Having been raised in a Mennonite home with pacifistic traditions, I’ve had a difficult time coming to terms with Remembrance Day and all it stands for. I am more thankful than I can say for those who risked or gave their lives so I can live in peace. I can recite “In Flanders Fields,” and it fills me with emotions. I wear a poppy to express my gratitude as well as my sorrow for the lives cut short, even though I don’t believe in war as a means of settling disputes.
1. I learned that sometimes you don’t go anywhere as a writer until you take a risk. I got hired as a correspondent because I took a risk and pitched an editorial the day after 9/11.
2. I learned that 100-year-old women do not handle long interviews well. They tend to fall asleep.
3. In my contract writing, I learned way more than I ever wanted to about tires, crop lifters, and insurance portfolios, but on the flip side, I can now carry on a somewhat intelligent conversation with the people behind these businesses.
4. I learned that collaborating with other writers and praying with them opens doors. I got the pastors of our community together to suggest an inspirational/biblical type column and pitched it to the editor. I thought she would flick me out of her office like a pesky mosquito. Instead, she welcomed the idea and the column “Pass the Salt” has been running for 15 years.
5. I learned that many people do not read the newspaper in my town and that most people still do not realize that I write for the paper, but the ones who do are very encouraging. And sometimes all you need to keep going is one person stopping you on the street and saying, “Thank you.”
It happened at sundown.
My wife and I, with our three preschool daughters, had just arrived and were staying with some missionary friends in their home on the edge of a small Brazilian town. At dusk I went outside to cool off. I looked over the fields below the house where a wide path led from the jungle on my right to the town at my left. Our host joined me.