing in your way. We are all wounded. We all have fears and obstacles in our lives. So ask yourself the following question.” he said.
“I would do anything to (blank), but just don’t ask me to (blank) because it’s just not me.”
“You’ll know you have the right answer when you fill in the second blank. It should scare the crap out of you. That’s the fear you need to face and overcome.”
With that he ended the first day of workshops and we all went our separate ways for the evening before returning the next day for the final half day of talks.
It was a lot to sit with and mull over. As I left the conference room, my phone rang. It was my mother.
“Hey Mom, What’s up?”
“What time am I meeting you tonight for the talk.”
She had asked me three weeks prior to join her for a talk that evening at St. Peter’s Church in Olney. The speaker, Kevin Wells, would be talking about his memoir “BURST”. She had heard him speak before and really thought I would enjoy his presentation.
I was tired and just wanted to go home.
“Mom, I am not sure I’m up for it tonight.”
“Mary, he’s good. Really good and I think you need to hear him speak. He’s funny. He’s Irish. He’s a good storyteller. It’s 90 minutes. Your already here. I’ll meet you at the Starbucks on 108. The church is right down the street.
a little vice inside my head spoke..."you don’t say no to your mother"...
“Fine Mom. He better be funny. I’ll see you in an hour.”
I arrived at the coffee shop, and purchased a restorative chai latte. Then Mom and I headed to the church.
Kevin Wells was a captivating speaker sharing his storing of a miraculous healing from a brain bleed that should have taken his life. He spoke of God’s grace in the midst of suffering. He spoke of miracles and moments of tremendous mercy. He spoke of forgiveness and healing.
Toward the end of his talk, he told a story about when he traveled to Lourdes on a healing pilgrimage. I leaned forward with great interest. He said that one evening he was in a bar with a fellow pilgrim and they were discussing all that had happened during their trip.
Kevin said "I told my friend that if we keep what happens in Lourdes, in Lourdes, than we haven't done what God has asked us to do."
I almost fell out of my chair. I grabbed my mothers hand. She sat there calmly not surprised at all. "I told you you needed to hear him speak." she whispered.
He had just repeated, word for freaking exact word, what my father had said over 10 years ago. I tried to steady myself. The emotion of the memory was threatening to over take me. I had not done what he said. Not in ten years.
After the talk was finished and Kevin had signed everyones books, I had the opportunity to speak to him one on one.
"You must be Mary Beth. Your mother had told me all about your story and your daughter Courtney. Have a seat. Let's chat."
No man had called me Mary Beth since my Dad died. I almost lost it right there. We spoke of miracles and promises unkept. He asked if I had written everything down.
"Yes," I said.
"Is it published? Can I buy the book? I would love to read it." He said.
"Well no, it's not, at least not yet." I answered.
"Oh, so you have it on your blog, the story of Lourdes and how you figured everything out?"
"Well no, not exactly."
"Your blog is called Passionate Perseverance. Strong, gutsy...I like it. You must have other stories on there."he insisted.
"Some. I also publish book reviews and lots of recipes. I love to cook." I was nervous and felt defensive. No one had pushed like this since my Dad.
"Hmm. What are you afraid of?" He asked, looking directly at me. "Being called a "Holy Hannah"? Being "Too Catholic"? What's stopping you from writing it?"
I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head.
"OK. I feel compelled to insist that you complete the task. When I go to your blog it will be ther. I have complete confidence in you and your story. I can't wait to read it."
I just sat there staring at him.
"Mary Beth, if you leave what happened in Lourdes, in Lourdes, than your not doing what God asked you to do."
Crap. I had just figured out the answer to Michael Hauge's second question. I didn't want to disappoint anyone. I didn't want to get it wrong. Was I really a decent enough writer to do this? To make it worth reading? To honor what happened? Yes, it scared me to death.
I thanked him for the vote of confidence, we exchanged information and I left with my Mom. As we were walking to the car my mother out her arms around me. I started to cry.
"What are you afraid of?"
"Mom, once you tell a story, press publish, it's no longer yours. I can't control what happens to it. Some people won't understand. They are going to think we're nuts. How do you explain what happened? There is not explanation than it comes straight form God. AWESOME! Now I hear divine voices! Yes! That shows mental stability."
"Mary Beth, look at you. The burden you and Jerry carry is a heavy one. Most days you carry it with great joy and grace. But God was very direct with you in Lourdes. You need to accept that Courtney has a job to do to and she needs your words to do it. God is working through you both, sharing what love really looks like. It's all about giving of yourself to something greater than yourself. This is what you have been called to do. To speak the truth with love. You need to walk through the fire of your fear and let it go. God is waiting for you to move Mary Beth...so move."
Yeah...walk through the fire of your fear...sure...no problem...let me get right on that walking through fire thing...yup...thanks Daddy...thanks a lot!
"I'll think about it Mom. I will. I promise."
"Your Dad's counting on you Mary. So's Kevin. I love you." She hugged me and we parted ways.
I cried all the way home, trying to convince myself that this night did not happened and I did not need to put myself out there like that. It was fine. Courtney's story could be told without all the stress of proper grammar and punctuation. I called Jerry and clued him in on what transpired. He laughed.
"Mary, I have told you for three years to just walk with it. Now you have heard directly from your Dad. What are you waiting for? Just do it!"
Ahhhh! It was just too much...
I got home and Jerry took one look at my red eyes and runny nose and just opened his arms.
Smart man I married. I just wept. He was silent. Then after about 5 minutes he pulled away and asked the fateful question "When do you want to start posting?"
I laughed. "Monday, I'll do it Monday."
It's not perfect but I saw it through to the end...as my both my father's asked...
Thanks Daddy for speaking through the heart of another Irishman to get your daughter to move...I miss you...I love you...I hope I made you proud...
Labels: Courtney's World, My Story