Sunday, April 13, 2008

Life Words

Sara's Stream

My spouse gave a beautiful sermon today, about taking a stand. This was no easy task, considering how well-worn the assigned passage was — the three men in the fiery furnace ("Rack, Shack and Benny," as Veggie Tales affectionately calls them).

I listened intently enough throughout, but it was a small bit at the end that really spoke.

At some point in the message, the story had been told, of a Japanese diplomat named Chiune Sugihara,* who'd been ordered to leave Lithuania in the summer of 1940. It was wartime. The diplomat packed his bags, but upon looking out his window noticed crowds pressed up against his fence... Jews who wanted exit visas, who wanted life.

The long and short of it is that Sugihara defied his government and handwrote visas, 300 a day for 29 days. And here's the bit that spoke: "His small act impacted the lives of thousands of people....And all he did was sit down and write, every day, for 29 days."

All he did was sit down and write.

It occurred to me, there in the morning light, in my little log cabin church, that this is my charge. To sit down and write, whether it be blog posts or notes, emails or books. For 29 days, or weeks, or years... who knows. I may defy nothing in this act. Or I may defy many things. The choice is mine.

What shall I do with my 29 days, or weeks or years?

I want to sit down and write. Life words.

*Click on "watch trailer" to see a brief clip about Sugihara

Stream photo by Sara. Used with permission.

Note: I leave for the Calvin Festival on Wednesday. So I'll not be writing here again until next week. I have many people to meet and decisions to make, so if you might, keep me in your prayers.

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Blogger Every Square Inch said...


Thanks for sharing this. I had not heard of Sugihara. It makes me think of how many unknown heroes there are, hidden in the history of this world.

Part of the joy of heaven is to uncover such stories.

Enjoy the Calvin Festival.

8:21 AM  
Blogger christianne said...

this is so good, ll. i can see why it would move you and come so personally home.

will be thinking of you while you're away at the calvin festival. what a great opportunity.

by the way, i've been meaning to tell you that i love your new profile pic. it has a calming effect on me. it's very grounding.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Thanks so much for this post--just what I needed to read today. (And perhaps every day for the next 29, at least).

Would love to huddle with you over a noon meal at Calvin. Truly you are one of the highest highlights for me of this year's Mount Hermon.

God's care as you travel and interact with those He puts in your path.


1:55 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Journey mercies, LL. I wish I could be there.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

What an inspiring story. I wish I could have been there to hear your spouse speak.

The thing is, my words aren't setting people free. Oh, sure, I could turn it into a big metaphor, but that would be a lie. I'm not risking my life in the morning when I write. And I'm not saving lives either. Sugihara did both.

On a lighter note: Have fun at Calvin! We expect a full report when you get back.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

What a gorgeous story! It makes sense why it touched you so dearly.

Have a blast at Calvin!

7:39 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Didn't Bonoffer (sp.) do that? Write and change lives? Or maybe not.
Your writing has changed me, too. :)
Just finished the book. It's great. I'll read it again, of course. :)
Have a wonderful trip.

7:51 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Every Square... yes, many unknown. I loved the story; it was amazing.

Christianne... glad you like the new pic. It's a stone wall at a woodland preserve nearby. As for this touching me personally, it almost didn't happen I guess. It was just the way he worded the phrase "all he did was sit down and write." That just jumped out at me.

Rebecca... the feeling is mutual.... regarding both MH and Calvin. Best wishes for your 29 days.

Craver... thanks. It won't be quite right, celebrating without you.

Mark... Hmmmm... have I been too melodramatic for you? Technically, I guess, Sugihara didn't "write" in the same way we do either. But the whole thing became a parable for me. There are things we can defy with our words... little bits of darkness, confusion, death, stuff like that. Or not. Words have incredible power, at least for me.

Sarah... yes, a good story. To be that compassionate is a true gift. Thanks for your well wishes regarding Calvin.

Andrea... absolutely, yes. His words are still changing lives I think. So glad the book touched you in some way. Such responses help me to sit down and write again.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The creative process sparks so many thoughts for me, but the busyness of life squelches them and I don't get all of them down.

It is a worthy goal to have to try to capture those impressions in writing.

Instead of trying to figure out how to "make time" to write, perhaps I'll think about it more along these lines--as an important goal to keep.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Grafted Branch said...

I'd not heard this story either. What a remarkable person.

I look forward to bookmarking you and reading more of what you'll say in the next 29 whatevers...

11:51 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

What a beautiful, inspiring story you shared. Words are very powerful.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is amazing to me how the Spirit can speak throuth our words. it can hit people in unexpected their own personal way. the person combining the words that go out, i think they do not always know how the words were used by the Spirit into the lives of others. but, a figure as long as the words are actually going out in Love...then they can be used in Love. and that is what your husband did, and that is what you do! through him to you and out again!!!! praise God.

enjoy the festival...go in Peace.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Yes, the children and I have read, again and again, a picture book version of this story. I choke up every time, the words blurring. The children grow quiet and pat my arm when I am overwhelmed by it all. A life laid down and lived well.

I hadn't thought of your analogy, LL. Thank you. I hear Mark: Can our words save lives?


But His can. And our words can be vessels for His.

Write and defy. Write and carry. Pray much.

So you do, and I will for you at Calvin.
He, The Word goes with you...

2:57 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

(Back from the trailer.
Lump in throat, swelling heart.
Go make a difference in the world with those words, LL. He uses brave hearts.)

3:03 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I hope Deb and I can meet you over at Calvin while you are there.

Hope you have a great time. It actually looks very good, as I just glanced at the schedule, though I know I don't know half the names on it.

And I didn't know your husband is a pastor! Cool.

8:36 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Jennifer... yes, that's why it's been good for me to take a little time each day, with a cup of tea outdoors, to write in my journal and just breathe.

Grafted Branch... welcome to Seedlings. I look forward to our 29 whatevers. :)

The Elementary... I love a good story. And I read somewhere recently, this wonderful quote... "stories are equipment for living"

Nancy... really good point. We shape words, then they go on and find dwelling places in unexpected ways and perhaps reshape along the way.

Ann... thank you for your sweet words. It does take bravery to write and defy... a bravery I don't always have. But it is good to think that He has courage I don't and might let that flow through this weak vessel.

Ted... why, that would be wonderful. Oh, and he's not a pastor. Just a speaker. Our church is unusual; we have a pastor speak 50% of the time and then we use other speakers to bring different perspectives. I wish he'd speak more often though.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Sounds like he's a wise man - what an excellent example of redeeming the moments we have!

Enjoy your trip- a letter will be waiting when you return.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL, love this post. God gives us all opportunities to do good works, huh? This man was a mere civil servant it seems. But God's opportunity for him, in that specific time and place, was far greater. May we all be fit for use for our own 29 days, for any such period that we are called for use by the Lord.

I'll be praying for you at Calvin. You are such a blessing.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was hit hard by that sentence "All he did was sit down and write."

I'll be honest though, despite being inspired by the sentence, I do find myself putting it off, thinking, yes, I can and will do it, but in a couple weeks.

I'm sharing and booking this blog post. Thanks so much.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL -- Since our wonderful conversation, I have been thinking about those 29 days, and how I am using my 29 days, or however many I have. Thank you for just sitting down and writing as you often do, and for encouraging us all to do the same.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

enjoy the festival events and everything!

we all will be with you in Spirit.

Love to you
and prayers

10:11 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

beatiful l.l., thank you for these words: all he did was sit down & write for 29 days and thousands of lives are changed.

i'm in a place right now where i needed to hear that & know it, to know that my writing need not be glamorous or even published to be something worthwhile.

thank you for sharing this morsel of truth.

11:12 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I love reading your blog.
I am looking forward to the next post.
I pray God's wondereous blessings over every aspect of your life.
Your blog has been a blessing to my life.
In Him,
Kinney Mabry

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice story. I can't imagine having to write something everyday, although I do so, having that as a goal would intimidate me too much.
best, GL HOFFMAN, Minneapolis

12:04 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

"all he did was sit down and write."

hmm. you're right - the choice is mine. great encouragement - thanks for sharing.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

It was so much fun and really good to meet the real person behind all this creativity and words. You're a blessing, and Deb and I thoroughly enjoyed our hour with you. You were so gracious to spend that time with us, even late in the evening after a busy couple of days.

It makes me all the more eager to read your books, and it reminds me of the grand reunion in Jesus we'll all have when we all meet together and then continue to see each other in the new creation, the new heaven and earth. So good though when we can experience some of that now.

Blessings on you and John and your family, and on your writing and the details that involve that! Will be praying!

7:14 AM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

What fun to receive an email and share that way with your your visit with Ted and Deb!!

I am certainly looking forward to receiving my package in the mail too as Ted also tells me the book is wonderful!

10:59 AM  

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