September 11, 2015

Strange Creatures, a Tollbooth, a Rabbi and a Lion by Connie Inglis

My creative journey started with my attraction to strange creatures--the fantastical. I have no recollection of when that attraction began, but I do think Dr. Seuss fed that creative spirit in me. I guess I always thought that everyone's imaginations ran wild when reading about a zizzer-zazzer-zuzz and a fiffer-feffer-feff. Mine certainly did and it led me to my first writing at 10 years old about a little martian that lived with strange creatures on Mars, complete with illustrations.

Without encouragement, however, I forgot my writing until grade 7. That's when my English teacher realized my interests and suggested I read, The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster.  I LOVED this book. It re-lit the joy of reading in me, reminding me that writers still write fairy tales and other-world adventures for young adults and adults. This teacher also loosed the poet in me and affirmed my first real poetry writings. I thank that teacher for spurring me on.

Teacher inspiration continued in high school as my eyes were opened to Shakespeare, Tennyson, Browning. So I learned to appreciate not just innovative prose but deep, spiritual poetry as well. One of my favourites was a poem by Robert Browning called, "Rabbi Ben Ezra," my favourite stanza being the following:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!''

What encouraged me was to see the religious themes of these authors and the central role God played in their writings. I was insecure in my writing but these writers made me just a little bit bolder in writing about my faith.

Then a friend introduced me to The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. Until that time I was not familiar with Christian allegory, but after that I could not get enough: Calvin Miller's trilogy, J. R. R. Tolkien's works, G. K. Chesterton's works, Lewis' Science Fiction trilogy. From there I became more aware of Christian themes and Biblical references and would look for them as I read. I found them everywhere--in Dostoevsky, in Steinbeck, in Goethe, in Emily Dickinson, even in T. S. Eliot.

What I was struck with in all this literature is the prevalence of God. He desires to break through to a hurting world in bold ways and in subdued ways and He does it in mysterious ways. I realized that He can use me too, if I am willing to listen to His still, small voice.

I look back on my life and see not just one person but many people, not just one author but many authors, who influenced my writing direction. It humbles me because it reminds me that God cares about me and is alive and active in my little life. And it spurs me on to write words of hope and grace and goodness, sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes in subtle ways, but always for His glory.

Photo by Tammy Derksen Carlson


  1. Connie, the lines by Emily Dickinson are some of my favourite all time lines of verse. They suit your photograph perfectly. I love how your creative journey started with Dr. Seuss. Another favourite of mine too.

    1. Thanks Joy. There's so many poems of Dickinson's that I like but I agree, I think these are my favourite too. And HURRAY for Dr. Seuss!

  2. Beautiful post! Yes, God is in it all and will show up in our own writing, too. I find comfort in that.

    1. Yes, there is definite comfort in that. Thanks Marnie.

  3. What a profound post, Connie. All of what you say resonates with me, Your last two paragraphs, however, lift right of fthe page for me. You are writing about how God is prevalent in much of literature. "God) desires to break through to a hurting world . . . in mysterious ways. I realized that he can use me too, if I am willing to listen . . . " I don't need to repeat you word for word, but this is beautifully written, true, and powerful. Thanks, Connie.

  4. Thank you Sharon for your encouraging words. I am sometimes (often actually) overwhelmed over the fact that He can use little me. Don't you just love it when you are reading something that isn't necessarily "Christian" and then God jumps out of the page speaking His words of love and hope? He is fully of surprises--one of the reasons I love Him so much!


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