Yes, in my own little something-short-of-a-large-fish-but-a-little-more-than-a-small-fish-in-a-very-small-pond way, I’m famous. Let me define my pond.
I live in Rains County, Texas with a population of around 12,000. To further narrow the field, I live just outside the town of Emory, population approximately 1,200. Our local newspaper, the Rains County Leader, has a weekly circulation of around 2,600. The Leader has a religion page where local churches can post ads and columns.
When David and I joined a church here, I noticed they had a weekly ad but no column. Seeing a place where I might be of help, I volunteered to become the church journalist. Every Sunday night I write an account of the past week’s happenings along with coming activities and opportunities for service. The church columns must be 300 words or less, cite no more than one scripture, and sermon topics are allowed but nothing that could be construed as preaching. The guidelines are strict, and the editor has a heavy hand with the red pencil. This is my small pond.
This morning David and I met with 50 or so other people at a local church to pack and deliver Thanksgiving food boxes. There was coffee and donuts for the volunteers which put a big smile on David’s face, and there was an atmosphere of organized chaos that lent an air of holiday cheer and put a smile on the rest of the faces. After all the boxes were filled and staged, those of us who were delivering boxes lined up to get our assignments.
David and I got our names and our boxes, and I plugged the address into the GPS. Both our names went to the same address, and it was on one of the main throughways. We found it easily and pulled into a dirt driveway leading up to a small, neat house with white siding and green trim.
“Let’s knock on the door before we get the boxes out,” I said, “just in case no one is home.”
I rang the doorbell, and the door opened almost immediately. A small, older woman greeted me with an expectant smile as she opened the storm door. She had on a nice pantsuit accessorized by a small white emergency alert pendant around her neck.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m Linda Brendle and I’m looking for Ms. S and Ms. G. We have a Thanksgiving delivery.”
“I’m Ms. S,” she said. “Ms. G. works for me. She doesn’t have a stove, so I told her she could cook her turkey over here.”
“Great! We’ll go get the boxes.”
As I turned toward the car, she stopped me. “Who did you say you are?”
“I’m Linda Brendle.”
“Are you the one that writes the church column?”
“Yes, I am.”
“It’s nice to meet you and to put a face with the name.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too,” I said. And it’s nice to know that someone is reading my column, I thought.
We carried the boxes through her spotless little home and put them on top of the washer as she directed.
“There’s a turkey and a ham for each of you,” I said. “The other things will be fine, but the meat needs to be refrigerated. Do you need some help with it?”
“No, I can handle it. It’s so nice for you to do this. I don’t get to go to church or anything else much anymore.”
“Is it because you don’t drive or because of your health,” I said, thinking that we might help if she needed a ride.
“No,” she said. “I have a severe spinal injury that makes sitting for long in one place impossible. I also have other health problems that keep me at home.” We chatted for a few more minutes and then said our good-byes.
“Before I go,” I said, “may I give you a hug?”
“Sure,” she said. “Everybody needs as many hugs as they can get.”
I gently embraced her, grateful to have spent a few minutes with her and hoping I had brightened her day as much as she had brightened mine. As I walked back to the car, I thought Yes, everybody needs hugs, even famous writers. Maybe I need to start carrying a pen in case my fans ask for autographs.