Say what you want about Donald Miller, but people resonate with him. Kendra and I, along with our friend Faith trekked off to Baltimore to hear him speak the other night. I went straight after work and didn't get home till almost midnight - but it was well worth the trip. He has been touring around the country promoting his new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and talking to people about this newfound passion - The Mentoring Project. He is also serving on President Obama's Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families, where I know he will make a tremendous difference. (Here's his tour schedule.)
The gathering the other night was in this beautifully subdued Presbyterian church. I typically don't attend church buildings of that stature - but found I was taken in with this simple elegance. The surroundings seemed fitting. The conversation opened with Susan Issacs who shared with a lot of energy and humor about a time when she was angry with God. It was pretty engaging. Donald Miller followed. Although I have seen pictures of him, including one very overly large one that was hanging outside the church just in case we were tempted to miss it, I was taken in by how he spoke with the same casual conversational style with which he writes.
I was also pretty excited to meet up with my online friend Wendy, also a writer. She is the one that told me about the book and book tour, knowing that I too was a Donald Miller fan. I devoured the new book within days of receiving it - a major accomplishment for me in this phase of life where I have so little time and such inability to concentrate. His talk put breath and humanity to his words. It was inspiring on many levels. As a writer, I was inspired to write a good story, and as a human being I was inspired to live one. He talks about all of the elements of story and relates that to the narrative aspect of the Bible. He talked about how no good story is without conflict, and how we can make choices to enter a story that can have an impact on the world. He talked about the things that may be said of us as "those Christians" as we engage our faith in the world around us for the better. Hearing this out loud made me stop being ashamed of calling myself a Christian. It had beauty and depth and meaning. I wondered for a long time on the way home how I had let that be stolen from me as a follower of Christ.
After the talk, there was a meet and greet time to have your books signed. All the hand-shaking and touching compelled me to approach the table with my hand sanitizer gel at the ready for our host, but I restrained the urge lest I look like a freaky germ-o-phobe. Kendra had my book to sign and was ecstatic at getting to meet her "favorite author". I stood behind them. I didn't say a word. I didn't shake a hand. I was in that writer's space in my head and found that I was content to stand behind them and take in the moment.
When we left I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.