Friday, December 7, 2018

Devotion: Musings from a Dot in the Atlantic Ocean

by Sherma Webbe Clarke | @sdwc8181 

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
3 John 2 (NKJV)

Inspiration and Habits 

Some writers stick to a fixed schedule. First thing in the morning before the birds and children are moving around. Two o’clock at the same cafĂ© every other afternoon. Ten o'clock to midnight every evening. Others write when inspiration prompts them, hastily recording their thoughts onto napkins, scraps of paper, or into electronic devices.

One famous writer visited Bermuda many times and considered the Island vital to his health and creativity. Between 1867 and 1910, Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) frequented the Island as an escape from his routine life in favor of the natural beauty and slower pace that he enjoyed during his residences here. His famous quote, “You can go to heaven if you want to; I’d rather stay in Bermuda,” floats around the Island like a longtail (white-tailed tropicbird) soaring over the ocean. I liked the idea of a connection between the Island and this revered literary figure, but the statement never settled well with me. As beautiful as Bermuda is, it can't compare to God’s heavenly paradise.

Digging into the context of the quotation, however, I discovered that Mark Twain’s intention is opposite to the message that is conveyed as popular understanding. Or misunderstanding. Whether convalescing at one of the local hotels or enjoying the eerie beauty of the Crystal Caves, Mr. Twain experienced a revival in his health after the doctors had pronounced their grim prognoses. As a man defying his ailments and infirmities, he declared to those who seemed poised to make funeral arrangements, “You can go to heaven if you want to; I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” In other words, “Don’t write me off yet; I’m not going anywhere.”

In one particular way, he was right about staying in Bermuda. Bronze statues of Mark Twain dot the Island, giving him a permanent presence, albeit in an immobile form. I recently worked in an office building that boasted a statue of the author at its entrance. His bronze likeness also sits on a bench at the hotel he frequented in the City of Hamilton.

What inspires you? 

As writers, we receive inspiration from many sources, and we pour these experiences into words, sentences, novels, a series. What inspires you? Is it a long, scenic walk? Camping by a lake? Or playing with your grandchildren? Jesus connected with people through stories crafted from situations in ordinary life. Seeds and sowers. A woman sweeping. Lost coins. Vineyards and grapes. A traveler who helps an unfortunate man without expecting a reward.

Some of us may not be as prolific as Mark Twain. And having multiple statues built in our honor? Probably a long shot. Maybe we have one book in us. One book that will fulfill our purpose. One book that will touch the heart of someone who will experience God’s love and grace through our story. As the words of a favorite hymn say, You may have this whole world; give me Jesus.

Let's chat: Where do you live? Has any particular place, close to home or far away, inspired you on your writing journey? I'd love to hear about it!

About Sherma . . . 

Sherma is a contemporary fiction writer, amateur photographer, reading enthusiast, and wife who often takes her husband by the hand to explore nearby and far-flung areas of the globe. This wanderlust has its perks. She credits many of her story ideas to these adventures, which provide great opportunities for research for short stories and the novel series she is currently working on. Quiet, early-morning walks along the railroad trails on her home island of Bermuda provide inspiration when she is homebound.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post. I particularly like the fact that you cleared up a misunderstanding. Thank you. As humans we do have a habit of interpreting life the way we want, but I value the truth. And the original story of Twain's quote is far more interesting than the myth. --About inspiration, I love reading stories about real people in history who overcame. Then I create a fiction story around a person like that. Usually the best stories are those that are not well known. A letter to the editor, an obituary, or an obscure blog often contain gems for story ideas. Thanks again.