FCWC BLOG

The Quote for the Quarter Hour
6/3/2016 4:22:36 PM by: Robert Benson

 

Editor's Note: We are pleased to announce that Robert Benson has offered to write a column a month for our newsletter, and we have permission to use it here on our blog also. Here we begin "Quote for the Quarter Hour" by Robert Benson:

 

This is the Quote for the Quarter Hour:

I seem to stagger about this agonized world as a clown, dressed in happiness, hoping to reach the hearts and minds of the young. When newspaper reporters ask me what effect my songs have, I try and make a brave reply, but I am really not so certain. — Pete Seeger


WE WHO WRITE begin to do so for all kinds of reasons.

We fall in love with books and stories and phrases and words, and then decide we want to spend our lives as one who wrestles with such things.
    

We find some subject or cause or idea to which we are drawn and we make up our minds to participate in the corresponding conversation in the hope that our contribution might make a difference, a difference in the caliber of the conversation if not in the outcome itself.
    

We write some bit of something and then some collection of somethings over time — homilies and sermons, columns and features, newsletters and blogs, poems and meditations — and people read our scribbles and encourage us to write some more, and we begin to think we can make something worth writing and reading by engaging in the ancient art of ink on paper.
    

We read or re-read another in the long line of books by our favorite writer and begin to say to ourselves, ‘I think I would like to try and do that.’

THEN we have a bit of success. 
    

We sell a few columns or stories, we land a ghostwriting contract or a book deal. The thing gets made and we hold it in our hands and watch it as it wanders out into the world. Strangers read our things and write to us and ask us to come and speak at workshops and conferences and retreats as though we know something that they do not know or cannot learn without our help. 
  

Some of us sell a few books, and then a few more and maybe even a few more. We stumble into the notion that we have an ‘audience’ or at least that is what our agents and publishers and friends tell us. We dream of bigger contracts and bestseller lists and earning back our advances and actually receiving royalty checks. Heady times, eh?
    

And then the Seeger question comes along. It comes our way in a moment or even for a whole season, and no matter what words we use, our answer comes out like his.
  

 Am I the only one?

I WAS IN CAROLINA a few weeks ago to see friends, one of them a minister on the staff of a lovely church. She had mentioned in passing that I was coming to town and the senior pastor, a man named Ben who is far too young to be the ‘senior’ of anything, knowing my love for baseball called me to see if I wanted to take in a ball game with him and his kids. It was followed up by an invitation to read from my new things on Sunday for a crowd of people at the church.
    

Toward the end of my reading, Ben came in to listen to the last few minutes. I finished with a prayer and when I opened my eyes I discovered that Ben was standing next to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and raised his other hand to stop people from hurrying away. 
    

‘I want to say one thing,’ he said. ‘Fourteen years ago I heard Robert speak and began to read his books and I would not be your pastor today if not for him.’
    

I have been blamed for a lot of things in my life, but I was happy for that.

WE MAY be merely scribes, maybe even Pharisees from time to time. We are most certainly clowns of one sort or another. But we cannot quit, not now, not ever. 
  

For Pete’s sake — for Ben’s sake — keep writing.


 

 

 

ROBERT BENSON is a writer who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He leads retreats and speaks at conferences around the country, talking about art and prayer and the contemplative life. Feel free to write him at rbstudio2@mac.com. 

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Comments

Laura Watts From South Carolina At 6/4/2016 7:46:10 AM

Thanks for your encouraging words. May God continue to use your word ministry to touch hearts for Him. I''m a beginning writer and hope someday to be able to express to others the depths of God''s love I know and cherish.

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