Making a Difference
The classic Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” continues to delight viewers with a powerful, and important message. Each of our lives touches a multitude of others.
In the depths of despair and feeling there is no way out, George Bailey [James Stewart] is shown what would have happened if he had never lived.
We can only speculate on what effect our lives will have on others. We can, however, look to the past and catch glimpses of how we affected those around us.
Little did I know the far-reaching effects of a conversation with my brother in the summer of 1978. Led to quit my government job and go into fulltime writing, Mom and I moved a few miles from his home Memorial Day weekend.
“Contact the college up the street from you and see if you can teach a writing class,” Randy advised.
I laughed. “Teach at a college? I only have about 45 college credits.”
“Your published books. would qualify you to teach in the Continuing Education program,” he persisted. “A lady at church works for the college. Ask her who you should approach.”
Still feeling inadequate, but conquering my misgivings, I did. It turned out she was the secretary in the Continuing Education program! I ended up teaching Creative Writing from fall 1978 until the mid-1990s. This also led to my teaching at the Auburn Senior Center until 2012.
- Students welcomed the opportunity to learn writing skills and marketing know-how. A surprising percentage took the class again and again, needing encouragement to keep writing and face the inevitable rejection slips that come with the job.
- Many sold stories, articles, even books.
- Others found joy in recording memories for family and friends.
- A few even went on to become award-winning, best-selling authors.
The best thing that came from the class was the formation of life-long friendships, some life-changing. Students committed to a common cause bonded. Decades later, a surprising number of former students remain best friends, supporting one another in critique groups, or one-on-one. I am so thankful I did not let fear of the unknown cause me to reject Randy’s suggestion. Lives continue to be enriched, mine, most of all.
* * *
One Solitary Life
He was born in an obscure village. The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty-three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life.