Theology in the Trenches

Why do I write?
Kathleen Kjolhaug
Friday, July 26, 2019
Article Image Alt Text

Every so oft I pause to remember why it is that I write. This year it was triggered by two events. First, a reader commented in the middle of a conversation, “I know why you write!” Second, about two months later, another reader commented, “I know why you write!”

Both times it took me so much by surprise that I failed to ask what exactly they meant. By hind sight, I’m not sure I wanted to know … as maybe it would have hit a little too close to home. What those two comments did do, however, was to spur me on to think about the purpose for my writing and to remember why it is I do what I do. Truth-be-told, I’m thinking as I write … so I can’t wait to read all about it!

First thought popping up is that it’s fun. I like it, and as any writer will tell you, writers cannot … not … write. That’s all there is to it. We see our world and decide to paint it with words. We give voice to a part of it that might otherwise go unnoticed. At times we share intimately in hopes that even though we might be a bit too transparent, perhaps there is another heart that will resonate. And when one heart resonates, it is worth it.

The best compliments I’ve ever received have been in the form of hand written letters, emails, or phone calls validating that what I shared was much appreciated. The worse complaint I ever received was from someone who informed me that they knew someone in their family who read my columns and apparently the consensus was that they are dumb. I simply reminded her that they all had a choice and certainly did not have to read them if they did not want to. Frankly, I didn’t know what else to say.

I suppose asking a writer why they write is not much different than asking a painter why they paint. I suppose it’s not much different than asking a welder why they weld. Painting changes the landscape of life and welders help hold things together. Maybe there are times when my writing helps hold my world together and paints it in a way that is easier to digest. After all, life is hard and life is a long time … if we are lucky.

Recently, my husband and I decided to do a first ever Father’s Day run. We drove several hours to see his 93 year old father. We then got back into our vehicle and drove several more to see mine who is 86. We then drove several hours in order to return home. We left at 8:00 a.m. and got back about 9:00 p.m. as if we were just making a run across the street to say hello.

At one of our visits, the world seemed to stop full tilt as I caught a conversation taking place on a side note from the main topic we’d been discussing. The little couple suddenly were in world all their own. The man turned to his wife of over 65 years and quietly questioned, “Where is my mom?”

Taking his hand she gently patted it, “She’s in heaven.”

While looking a little puzzled, he continued, “She is?”

“Yes. And, she’s happy … she’s very happy” came the loving response.

With hesitancy he asked, “How do you know?”

“Because the Bible says so,” she stated peacefully. And with that he, too, rested in her words.

And that is why I write … so we will remember that we are not alone. “He never leaves us nor forsakes us” (Heb. 13:5).

I write so we will never forget what has been written. Amen.

( Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)