My writing comes when I am passionate about something. This can be passionately angry, passionately happy, passionately thoughtful, or passionately determined. But, writing never comes when I am mundane. Sentimentality first hit me in college when I wrote a poem and my Missions professor loved it and asked permission to use it. I didn’t think it was very good and was embarrassed. I didn’t give him permission. I have regretted that decision.
Another one of my early poems was written from a memory I had about my Grampa when I was growing up. I wrote it in honor of him, but just couldn’t find the words to end the poem. It seemed to be unfinished. Never finding the right ending, I put it away. Several years later my mom was called to the nursing home where Grampa lived. Mom didn’t drive, so she asked me to drive her over and we wondered on the way if he would be gone before we got there. When we arrived, the nurse supervisor was standing at the door. I remember it so well. Like it was yesterday.
Grampa had breathed his last only moments before we arrived. I waited with my mom until her brother and sister arrived, then left to go back to work. Grampa was 92 and was ready to go home. As I drove, the final stanza of the poem came to me.
“Who ya’ talkin’ to Grampa?” asked the child upon entering the shed.
The old man turned and gently smiled, “Just my Friend,” he said.
The child looked ‘round but couldn’t find her Grampa’s Friend that day.
It didn’t matter much to her so she went on her way.
Once when the child was older, she played with kittens in the loft.
She heard her Grampa speaking in a voice low and soft.
So she listened to what he was saying, and she understood that day.
With joy she finally realized, she’d been listening to him pray.
For Grampa’s life was filled with prayer – Sweet communion with his Friend.
A gentle, faithful servant for whom God would one day send.
“Where ya’ goin’ Grampa?” I whispered soft and low.
“To greet my Friend,” he answered, and so with joy I let him go.
-Dedicated to Grampa Attig, May 17, 1990
Hearing Grampa’s conversations with God impacted my life. He spoke as if God was right beside him. I learned from my Grampa that God is always there and that prayer should be constant. Not just before meals. Not just when you need something. Not just in church. They should be daily conversations with my Friend.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:13-15