What if your main character did not have a face but had them all? When I wrote The Five-dollar Miracle I took a risk, and unusual approach – I did not describe the main character physically, instead, I described every character in the story, except Pastor Neil Beckham. However, I had a clear purpose for doing this. I wanted the main character to appeal to every reader, this due to the nature of the story. To be able to get away with a faceless main character, I made sure to focus on the character’s personality, psyche, emotions, and personal history. In this way, the physical attributes took a secondary place and were able to disappear, blend with the story, thus becoming less important. By describing every other character, their stories became alive as well, however, always strongly linked to the main character. Every other character in the story became a support for this faceless main character. In this way, the reader could imagine him in his own way, and tailor him to his/her own reading experience, but mostly because The Five-dollar Miracle is an inspirational story. Because of the nature of the story, I was able to get away with it, however, this approach would not have worked for any other of my novels. Three readers who enjoyed the story very much, did not even realized that there was no description, and each person imagined him in a very different way. I took a risk taking that route, however, in order to do that, the rest of the characters became an important part on this decision, So far, it seems to have worked out.
With everything that is going on these days, pandemic news, and all, sometimes one has to look elsewhere and see. This is one of my favorite psalms, and I find it beautiful, so I decided to share its beauty here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do because it is truly lovely and sweet.
Psalm 148 (All creation summoned to praise)
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
give praise in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels;
give praise all you hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
give praise all shining stars.
Praise him, highest heavens,
you waters above the heavens.
Let them all praise the Lord’s name;
for the Lord commanded and they were created,
Assigned them duties forever,
gave them tasks that will never change.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deep waters;
You lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
storm winds that fulfill his command;
You mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars;
You animals wild and tame,
you creatures that crawl and fly;
You kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all who govern on earth;
Young men and women too,
old and young alike.
Let them all praise the Lord’s name,
for his name alone is exalted,
majestic above earth and heaven.
The Lord has lifted high the horn of his people;
to the glory of all the faithful,
of Israel, the people near to their God.
A common thread in my novels is the theme of good vs. evil/the divine/angels/devil. This topic has fascinated me since I can remember. I don’t know if it has to do with my Catholic upbringing by a very strict grandmother or not, but the curiosity about this topic has always been present. I have regretted not studying theology instead; I think it would have been more purposeful. Aside from my Christian faith, I’ve asked myself, why this interest? Other than it responds to human nature – the search for a being bigger than ourselves, and by default the archenemy, the yin and yang/positive and negative, or the dichotomy of the natural world, I don’t have a straight answer.
At this point, I can comfortably write in this way, and I assume future works will continue to reflect this interest. It permeates heavily through Moonlit Valley, The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy, and in a different way in The Five-dollar Miracle. I have been open to know myself a bit more as a writer, and I don’t see myself writing without this underlying theme. I enjoy reading a variety of genres, which is why this question arises. I’ve heard this advice over and over – Find your niche. I guess I’ve found mine.
Among all the chaos during these challenging times, beauty remains untouched, nature prevails in its own way as it has always been since the beginning of time. When we are feeling sad, scared, hopeless, and searching for a silver lining, God blesses us in many ways, even when we cannot see it right away or understand it.
I have been taking pictures of birds from time to time, and many times, I have shared a few on this blog. Birds are beautiful. I took a few pictures the other day, and these were taken from the inside of my home and through window glass, so they are not perfect. However, looking at them I saw something I had not seen before. I looked at those bird’s faces and expressions, and there I saw a miracle, I saw beauty, but more than that, I saw innocence, purity, hope; I saw the love of God. Here, I share a few with you.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. (Mathew 6:26)
I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine. (Psalm 50:11)
Every soul has its journey, every person a purpose for living, but sometimes, it is not as clear as we would like it to be. The following words are according to my journey.
For many years, I worried about not knowing my true purpose in life. I read and studied countless books on finding your purpose or “true purpose,” and became a “positive thinking book junkie.” Although it helped me very much and I enjoyed reading those, it left me feeling the same – yearning to know and find my purpose in life. I worked/trained for every interest I had as far as jobs/careers, and although I enjoyed those very much, I felt that was not it. I was far from my purpose. Agonizing about it did not help. I admired the people who seemed to have found their meaning of life, their way in life. When I heard people say, “If you love what you do it never feels like a job,” I became more confused about purpose. Well, I had fulfilled many interests that I loved, however, I still ended up feeling without purpose and hungry for meaning. A very smart woman who had been a teacher all her life and was now retired told me once, “I hope you find what you are looking for.” She said this after I told her that I could not see myself doing only one thing for the rest of my life. What a sharp woman; she saw what I did not at that time. Part of my misunderstanding was to believe that a career path/earning income and purpose were one and the same. These are two different things, and although one can find purpose through a career, a career does not have to be one’s purpose. Once I understood that, I viewed purpose in a different light.
Writing has always been in my heart, although put aside for a long time, as a career path that is. I found the path again after a series of unfortunate events, and because I felt I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try. I feel at home when I write. Is it my purpose? I don’t know, nor am I waiting for it to become. It gives me purpose. Only God knows what my purpose is; He created me. Once I realized this, I stopped worrying about finding my purpose. It did not make sense anymore. I don’t have to feel incomplete, hurried, or worried about time running out and not finding my way in life. Instead I say, “God, your way is my way.” By knowing this I am open to do, be, and exist just as He wants of me. His way is my way, and that is purpose enough for me. The search was over once I understood that.
I see and hear many people who are worried and stressed out about finding their true purpose in life. They fear that they will grow old not knowing. I understand how they feel; I’ve been there. It is the reason why I decided to write this post. When I understood it wasn’t my burden to know, I was able to see beyond the limits of material and earthly fulfillment. A Jon Bon Jovi song comes to mind – “you are where you are supposed to be” – or something along those lines. My journey is/has purpose, but my purpose is in part my journey on this earth, and it is much more. It is how I have come to understand its meaning. It doesn’t mean that I will sit around waiting for enlightenment and clarity of mind; for me, the process is the journey, and the journey, the pathway to a different kind of purpose. My aimless search for purpose took me to the understanding that my Creator’s way is my pathway to complete fulfillment. When I become restless or unclear for whatever reason it may be, the most sincere prayer I can say is – Your way is my way.
I believe that what we call coincidences are tiny miracles that intertwine in this life. Every writer, at one point, questions his/her path and the issue of why keep on writing, or what difference does it make? I’ve have asked that question; I asked that question to God. A few weeks ago I got my answer in the most unusual way.
A few weeks ago, something happened that changed my perspective as far as my writing goes. During that time, I had received a shipment of copies of my latest book – The Five-dollar Miracle, and the next day, I gifted the first copy. It was an impromptu offering. I was talking to that person and the books where next to me. A few days later, I had a casual conversation with that person and she mentioned the many similarities she encountered reading the story. She told me the book spoke to her, and many things she had taken to heart. She was going through many of the challenges the story presented, and so was her church. The pastor had died three months ago, and the congregation faced new challenges as well. What caught her eye and made her read further on was the first paragraph. She asked me how I came up with that date. I found the question unusual, and I told her it was a random date with no significance to me – the day I sat to write the story. For her, it was the day her husband died. I did not know her during that time. She mentioned that she was starting the five-dollar miracle.
Later on, I pondered all the events that had lead to that conversation and weaved my tiny miracle. By then, I had put my question to God out of mind. Only when I pondered these things I realized that my question had been answered. I don’t know if she will find something more in this story, but as far as I know the writing of it mattered, at least for her. As soon as I understood this, I thanked God for his love. I had a new perspective on writing.
As writers, we never know for whom we are writing the stories we create, but sometimes, we are blessed to have a glimpse. As far as I am concerned, The Five-dollar Miracle fulfilled its purpose, and I was able to find a new perspective in writing. If you have asked yourself the same question I asked, I hope this post helps you in some way.
“My name is Jonathan. My official name is Zadquiel. I prefer Jonathan. The story that I am about to tell you happened in Jasper Falls, a small town in the north of Virginia, USA. It was a small miracle, a five-dollar miracle that changed a stranger, a pastor, an entire congregation, and a whole country. I will take you to that day – July 29, 2016.” (excerpt from The Five-dollar Miracle)