Spring 2012 Outside the Walls: Being a Witness
I stood about as far away from the doorway as I could, daggers in my eyes. No way, I told myself. I'm not going inside that room. I put my walls up. I dug my heels in. I refused to go one step closer.
A friendly district LWML sister came up beside me, "Isn't this great? A convention highlight! We all just can't wait to go to Alma's workshop for writers. I know I'll see you inside!"
Oh, yeah? Not with a ten-foot pole. I knew "what was up." Even though I was a 30-something and still relatively new to the LWML, I suspected this workshop was a ploy, a trap. I knew "they" wouldn't let people ("me") attend a workshop like that without rooking me into doing one of my least favorite things: writing.
But here's the struggle:I adored Alma Kern, and I really wanted to hear what she had to say to us. Gifted author, gracious lady, beloved sister in Christ. She was our hometown gal — a "rock star," as the expression goes.
The door was about to close. Final call. "Okay, okay, I'll slip inside, I'll fade into the woodwork. 'They' won't see me. I'll be fine."
The only place left was in the second row — in front of the podium, no less. I slinked into the chair and sat motionless, hoping not to be noticed. But Alma turned my way, looked down from the raised dais, and welcomed me with a smile so warm and so personal it melted my icy heart. "Now we can begin," she nodded, and then she prayed.
I wish now I could remember every single word she said; my head was too wrapped up at the time, worrying whether someone was going to twist my arm afterward and commit me to a writing job. (By the way, my worries were for naught ... at least at that time.)
But I do remember this: Alma told us to be ourselves when we write. No fancy language necessary. Write naturally. Pray first. These things I have not forgotten.
In quiet ways, Alma Kern encouraged me over the years. When I became president of the Atlantic District LWML, Alma told me she would be praying every day for me and also for our LWML President. She sent me cheerful notes when I became Editor-in-Chief of the Quarterly. During our last earthly time together, at our district LWML convention, Alma firmly squeezed my shoulder as she passed by my aisle seat on her way back from the Lord's Table.
This past year, in the short span of a few months, my four earthly "support walls" — my dad, Marty; my mentor, Cathie; my mother, Lois, and finally, Alma — have gone to rest in Jesus' arms. Those underpinning life-walls of mine may no longer be present, but their life-witness to me of Christ remains.
Looking back to the "ten-foot pole," aka, writing for the LWML: My Jonah-like resistant journey may have started with a "Ninevah? No way!" attitude, but with my heavenly Father by my side, I continue to trust the Holy Spririt to guide my witness to others of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection in spoken — and, yes, written — words and actions.
And above all, pray first. Thank you, Alma.
Nancy Graf Peters
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