The Rapidian

Poet/writer Ann Voskamp plants a purposeful life

Writer Ann Voskamp, presenter at last week's Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, shares her thoughts on slowing down, embracing life and growing gratitude.
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/© laura cebulski

/© laura cebulski

Wife of a farmer, mother of six children and teacher of homeschoolers: this litany of responsibilities seems uncontainable to the limitations of a 24-hour day. Add to this the role of a writer, one whose book held steady on the New York Times’ bestseller list for 33 weeks, and you’ve met Ann Voskamp, author of “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.” Voskamp embraces all of these roles with a spirit of humility and gratitude.

Voskamp, an inspirational writer/poet, joined the voices of over 60 presenters and 2000 participants at this year’s Festival of Faith and Writing, a biennial event hosted by Calvin College that is dedicated to celebration and conversation surrounding issues of faith, justice, community and the process of writing.

Voskamp gave attendees some advice on living life to the fullest: do one thing every day that terrifies you. “Today I’m getting mine out of the way early,” she confessed as she took the stage Saturday morning. The crowd joined with her in laughter.

Voskamp moved from presentation to lunch forum to book reading to question-and-answer session to book signing during her time at the Festival of Faith and Writing. A common question arose during her time interacting with attendees. How does she do it? How does she meet the many demands on her life and her time?

The answer may be surprising.

She slows down.

“We tend to blur all of our moments into one unholy smear,” Voskamp explains. In our culture bent on moving ever faster, Voskamp says, she encourages the opposite. “We need intentional slowness, not rushing…we need to take time to observe.”

Voskamp’s philosophy on slowness is evident in the purposeful rhythm of her life. Her practice of homeschooling is centered on two hours of daily reading with her children; her practice of writing on taking advantage of the “fringe hours” of early morning and late evening to dedicate to her craft and maintain her prolific blog.  Rich details infuse her photographs and writing alike and remind us all to awaken to the gift of living, to recognize beauty and to give thanks.

“Writing forces me to be slow,” she says. “I hope readers too will attend to the details.”

As Voskamp was preparing to go to the conference, her husband had just finished planting 150 acres of corn. “I’m done planting,” he said as he sent her off to her speaking engagements. “Now it’s your turn to go plant.”

Voskamp illustrates her message daily: the seeds of intentional living may unfurl slowly, but they are the are the only ones worth cultivating.

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