One does a lot of walking at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Events are held all over the Calvin College campus; and as it turns out, rarely are the things I choose to attend adjacent to one another. I’m in pretty good shape, but I do tire. Let’s face it: the days that my body is accustomed to walking all day long and to and fro on a college campus with a loaded bag scholpped over my shoulder are long past. I’m thankful that this campus is smaller than 40 acres.
God brought paths to mind today as I walked and reflected on the past two days. In one session participants learned about the all-important platform. Industry folk say “platform” is a buzzword that is heard ad nauseam. For me, it’s a whole new world. A platform, I gather, is something that a writer absolutely must have if she is to publish her work. It is a writer’s resume of sorts, displaying her writing, publications, speaking engagements, connections, readers, trade activity, etc. For most of us this takes the form of our websites and blogs. One must have a pretty solid one prior to querying publishers. Publishers will trudge through a potential author’s platform like a fine-toothed comb, not only to sense whether said author will be able to sell books, but to ascertain if she is, indeed, a skilled writer whose work people are actually reading.
One of the session panelists, the online publicity manager for her publisher employer, read off what seemed to be a battery of questions for we hopefuls as we build our platforms. “What have you written? Do you have any publications? How many Facebook followers do you have? How many Twitter followers? About what do you Tweet? How much traffic does your website/blog attract? (Read: do people actually read your stuff?) What is the average number of comments on your blog posts? How often do you blog?” I could go on. You probably get the picture. “It takes a while, often years, to build a platform,” she said as she rounded out her remarks. Even someone who seriously lacks sensitivity could have felt the despondence in the room. The body of each Festival attendee, including me, appeared to have lost some vivacity.
Enter the path…the path God is now showing me that I’ve been unwittingly trodding. I created my own website. I’ve been blogging regularly because I love theological reflection and writing. I’ve written articles and had them published on two online journals and one written publication. I thought it would be fun to try my hand at book reviews, so I did and added these to my blog. Because I’m an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament, I have the privilege of filling pulpits. I blog for my denomination, and am blessed to serve on the Commission on Theology and soon on a General Synod Task Force. All of these things I’ve done over the past two years out of love and passion, and because I felt led. No more, no less.
Or so I thought.
Voila! whispered the Holy Spirit as I walked a nicely paved path between Festival events today. Behold your platform. You’ve been building it all this time.
I stopped to look at my feet on the path. They suddenly came into greater focus. I felt the ground on which I was standing. It was firm beneath me. I looked behind me on the path that I had just walked. The haze of the past two years cleared, and my eyes saw more than what was there before.
I smiled at God and her handiwork. And I worshipped.
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, Lord, but now my eye sees you (Job 42:5).