In preparation, we read a lot of material and did a lot of research. The most profound message we found came from a storybook. When we read it our hearts were touched, and we knew what our message needed to be.
The night of our presentation we had the women gather in front of a fireplace, in a cozy living room, in a home on Long Island, and we read them "The Velveteen Rabbit", by Margery Williams. Our focus remained on one paragraph:
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
To be completely honest, I'm not sure if we accomplished our goal: of inspiring and uplifting. But our hearts, mine and J's, were touched and we were changed. I've used this story many times since that night on Long Island, and although I'm never sure if others' hearts are touched, mine always is. And when life gets hard and I wonder if it's worth it, I remind myself that I'm becoming 'Real' and that's the whole purpose of this life.
Wonder why I'm telling you this? I have to talk in church on Sunday...to a group of men, women, and children...and I'm hoping that God will inspire me again. I'm hoping that He will give me a message that will inspire and uplift. I'll let you know.