It's been a pretty busy week at work. I don't know where the day goes.
Last weekend I went to a Christian writers workshop at a Methodist church in Vienna, Va. The keynote speaker was the managing editor of The Upper Room magazine, which I had not heard of -- it turns out to be very similar to Living Faith, a Catholic daily devotional I often use. I went to the workshop feeling pretty nervous because I didn't know what to expect -- little old ladies who wanted to write for Guideposts? Evangelical fundamentalist stay-at-home moms? Card-carrying Republicans?
Turns out the people who came to the conference were ... Christians. Christians of all stripes. Fun, intelligent Christians who wanted to use the gifts God had given them in ways that would lift up His people. In one breakout session, someone mentioned Annie Lamott, whose books about writing and faith are among my favorites, and a bunch of people started animatedly discussing why they liked her too. They talked about "shitty first drafts" and how hard it is to make time to write and their doubts about whether they had anything worth writing about. They were, in other words, a lot like me. My fears were unfounded. We were from different churches, backgrounds and stages of life, but the things we had in common were all that mattered.
The workshop didn't do much for me in technical terms, but it gave me something far more valuable than, say, a lesson in how to write a book proposal and pitch it to a publisher: It got me thinking about talent and why God gives it to us. I'm not sure how much of a coincidence it was that the Gospel reading the next day at church was the parable of the talents. I don't think God "gives" us gifts (musical abilities, eloquence, writing skills) so much as He asks us to take custody of them, the way the master in the parable entrusts his money to the servants. God gives us these treasures with the expectation that we will use them to further His kingdom here on Earth. How are we doing?
I don't like the answer to that question right now, but facing the answer is the first step in changing it.
By the way, when I went to look up the Guideposts site just now so that I could link to it, I happened across a really fantastic column. There go my preconceived notions again. Dammit! At this rate I'll never be able to make fun of anything ever again! Oh, well. There are always celebrities to mock.