It’s time for my Sunday Reflection, in which I post some of my thoughts on almost any issue connected to writing, faith or life in general.
As the week begins in which my 8th novel, The Darker Road prepares to release (it’s supposed to be available on Amazon as of Tuesday, August 6), I embark on another attempt to be more regular and consistent with my blog – more on that later. Today, though, I want to get started by sharing a brief reflection on belonging.
I spent the last two days at the inaugural Realm Makers Conference here in St. Louis. In brief, it is a fledgling writer’s conference geared toward Christians who write speculative fiction – which includes lots of things, but the two most common genres identified within spec fiction are Science Fiction and Fantasy.
The original goal for the conference was to get 30 attendees, but when Realm Makers opened on Friday morning, there were almost three times that many. Having 80-85 people at a writer’s conference may not seem like a big deal, but if you know anything about the history of the Christian publishing world & speculative fiction, you know it has been an uphill battle for proponents of and authors in this genre. To have so many people from all over the country – I had conversations last night with people from Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Minnesota and more – was quite an accomplishment.
As I talked to people, asking if they’d enjoyed it, if it had been helpful, if they would come again, one common strain among their enthusiastic replies was a sense of belonging, of how great it had been to be gathered together with other, like-minded people. Instead of feeling like a small fringe-dweller at a mainstream, traditional writing conference, they felt like this was an event designed for them and full of people like them. In short, I felt like one of the things they all told me without actually saying it, was that here was a place where they belonged.
I suppose the importance of wanting to belong shouldn’t surprise me, after all, I’ve been a high school teacher for a long time. It’s true, we mature to the point where the question of which lunch table we’ll be accepted at isn’t the most important question in our life, but I don’t think we ever grow out of the desire to belong somewhere, to fit in, to be accepted and welcomed.
I am glad that Realm Makers was that kind of place for those who attended it, and in that way, it was perhaps a picture of what the Church is meant to be but so often isn’t, as well as a foretaste of what life in glory will be. For there, if not here, those who have come by grace to kneel at the foot of the cross will find the belonging for which they have always longed.