When The Spirit Falls Fresh

The memory falls fresh on me: It was early afternoon. A total stranger walking next to me pulled a sterling silver ring out of her pocket, and handed it to me. It had my very own name carved on top.

I’ll start at the beginning. Note: I’d not been back to these linoleum floors of the old mall in decades, and here I was, to meet my friend for a poetry workshop–my writer mentor, Mary Lucille.


She greets me with her cheery smile and her book bag draped across her shoulder.

“Oh my word, Mary Lucille. I just realized this is the same mall where I bought my wedding outfit, over thirty years ago.” My husband and I have recently moved back to West Virginia, back to Morgantown, the place where we’d been college students, and bought our marriage license. The old mall used to be a retail shopping area, but not anymore.

The building still expands across one-floor, though some floors lower or rise with steps and ramps in a split-level. And the décor is virtually unchanged from its heyday in the 1970’s: skylights bring in tons of natural light to the main corridor. But the once-thriving shops have been replaced; it’s a mall with a purpose.

  • We walk past a corner gym: sweaty boxers spar in a bona fide boxing ring.
  • Every seat is taken in a spacious senior citizens’ center, where someone yells, “Bingo!”
  • A young child with special needs can be seen down a hallway by his instructor, showing him how to use the new wheelchair.

There’s a 24-hour gym, a medical supply company, a hair salon, and the continuing education classrooms where I’m headed with Mary Lucille.

With my favorite writing pen and thick notebook tucked inside my canvas bag, I need little inspiration these days. Week after week, I’m writing so many stories and poetry, the word pictures are pouring out of me like dandelion seeds in a natural breeze.

Today has finally arrived, and my new instructor–not new to Mary Lucille, who highly recommended her–is to be introduced: a Ms. Susan Sailer. I am determined to be challenged, to dive into new forms of poetry, to persuade the internal puzzle of my emotions to unfold. Despite the cliché, I feel the beginnings of a new chapter in this old building.

“Thank you for telling me about this workshop,” I tell Mary Lucille. We both enjoy a local writers’ group, sharing our writing with each other (and total strangers) and getting—and giving—feedback. But this, a bona fide in-depth workshop, is held at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, otherwise known as OLLI. The educational classes are given by a variety of leaders, and the workshops appeal to seniors and cover an eclectic mix of topics.  http://www.olliatwvu.org/

As we mosey along the spacious corridors, past a storefront that once housed an Italian restaurant, to the open doors of the OLLI office, we need to inquire about the workshop’s exact location.

A few people are milling about, but some of the classes have already begun. Just as we turn toward the class entryway, two other women appear, walking next to us. One of them introduces herself right away.

“Hi, I’m Sherry,” says the friendly face. “Are you here for continuing ed?”

“Yes,” Mary Lucille says. I nod and pause to introduce ourselves.

“Hi, I’m Sarah,” I said. “And this is Mary Lucille.”

“Your name is Sarah?” the stranger says, and stops in her tracks. “Wait.”

She reaches inside her jeans pocket and pulls out a small object. She smiles at me again. “My husband found this lying on the ground in a parking lot awhile back. When he brought it home, he gave it to me and said ‘if you ever run into someone named Sarah, give this to her.’”

I’m stunned when I look at the open hand holding a shiny, sterling silver ring. I take the ring and inspect it. Sure enough, carved across the narrow top are the letters S-A-R-A-H. I think I’m blushing.

“You’ve just been carrying this around?” I ask.

Smiling Sherry nods. I thank her, and she says, “I’m just glad I found you,” and walks off with her friend to another classroom.

“Can you believe that?” I say, showing the ring to Mary Lucille.

That might have been the end of it had I not experienced the best poetry workshop I could have ever have imagined.

Ms. Sailer’s excellent instruction sparks such inspiration, I compose a detailed poem about my long-lost, deceased brother John (with whom I had been very close), which wins a prize at the West Virginia Writers’ Conference annual contest that summer. The winning work becomes the foundation for my memoir about him, and I’m back to dandelion-seed phase. I’ve been composing poems and short stories ever since, many of which have become published works.

Was the ring a sign of the Spirit’s nudging? Was Sherry’s decision to walk down the same hallway a God-thing? Was the personal gift a foretelling of the many writing blessings that would follow? Her husband had said, “Give it to her” without knowing anything about me.

I wear the ring often and associate it with good things, especially the Holy Spirit’s timing. He knows me so well, it shouldn’t surprise me.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my thoughts from afar off.”
Psalm 139: 1-2

At times He leaves me with questions, but He’s the same One who puts power behind my words, and inspires me to keep writing. Patience is a part of the process for most writers and for most Christian writers like me, God’s incredible timing plays an integral part.

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Sarah Blizzard Robinson
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  1. Diane Karchner on June 5, 2017 at 8:42 AM

    Thanks, Sarah, for such an inspirational story of your writing journey. I especially liked this comment…’At times He leaves me with questions, but He’s the same One who puts power behind my words…’ If we just rely on his TIMING and his power, my oh my but what beauty could we create, rather than forcing what is not yet ours. Love.

    • Sarah B. Robinson on June 5, 2017 at 12:24 PM

      Thank you! Isn’t it a blessing to witness His presence, and these occasional “Aha!” moments? I’m so grateful to share my experiences with other writers–and with new readers–on this website, especially the times I know without a doubt, I’ve received His love.

  2. Diane Tarantini on June 5, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    I remember this story!!

    • Sarah B. Robinson on June 5, 2017 at 12:27 PM

      You may have even seen the ring. It makes me happy (and kind of surprised all over again) to see it on my hand. Thanks again for recommending me to Grace & Such.

  3. Jen on June 5, 2017 at 10:50 AM

    I love stories like this and, more specifically, when it’s recognized as a “God-incidence” and not a coincidence.

    • Sarah B. Robinson on June 5, 2017 at 12:39 PM

      Coincidences are such great moments to share. Just this past weekend I was on a long drive, under a gorgeous blue sky with little puffy clouds, on my way to Nashville. I heard a funny joke on the radio. It involved a genie who had granted a man (who rubbed the lamp) three wishes. I wanted to remember the joke so I could retell it, wanting to do the it justice (I sometimes have trouble with punch-lines.) Just as I’m picturing the man rubbing the side of the lamp, I look out my windshield, and what do I see in the clouds above? An elongated, triangular floating cloud in the shape of a genie’s lamp. It even has a curly-cue on the side, right where the lamp-handle would be.
      When we explore the wonderful impossibilities, when life intersects divine providence, it can be magical.

      • Jen on June 7, 2017 at 9:48 AM

        That’s amazing!

  4. Susan on June 6, 2017 at 4:47 PM

    Another beautiful story Sarah that puts us right in the moment with you. How sweet our God is to do such personal and special things for us! Thanks for sharing your heart and your gifts…

    • Sarah Robinson on June 9, 2017 at 5:51 AM

      Thank you, Susan.

  5. Cole on June 11, 2017 at 7:54 PM

    Syncronicity, again, Sarah! Love the playful ways the Lord can talk to His children ? Fantastic story.

    • Sarah Robinson on June 12, 2017 at 6:31 AM

      So glad it resonated with you!

  6. Gretchen Hanna on June 12, 2017 at 1:04 PM

    What a beautiful story, Sarah. Wow!!!
    Too often I put God in a box of what He can/can’t do, and how He works in and through us and others. Thank you for the apt reminder that His ways are not my ways, nor are my thoughts even close to being as high as His.

    • Sarah Robinson on June 12, 2017 at 2:09 PM

      Thank you, Gretchen. May our Lord continue to manifest His presence to us in protective, affirmative and demonstrative ways.

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