STORY 2012 : Returning.

I always think that I know why something is important before I do it. I thought STORY 2012 was an important conference to attend because I wanted to hear speakers I respect, like Anne Lamott or Bob Goff or Rachel Held Evans. I thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with my Prodigal family and the bloggers and writers whom I’ve come to regard as friends, kindred spirits. I went thinking that if I could just put myself in a room with other more successful creatives, then my dry well of words would be filled with advice and insight that would fix my dreams, teach me how to create better.

All these things took place this weekend and touched me deeply, yes.

But after the last session ended, after the last remnants of tapas at dinner were shared on Friday night, after I hugged everyone goodbye and after I dropped Lore off at O’Hare early yesterday morning, sunrise bursting across the sweep of Chicago skyline behind me, I realized :

My reasons for going to STORY 2012 were not the only reasons God brought me there.

Tomorrow I will share more about what I took away from the STORY experience, but for today, I will say : I took away so many quotes and ideas and I solidified friendships. I left with that rare and oft longed for stirring in my heart that the people I had communed with not only understood who I am, but why I am, and what I was created for. But I also came away from it with the reminder and the challenge that my work is of more importance than mere ambition. My creativity must begin as an act of worship, as an outpouring of my relationship to my Creator and my relationships with the people around me. I have forgotten that, and maybe that is why I needed to be there, to find my way back to the Source of my creativity.

Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” – Elizabeth Barret Browning

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  • http://www.tonyjalicea.com Tony J. Alicea

    Amen and amen. I look forward to reading more tomorrow.

  • http://twitter.com/Drebelle Andrea Beltran

    I’m happy to hear this, Bethany. I look forward to hearing more about this recent journey.

  • http://www.stuffaudreysays.com/ Audrey the Turtle

    This is awesome. I really want to go to the next STORY conference!

  • http://twitter.com/emmillerwrites Emily Miller

    Amen and amen! I thought I was going to STORY to spend time with you in person and meet Bob Goff and bask in the glow of Rachel Held Evans and Anne Lamott, which is why, after Day 1, I was thinking, “What more could there possibly be tomorrow?” And then every word and interaction on Day 2 was an aha! moment: “Nope, THAT’s what I came here to hear.”

    God is so awesome and so full of surprises. :)

  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel


    I left with that rare and oft longed for stirring in my heart that the people I had communed with not only understood who I am, but why I am, and what I was created for. ” I still can’t put anything into words yet, but this is what I’m feeling. The time was such a gift. I didn’t even go to church on Sunday because I felt like I would be desecrating the holy worship time I’d had for 3 days.

  • Laura Mills

    This is a beautiful post. I’ve been lucky enough have this sort of kindred spirit experience a couple of times, once at the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio (2 week summer program for young writers) and once at the Texas Book Festival. Can’t wait to hear more about your experience!