Blogger: Mary Keeley
When I sat down to write this week’s blog, it struck me that it will be posted on May 1. May Day. Every year without fail May Day reminds me of a mostly abandoned practice in my grandmother’s day: May baskets. Random acts of kindness among the Christian writing community are as much a balm of sweet-scented spring as those traditional gifts, with one advantage. They can be delivered any time of year.
No bulleted lists today, although I love bulleted lists. Each point distilled to a cut-to-the-chase statement or how-to step. But that approach isn’t appropriate for today. This is a gentle topic.
There is evidence the May Day celebration of spring dates back to Roman times as a festival to worship Flora, the goddess of flowers. When the Romans moved in to occupy the British Isles, the May Day festival was absorbed into British culture. Because of the pagan connection, the Puritans frowned on the practice, and the holiday morphed to a children’s celebration of spring, with dancing around the maypole and making May baskets to hang on neighbors’ doorknobs.
In the United States the tradition and purpose for May baskets that I learned as a Girl Scout was a further modified version perhaps, thankfully again, by Puritan influence. A kinder, gentler tradition. We hung our hand-made paper baskets filled with daffodils and forsythia, narcissus, and hyacinths on neighbors’ doorknobs, rang the doorbell, and ran away. We didn’t hang them on just any door. Our surprises were meant to bring cheer to those neighbors who were old and housebound, sick, grieving a lost loved one, or struggling in some other way. It’s in this context that I want to celebrate May Day in our writing community.
Let’s ponder the characteristics of such random acts of kindness. On a fairly regular basis, writers comment about the warmth among authors and their willingness to share knowledge with each other. That sweet scent saturates our community. Celebrate it today. Add a few hyacinths to your mental basket.
Have you been surprised by the time and care a critique partner, writer friend, agent or editor took to review your manuscript and offer constructive advice? Sometimes that gift is given in the form of unpleasant news, but is delivered with honesty because the giver cares about you and your career. If so, you are blessed. Celebrate it and move forward with a teachable attitude. Add several sprigs of forsythia to your mental basket.
Can you count the times an author friend has lifted your spirits when you receive yet another rejection? Or when you are struggling with your complex plot and he or she takes time to listen attentively and offer a suggestion? Remember how it cheered you up and renewed your energy? Celebrate it and add five perky daffodils and three narcissus blooms to your basket.
Your basket runneth over with samples of God’s beautiful creation. Now go and be a flower in someone else’s basket. Don’t confine your fragrant scent within the Christian community. Spread it everywhere you see there is a need for cheer.
Because they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Here are two ideas to get you started. Weave these characteristics into the pages of your book. Check. You’re doing this already. Donate copies of your new book to schools and churches in needy areas without expecting anything in return. Check. You’ve done that several times. Teach a free workshop to a local writers group and critique participants opening pages at no charge. Pass along the fragrant offering.
I hope you have a May Day kind of day, week, year, life.
When have you encouraged another writer and been surprised by the amount of cheer it gave? In what additional ways have you received a blessing? Do you have a May Day tradition in your home?
May Day is a reminder for Christian writers to celebrate community. Click to Tweet.
Celebrate May Day by encouraging another writer. Click to Tweet.
What traits do our celebration of May Day and the Christian writing community share? @marygkeeley Click to Tweet.