I’d been hearing about this book for a while now. Monday night, the author was in town and it seemed time to “jump” into a purchase. My friend Madonna bought another of Ray’s books and I grabbed this one, our intentions being to swap after we’re finished and get two reads for the price of one.
Already, just one day into it, there are “dog ear” folds all over the place. I’m hoping my friend won’t find the read too messy by the time I’m through. The first dog ear came at the introduction. This bodes well for what will follow.
I’ve said it before but I really do love conversion stories. Reading about the life of a soul and the journey it takes, leading up to the moment it turns a corner and is set on an entirely new path, is exhilarating. I can’t help but celebrate for the converted; the one who has come back to life. What can offer more cause for joy, really, than a soul’s salvation?
And Steve Ray, as I now know from up-close-and-personal experience, is one guy who, if you’re not already enthused, will ignite a fire within your heart just from witnessing his passion. The lackluster who do not feel a surge of energy in his presence can’t be more than stumps. This guy throws everything he has into his presentations. And by the time he reached the prairie, he was fresh from a trip to Israel. How do you accomplish such a zippy feat running solely on jet-lag fumes?
His conversion story, “Crossing the Tiber,” started not as a book but a letter to his father to thank him for the example of faith he’d shown. I did something similar when I was going through my own conversion of sorts.
My parents hadn’t lived out the faith perfectly, anymore than I have, though each contributed something of tremendous value. I’d say my mom did an especially nice job of guiding us with actions and eternal hope despite difficulty, and my father, with words encouraging us to stay with God, even during the years he didn’t feel up to the task himself. How could I not be grateful for the ways they demonstrated that life with God is the better life?
Steve experienced a similar bursting when he discovered the Catholic faith was something more compelling and beautiful than what he’d been led to believe, and he wanted to give credit where it was due. He knew that his Protestant roots and his parents’ examples had laid down the groundwork for him coming to the place at which he now found himself. He had to write out his feelings.
The first line of his introduction: “There are times in one’s life when an overwhelming urge arises somewhere deep in the soul, and one has to write.”
You know it, don’t you? You’ve experienced it, too. There’s nothing better, or more cathartic, than taking pen to paper in such times.
I can’t imagine not having the tools I need and the gifts of expression that allow me to do this. Without them I would be forever at the point of bursting.
“This story had to be written,” Ray continued. “We would have burst with pent-up joy had it not found its way onto paper.”
Isn’t it true? Writing is as much a need as anything else, especially to those of us drawn to this craft. But I would say it’s a fairly universal thing. The cavemen found ways to draw those animals on the walls of their homes, to keep track of their lives, to give expression to what they were experiencing.
Writing, as much as anything, is an action that helps keep us from bursting.
Q4U: When did you think you would burst with ideas, and what did the release of that produce?