I'm Facebook friends with a guy I knew in high school who now works as academic dean at a college. He recently posted a video on his profile of a two-minute commercial the college made for recruitment purposes. As the star he interacts with students and faculty members, and articulates what he loves about his job. A lot of people had already commented, but when I left a complimentary remark, he immediately responded: "Jeanne, you're a celebrated author, but you'll always be a very special friend . . ."
The rapid chain reaction those words set off in my brain went something like this: "Celebrated author? Seriously? -- he's misinformed -- or maybe he's joking -- no he's too nice a guy to joke about that -- so maybe I should make a joke . . . something like, 'Wait? There was a celebration? Why wasn't I invited?' -- no, that's corny, and besides it will look like I'm fishing for more attention -- I'll just ignore it -- Celebrated author? Seriously? . . ."
And that's about when I felt it. You know what I'm talking about. It's like when you were a junior high kid and they handed out school portraits, and yours was even goofier than you feared it would be, and what were you thinking when you wore that vest?, and just as you were putting the final touches on the goatee and Groucho glasses, you felt it. The teacher was standing over your shoulder. Watching you.
That's what I felt. And then the Teacher asked me a question.
Ooo-oooo-ooo! I know this one! Let's see. Lots of people read and love their books, and everyone knows their names. They win awards and make it onto best sellers list. I mean, the closest I ever got to that was in April of '09, when I posted that now-infamous update on my website: "What a difference a few weeks makes! Since my last update, Parting the Waters has hit the NY Times Bestseller's List and been optioned for a major motion picture through Fox Studios! As if that weren't enough excitement, one of my Thailand photographs was purchased by National Geographic for their June cover, and I was contacted by Dancing with the Stars to be a contestant for their spring 2010 season. I should also mention that today is April Fool's Day." Ha ha. That was pretty funny . . . until friends and fellow writers got so excited by the news they quit reading before the end and started sending me congratulations. And then some of those "facts" were printed in my bio in hundreds of programs when I choreographed a high school musical, because I sent the director to my website for info. How was I to know she'd read a bogus update instead of my actual bio? I mean, um . . .
Can we get back to the original question now?
Okay, sure. Sorry about that. I suppose, when you get down to it, a celebrated author is an author who is celebrated.
In one sense, by anyone.
Ah. Perhaps your friend celebrates you?
Perhaps. But I have a feeling that's not really the point.
Good to know you're still teachable.
And the point is?
Well, I think I know what You'll say the point is, which of course, would make it THE point. We're talking about Zephaniah 3:17, aren't we?
We are. And what does Zephaniah 3:17 say?
You know it better than I do.
Indeed I do, but I want to hear you say it.
Okay, hold on. Looking it up . . . It says, "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing."
That sounds like celebration to Me. And guess what? It feels like it, too. If I celebrate you, what does that make you?
It makes me someone who loves You very much. Thanks for teaching me. And thanks for inviting me to Your party.
You're welcome. You can take off the Groucho glasses now.
But keep the vest.
Jeanne Damoff is a celebrated author, and she's looking forward to someday dancing with the actual stars. How 'bout you?