The Vignette is a short sketch of a spiritual experience with an often surprising, always lasting, impact.
I was embarrassed, feeling like an incompetent fool, and simply disheartened. Damon Lynch III had just “poured his heart out,” as he said, to me for an hour and 15 minutes, telling me his story for this issue of The Sycamore. And there I was, sitting in the parking lot of his church, after we had met, hitting play on my digital recorder again and again. And this is what I heard over and over: seven seconds of paper rustling. Then silence. I could not believe it.
I had tested the Sony when we first sat down in a conference room outside his office. As he spoke, I kept my eye on the indicator, watching the bars bounce higher when his voice grew louder. All was working as normal. What happened? Had I accidentally erased his words when I placed the recorder in my purse? I did not know.
Near tears I went back in to the church and confessed to the receptionist what obviously was true: I had no recording.
“I can try to put together as much as I can from memory,” I said, “if Pastor Lynch wants me to try that.” The other option was to schedule another time to talk again.
“Let me see what he wants to do,” she said.
After she walked away, I turned around and there I saw scrolled across the wall,
“Be still and know that I am God.”
I tried to slow my breath and breathe more deeply.
“He said just do what you can.” I turned back to the front desk. The receptionist had returned. Noting the moisture in my eyes, she added, “Now it will be okay. Just pray to God.”
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I thought how ironic that I lost the good Reverend’s words for an issue built around the theme of loss. I drove back to my office in silence, playing in my head each bit of what he said that I could recall. I wanted to hold the words close until I was back in front of my computer. They were elegant. And honest. True. Humble. Hopeful.
Unlocking the door to my office, I recalled how I thought, when the editorial team and I came up with the theme for this issue, that all loss gives away to something more. I sat in front of my keyboard. It was all in God’s hands.