Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 8, 2005


Internet friends offer rewarding feedback to writing


          The Internet is an amazing communication tool. It puts me in touch with friends in many distant places, even other countries. Sometimes a person I have never met will respond to a piece I have written and a fast friendship develops.

          A column about dogs prompted Joe to invite me to come to High Point, North Carolina, and enjoy some barbeque with him and his wife. He told me about a trip they had made recently to Kenya where the Methodists have a strong influence.

          In the Maua area, the Methodists built a hospital that now serves as a regional medical center. They have established many orphanages, schools, and farms. On the farms they teach people how to grow crops. Joe said his church is “drilling a borehole that will service over one thousand families as well as provide water for the demonstration farm.” They also plan to build a small clinic that will be staffed by a nurse from the Methodist hospital.

          Joe is justifiably proud of his church. It thrills me to hear about a church that is reaching out to the poor, especially in Africa. Evidently Joe’s church is practicing what the preacher preaches.

          Bruce lives in Wisconsin where it is too cold for an Alabama boy to live. He gave up Florida for all that snow and ice. My column about Ray Stevens’ squirrel story stirred Bruce to tell me he has a video of Ray Stevens performing it. Bruce reminded me of the comedian Grady Nutt who had some hilarious church stories. Grady died too young, before I got to hear him in person, but I did hear some of his stories on tape.

          My baseball column evoked another Grady’s memories of watching his grandson Jason play baseball. Grady recalled that he and his wife, Celestra, went to Jason’s games for 10 to 12 years until he finished high school.

          “Those were really great years. When Jason first started as a little guy he played left field and we watched from that side of the field so we could be close to him. In the playoffs we would go out of town to watch him. I guess if he had played for Auburn we would have been there too. Going to those games bonded us to a wonderful grandson.”

          Grady poked fun at me by pointing out that they “were young enough at the time to stay until the end of the game.”

          In a recent piece I made reference to the missionary, Albert Schweitzer. That prompted a dear friend to share with me that last year he traveled to Gabon, Equitorial Africa and made a trek to Lamberene. There he visited the Schweitzer Hospital and Memorial where the famous doctor spent his life. My friend shared:

          “I visited the actual room, clinic, operating room where he treated so many, and meditated over the grave and the museum dedicated to him, his wife, and their incredible team of associates – all buried side by side. You could still feel their presence in this place.”

          He went on to share this stirring reflection: “As I stood over Schweitzer’s mosquito netted bed where he slept, his desk where he worked, his grave where he rested – just outside his bedroom window by the river bank – I was reminded that life/death, commitment/hardship, paradise/persecution, and condemnation/rewards sometimes all blur together when we are called to the Great Commission, but we know if we faint not we shall surely see Glory at the last!”

          I will never visit Lamberene in person but my friend has allowed me to “see” Schweitzer’s famous clinic as I had never seen it before. He shared with me a snapshot from his heart.

          I write a lot and I am human enough to enjoy affirmation when my readers extend it. However, what stirs me most is for my writing to evoke insightful, heartfelt responses from my readers. That surely is one of the most satisfying rewards a writer can receive.  It fuels the hope that writing can help people become soul brothers on this journey called life. + + + +