The Book I Bought at Breathe by Glenys Nellist
So I’m sitting in Panera in the suburbs of Chicago. I’m about to dive into my spinach and artichoke soufflé as I reach for my laptop. I’m good at eating while working. I have so much to do today: emails to respond to, events to add to my website, some editing to take care of, a blog post to write. But there it is, peeping out of my computer bag, inviting me to take it out: one of the many books I bought at Breathe.
I pull it out and decide to indulge. After all, I love the author’s words. Her final ones at the conference, where she was keynote speaker, have stayed with me ever since:
Go. Write. So that others will say, ‘a writer, who loves God and loves us, is among us.’
I’m reading chapter two in Crossing The Waters, where Leslie Leyland Fields is describing Yardenit, the baptismal site on the Jordan River, and how John the Baptist plunged the Son of God under the waters. I’m right there with her, remembering how my sister and I plunged under its cold waters a few years ago. And suddenly, I’m in the book. I’m part of the page. I’m caught up in her words. The soufflé is forgotten. The coffee goes cold. And I’m back at that awe-inspiring place where three white doves flew (can you believe it!) over our heads as we emerged, sodden, from the waters. And I so resonate with Leslie’s words as she describes Jesus’ baptism:
Was there ever such a time of hope and beginnings?
And somehow that beginning, that man rising from that river, even the beginnings of all beginnings, has something to do with all of us, wherever we are.
Wherever we are…. Wherever we are… All of us, wherever we are—even if I’m sitting in a Chicago Panera, eating a spinach and artichoke soufflé? Does Jesus baptism have something to do with me?
And I look around for a minute: at the two retirees meeting here for coffee, and the young man having his interview, and the toddler tugging her mom’s dress and pleading for a grilled cheese sandwich, and the waiter who had long hair last week, but donated his locks just yesterday… and I somehow know without any doubt that Jesus is right here, at this ordinary time in this ordinary place in these ordinary people. I know this.
Leslie was kind enough to sign my book. I didn’t see what she’d penned until after I left the conference:
To Glenys, she wrote, the fabulous writer with the gorgeous blue eyes… as you cross the waters of Galilee and Alaska, I pray Jesus comes near.
And he did, Leslie, he did. Jesus is near, whether I’m reading about your Alaska, or remembering my own emergence from the Jordan River, or eating a soufflé at Panera. Jesus is near.
Writers… write your words.
They have the power to remind us that Jesus is near.
Glenys Nellist is a best-selling children’s book author of twelve titles, including two popular series: Love Letters from God and Snuggle Time. Her most recent release is ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas. Glenys is married to David, and they are the proud parents of four adult sons, and the happy grandparents of four little ones. Connect with her at her website: glenysnellist.com