He had always been a favorite author of mine so when I opened the finely wrapped gift on Christmas morning, my hand rushed up to cover my mouth. How did I not know he had written a new book? How did the gift giver beat me to it? I could hardly wait to be alone, to dive into this new world, to watch his words come alive, to soar with his imagination. You see, it was a particularly difficult Christmas for me. I was newly divorced, back home with my parents, and honestly, I was sad. Sad that my life wasn’t at all like I hoped it would be. But … as I would soon find out, my imagination was exactly what my spirit needed. And a new read from a favorite author? Well, that part at least, was even better than I hoped.
I tucked my legs up under myself for so long, they ached. I laughed out loud. I filled my eyes with tears. And my body, well, I’m pretty sure it lost some of its heavy emotion. And all because of one man’s gift of imagination. Thank you, dear author, I said to his picture on the back cover when I was finished reading, thank you for bringing a smile to my sad heart. And universe, if you are listening, I’d like to thank him one day in person, to tell him what a gift he has been to me this Christmas.
And just like that, I got on with the rest of Christmas.
Until the phone rang.
It was a friend of mine. She wanted to meet me for lunch the next day. At a bookstore in an out-of-the-way-town. I agreed. And hung up with yet another smile.
The next day, in a town about forty minutes away, I was browsing through books, waiting for our name to be called for an open table. I was wandering, probably daydreaming, when I looked up and saw who I thought was the author I had just read the day before, the author who had transformed my Christmas. I blink-stared. And blinked some more. He doesn’t live here. It’s the day after Christmas. He’d never be here … would he? I went to the shelf where his books lived to double check what I was seeing, the face on the back cover with this face I was seeing in person. I crept around the corner, peering as discretely as I could. It was him. It was definitely him. My heart picked up its pace. I knew exactly what I had to do.
“Excuse me, but are you Nick Bantock?”
He turned to face me with a sly smile, “I am.”
I’m sure I swallowed a big gulp of air, “I thought so. Well, there’s something you need to know.” And I proceeded to tell him how he saved my Christmas, how his words brought wings to an otherwise heavy heart. I thanked him again and again and again.
And do you know what he told me?
That earlier that day he felt a strange urge to pull off the freeway, that amidst protests from everyone else in the car, he just knew he had to stop in at the out-of-the-way bookstore in the out-of-the-way town but he didn’t know why.
And then he said, that lately, the past few months anyway, he had been doubting his worth as an author, that he wondered if anyone ever read him anymore and if he should just stop writing all together. He looked at me, talked to me, his eyes begging for answers he just couldn’t find himself.
“No, no, no!” I said. “Please keep writing. I know I am not the only one who needs your imagination. If you buoyed me, a heavy-hearted new divorcee on Christmas, I can’t possibly be the only one.” I searched his eyes. Was I reaching him? So then I said, “You know something Mr. Nick Bantock in the out-of-the-way-bookstore on the day after Christmas? I’m a reminder from the universe to keep writing because what you do is magic. And we need magic in this world now maybe more than ever.”
And I swear to you, right then, his eyes caught fire.
As did mine. And maybe not just my eyes. No, I am sure my heart did, too.
* * *
Ask. Ask for your heart’s desires, for the feelings, the connections, the answers you need. But please don’t forget to expect those desires to be met. For you see, Nick Bantock isn’t the only magic one here. I happen to know that you are, too. You just need to believe it, for yourself, and especially this week, today … right now.