A Moment with Rowan Williams

If you had ever told me that I would have the opportunity to spend several hours in the company of the Most Revd Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, and current Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, I would have responded with an emphatic, “Impossible!” However, I can now see that impossible is not a word that is relevant in this extraordinary world. After chatting about politics, children, grandchildren, movies, books and writing, I can say with certainty that this highly-esteemed man is one of the kindest, most-present human beings I have ever met. I felt seen, heard and understood. Thank you, Dr. Williams, for living life with such an open and giving heart. The world needs your example and is better because of your presence.

***

I want to recount one moment that I shared with Dr. Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, and current Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Rowan asked me what kind of writing I did and I explained that I write short fiction, memoir pieces and essays and have publications in a few literary magazines. I told him too about my blog, with its readership comprised, at least in part, of the people who had grown up in my small Texas hometown.

I asked him about his writing process and he said that many of his books were transcriptions from his lectures. “Do you write everything out beforehand and then deliver a lecture?” I asked. “No,” he said, “I often find trying to get words on the page gets in the way of my thought process. I mostly prefer to speak from notes.” At that moment, he pulled out a little black notebook from his bag and opened it. There were his very neat, handwritten notes for any number of lectures he has given.  He then flipped the book to the back pages and said, “This is where I write my poetry.” Again, pages filled with poems, all handwritten.

In that moment, we were simply two writers discussing how, when and what we write, with the blank page as our connection.  Just two people talking about getting words on a page.

That’s a memory I’ll be revisiting for a good long time.

What a wonderful and surprising day.

I’ll be checking back in with you again tomorrow.

Ray, Rowan and Len

 

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