Thursday, May 10, 2007

My dad and Randy Alcorn

"Sometimes I say at writers' conferences that while many people think they want to write a book, what they really want is to have written a book. It's sort of like wanting to be thin without exercising or eating right. It's fun to hold in your hand a book you wrote, but good writing, like good farming and good bricklaying, takes real work." ~ Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn is one of my favorite writers. When I was in my early twenties I read a novel called Deadline by Alcorn. I passed it along to my dad to read.

Shortly after our big move to PA my mom and dad came up to have a vacation with us. Dad had just finished reading the book and we had the most amazing conversation as he and I traveled to the Pocono Mountains with baby Megan strapped in her car seat sleeping away the miles. We had to take two vehicles and somehow dad and I ended up with baby Megan in one car while Steve, my mom, and Joey were in the other. In life we have these golden moments that glimmer and shine long after it has past. My dad and I had just such a moment.

Deadline is about a group of long time friends dealing with the shock and mystery of the sudden death of one of them. It portrays the depth of human experience in the face of death. It sort of nods to C.S. Lewis as the book conveys both the life and after-life of the characters. I love it's honesty and compelling story. It was the only book I ever read and discussed with my dad as an "adult" and we had the best time picking it apart and looking at it from our differing vantage points.

My dad died suddenly just months later. I am so thankful to Alcorn for this piece of fiction and the way it allowed my dad and I to talk on a profound level about life and death and eternity. The reading of the book and the conversation we had about it helped me cope and have a certain measure of peace over the dramatic and unexpected death of my father.

I put the quote from Alcorn in the beginning of this blog because it speaks to me. I confess I want the result of hard work without the actual sweat involved. I want a ready-made depth of character without grinding away at persevering. I want so many things but I am so undisciplined.

Today I will finish things I have started and I will push through and do the hard work I have been putting off. Today is all about sweat and perseverance. Today is about bricklaying. Now I must go and do! Thank you to my late father and Randy Alcorn for this unexpected inspiration today.

p.s. The only time I ever actually laid bricks was in El Salvador in the sweltering heat one day. For most of the week we had dug the soft volcanic dirt for what seemed to me like an epic penitence. After all that dirt we were thrilled to finally build something. We, in our exhaustion and after painfully following the confusing directions, erected a wall that the Salvadorians laughingly referred to as "Serpentine." Even though the wall came down and the expert Salvadorians came to our rescue I learned I could push thru and persevere. It was such hard laborious work but I would do it again just to share in the sweat and build not a building but a foundation of friendship and comraderie. Ahh, the memories...

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