The Threads of Life

This week I had the privilege of listening to and lunching with Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack.  He was visiting where I work with his publisher, because we sell his books.  The Shack was on the #1 paperback on the New York Times bestseller list from June 2008 until early 2010.  I haven't read The Shack.  It was one of those books I've meant to read.  Mr. Young had many stories to tell us and I'd like to share one with you.

Paul Young wrote The Shack at the urging of his wife for their six children as a Christmas gift.  At the time, the family has lost the house they owned for 17 years and were living in a small rental house in Gresham, Oregon.  The first fifteen copies, which were given to his children and a few close friends, were copied and spiral bound at Office Depot.  The book circulated as it was loaned to others, and many who read it thought it should be published.  The Shack was rejected by 26 publishers.  Paul and some friends decided to publish it themselves in 2006.  They set up a simple website for sales and shipped out the orders at night from a garage.   The book became more successful and was translated and published in over 30 countries. 

While visiting with his German publisher, the publisher suggested a documentary to be made about the writing of the book.  He had a person in mind to make the documentary, but needed a videographer.  Paul had a very good friend who was a videographer and put him in touch with Susanna, who would be making the documentary.   Through a series of scheduling conflicts, it was determined that Paul's friend could not do the video, but he recommended a second videographer to Susanna.   This did not work out either, and a third introduction was made to Kevin, a videographer in Oregon, but someone not known by Paul.

One of the places Susanna wanted to shoot was the small rental house.  Arrangements were made with the current occupants and Kevin and Susanna agreed to meet Paul and his wife there.  When Kevin arrived at the house, he recognized it right away.  Several years earlier he had been moved a Christmas time to make a gift to a poor family.  He didn't know anyone personally, but a co-worker suggested a family with six children, living in a small rental house in Gresham, Oregon.  He placed a envelope containing $100 under the front door of that house.

That $100 paid for the first printing of the spiral bound copies of The Shack, printed at Office Depot and given as Christmas gifts.  There are no coincidences.  Paul Young said that he hopes to spend eternity untangling the threads that have made up our lives. 

Mr. Young is not only a gifted writer and speaker, but is an extraordinary generous and kind individual.  It's my understanding that in the next week or two he'll be speaking to a gathering of Catholic funeral directors.  If you have an opportunity to hear him, please take advantage.  You won't regret it.

 

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