The First Step

Today is my graduate presentation and reading and I am writing this post in between them. I’ve made a lot of friends in Fairfield University’s MFA program and one of the perks of the residencies is catching up with people you haven’t seen in six months.  I just had a conversation with a friend of mine named Josh who is part of my graduating class. He is a brilliant writer and a brother in Christ. We were talking about graduation and he said that it will be a weird feeling on Monday; the sense that something has ended and something new is starting. I totally get it.

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I’ve had many first steps in life. They are moments you never forget.  I remember the first day of college, of marriage, taking Carter home as a baby and wondering what we do from here. It is a mix of excitement, fear, and expectancy. God takes us to first steps for a reason.  It can be a transition from a job, a home, a toxic relationship, and possibly a church. There is a sense of mystery with first steps.  We don’t know what is coming. We picture the end result but, in reality, it is a mystery. We believe that God’s hand is guiding our path and making it straight.

Tomorrow I’ll walk in the graduation. We’ll go home on Saturday and, as he said, Monday will be the first day that I haven’t been a student in a long time. I’m sad for the passing but thankful for the moments and memories. I’m still believing that good things are coming. There will still be hills to climb (I’m still waiting on my test results.) and time never stops.  We can only make the most of the minutes we have.

The fear is gradually fading away. The excitement is building. I hope that Carter and Aiden will be proud of me one day.  That’s my goal, that they will look up to me and that I can set a good example as a father. This is another First Step to get there.

~Matt

Thoughts On the Road

I’m writing this post from our hotel room in Mystic, Connecticut.  We survived the trip and found everything successfully.  This morning we drove up to Newport, Rhode Island and spent some time on the beach and walking Cliff Walk.  As we crossed the bridge, the sign to Newport mentions that it was founded in 1637. That blows my mind.  They just passed their 375th anniversary. I stood on the beach imagining people from a hundred years before the American Revolution, an entire generation living and dying while the place was still a British colony.

We all have connections to the past and, I believe, certain locations. I love the south.  I love Cajun food and my dream is to get to New Orleans for a vacation. I feel like a thread of my soul runs down south. I love worship music with a hint of the blues like this song below off of David Crowder’s new album:

I love the chorus:

“If you’re lost and wondering, come stumbling in like a prodigal child. Feel the walls start crumbling, let the gates of Glory open wide.”

Those words have stuck with me recently.  We all get off the path, wondering on our own accord.  We build our walls and the only way to break them down is through God’s grace and glory. These are points God is driving home into my head.  I’m getting more responses for Overcome, lining up more interviews and preparing my pen to capture the hearts of those fighting to make Reading a better city. Next week I’ll be visiting the Hope Rescue Mission and I’m excited for the chance to volunteer and learn more about what it does and who it serves on a daily basis.

Today I watched Carter and Aiden play on the beach and swim in the hotel pool.  They are getting so big so fast and I just want to grab the moments and never let them go. I want them to know they can always come home, no matter how lost they get. I want them to know it is important to serve and live with a giving heart. There are so many things I want to pass on and that is why I write, to open myself up in words that will hang around for them and future generations.  Maybe, 375 years after Overcome is released, some guy will check it out of a library (digitally of course) and marvel at our past.

So tomorrow morning I have my graduate presentation. Tomorrow night I have my reading, and Friday will be the day. I’m past worrying about the presentation or reading. This is go time, the time where you just move forward.  I’ll get up early tomorrow, throw on my shirt and tie, gather my materials, and drive out to the island. This is life with a sense of purpose, something I had missed for a long time and am blessed to find. The clouds are clearing. The walls are crumbling. The gates are opening and I’m excited to see what is to come.

~Matt

 

Graduation

Tomorrow morning we leave for Connecticut. I spent the last two years attending Fairfield University’s MFA program.  We meet twice a year in Mystic, Connecticut at St. Edmund’s Retreat on Enders Island for ten days. I’ve met some amazing people and had the chance to work with great writers and academics. The island is a world of difference between the summer and winter residencies. I’ve spent mornings at 15 and 75 degrees, seen the place swept in snow and sunlight. There is a mystical (fitting) beauty to the island and it provides moments of exquisite solitude. On Friday, I’ll graduate and tonight I’m thinking about the future.

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Graduation is a time for transition, whether it is kindergarten, high school, or college.  When I was a freshman, I went to my adviser and said I wanted to be a writer. He was about 107 years old and laughed over his rumpled suit and tie.  He said, “You probably won’t be successful, so you should consider an alternative.”  I knew, in that moment, I would write. It was a seed planted in my soul. I’m one of those people who don’t respond well to being told that I can’t do something.  One thing he did not know, or see, was my passion.

I finished my first novel roughly five years after that conversation.

Carter told Val today that, when he grows up, he “wants to be a writer like daddy and write about Jesus.” That is priceless.  That is the point of being a father. He doesn’t even need to end up writing. If he uses his passion to serve and live a satisfied life, I’ll be happy. Time goes so fast. Both of my boys get bigger each day. They are like living mirrors, reminders of the future that is to come.

Today I landed my first interview with a local business owner for Overcome (Rescuing the City of Reading). I am excited to talk with him and get rolling on this project.  I feel like so many forces have converged to this week and that good things are coming.  It is a mix of excitement, nerves, and happiness.  I am truly blessed and thankful.  Always remember, no matter what anyone says, never stop fighting. Never stop chasing your dreams. Never stop following your passion and serving others.  The trick is to be, like the shark, always moving.

On Friday we will celebrate on the island, laugh and trade stories. I’ll forget about stresses for a few hours and allow myself a moment of peace.

That is worth the cost of any degree and the launch for the next step of this journey.

~Matt