This story is dedicated to all those souls who were taken from us too early through injustice, hate and violence. This is also dedicated to those who’s hearts and notebooks are filled with the silent echoes from the past. May these words grant us a minute of reprieve.
When I was born God gave me a pen. He said it had special ink. When I was old enough, the world gave me a notepad and then told me it was time to use the pen; however God gave me no instructions. So I started writing, and the pen worked. But not long enough. The ink would fade by the next day. I wrote about many things. about love. about fear. about the future. But my notepad was always blank by the morning. So I put it away.
I saw the name of a soul who was taken too early. It hurt to see this happen, so I decided to try the pen again. It bled this time, and I awoke the next day to find that my notebook was now real. Weeks later another name found it’s way into my book, then another. At first, these names were so important, because they were so few and the white space was so great. However, more and more began to appear, faster too. So quick that my hand began to hurt and the notebook started filling up. On occasion, I had to write many names at once and my fingers would go numb. Eventually I had a list of names that never disappeared.
All I knew was this list, and I carried it everywhere. to class. to church. even into my dreams. Some nights I would start reading the names, but the sun would rise before I finished. The more names that were added, the harder it was to keep writing. And names were always being added. But I still held tight to it, because God had given it to me for a reason…right? Except, He never told me it, and each time I wrote a new name I would feel less happy about writing.
One day, I was forced to write the name of someone who should never have been in my book. I broke my pen. The pieces scattered, shards of glass now jagged and distorted like plucked angel feathers. Immediately, the names disappeared and I was left with blank sheets in my notebook. I was relieved, at first, because I could stop writing and rest. But like we humans always do, I began to miss the pen. I was scared that I would forget the names that I had taken such care to write and I wouldn’t be able to tell others about the lost souls without my list. And these names needed to be known.
So I prayed and asked God to give me the pen back. In the morning He told me, “You don’t need that pen anymore. You can continue to write the names because the ink comes from your heart. Use it to write, to tell the stories of those who can no longer share their own. Everybody was born with that pen, but few are willing to write the names of the dead. They don’t want to write about it, but you did. These names will never be forgotten so long as you have ink in your heart. So keep writing.”
Last night I had to add another name…Michael Moore. As I wrote his name, I thought to myself how easily it could be for someone else to write my name in their book.