I went out for a ride around four this afternoon. My bike and I made long flat shadows as the sun inched toward the trees. Most of the oranges and reds are muted now, but I was struck by the beauty in the browns and tans. Crinkled-paper leaves on corn stalks, closed and rusted heads of Queen Anne's lace, weeds that hid all summer in green grass, are now blushing red. To think that all of this richness comes only in the process of dying...
I could chase that metaphor down a lot of paths, but I chose to ponder why it is so hard for me--and I imagine I'm not alone--to find beauty in the death of a vision. I thought back to the years when I joked of wallpapering a room with rejection slips. My goal was to see my first book published by the time I was 25. But with two little boys, I couldn't wrap my brain around tackling a novel, so I worked on poetry and short stories. In my "office"--a corner under the bare beams in the attic--I typed them out in triplicate, sacrificing a few trees in the process. And then I waited for the mail. And waited...and when it came I filled file folders with rejection slips. Why was it that I felt the calling to write but wasn't getting anywhere? Maybe I'd read the signals wrong. Another son was born, 25 came and went, as did my thirties... Maybe, I thought, I should just stick to journaling, leaving a legacy only for my future grandchildren.
And then one day in 1992, the phone rang. Without preamble, Cathy, my friend of 18 years, said, "I just threw a book at the wall. We can write better than this!" And so it began. By this point I was raising four boys. Cathy had three children. But we took up the challenge. And then came the unbelievable moment when Heartsong accepted Beauty for Ashes.
Looking back, of course, I can see the beauty in those discouraging days. In 1977, the year I turned 25--the age I'd planned to be published--I called myself a Christian, but really didn't know what that meant. I had so much to learn...about life, about the Lord, and about the craft. By 1994, when Beauty for Ashes came out,the genre of Inspirational Romance, which didn't even exist in 1977, was gaining attention. Heartsong Presents was a new line, looking for new writers. God's time, God's project.
I want to learn from the canvas I stared at on my ride today. I want to recognize that rust and brown and tawny gold are just as beautiful as summer greens and vibrant reds. The lesson I want to hang on to is...even as I long for spring, I can enjoy the journey and the beauty of the season and know that God is never late. And that would be my prayer for you.