Local News Archive
Print Issue: December 10, 1998
Fine Arts Have Advocate In Children's Tale
BY RITA McINERNEY
CONYERS--Brenda Raudenbushs experience working with young people has led her to write an engaging Christmas tale about fire ants.
She develops her story of forgiveness, Brilly and the Boot, around a colony of creatures most people go out of their way to avoid, and their foe, a frustrated gardener.
Raudenbush is the pen name of Brenda Griffin. As a member of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Atlanta during the years the Franciscans held the parish, she was part of the small group that began St. Francis Table on April 10, 1982. The Saturday meal for the poor and homeless continues to be a major outreach of the first Catholic church in Atlanta.
Her idea for the book, she says, came from two sources, a painful experience of being stung by fire ants and my work with children. When I was stung I wondered Ow, who can love such a creature? I got a fast answer. God can. He gave fire ants their place in creation along with the rest of us and found them good.
On a front page of the book the author quotes from the sixth chapter of Proverbs: Go to the ant...ponder her ways and grow wise.
She also acknowledges the support of her teacher, Andrea Parnell, president of the Rockdale Writers Group and teacher of writing at Clayton Junior College and University at Rockdale Center, and fellow members of the writers group. Her Brilly manuscript received an honorable mention in the juvenile fiction category from the Southeastern Writers Association.
Raudenbush hopes the book will appeal to middle school students and young adults. She calls it a timeless story that can be read to younger children.
She worked from 1987-90 with young people as an outreach coordinator in campus ministry at St. Pius X High School and was a chaplain in the pastoral care department at St. Josephs Hospital in 1990-91.
Many of the children who came to talk with her, she recalls as children of promise, intellectually and economically gifted and rich in family.
But many were suffering from spiritual poverty despite their gifts. They had what you might call fire ant nature,--organized and industrious with good community loyalty but also defensive, aggressive or lacking in good boundaries. Gods love lay hidden so deep in their hearts it seemed unreachable under their tough guy shell...In Brilly and the Boot I tried to invent a modern parable to gently break open the heart to the Gospel message of love.
Brilly is appealingly illustrated throughout the 97 pages by Holly Meyers, a graphic artist who lives in Conyers.
In 1991, Raudenbush was a long-term guest at Mississippi Abbey, a Cistercian monastery in Dubuque, Iowa. The experience, she says, changed her life. Shortly thereafter, she began to work as a cook and housekeeper at the guest house of the Cistercian Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Rockdale County.
I did the dishes right alongside ranking senior monks and felt honored. I needed so much help with my arrogance. She worked in the guest house until 1995.
In making the transition from Franciscan to Cistercian spirituality she focused her prayer life on looking for the presence of God and the love of God in silence and solitude.
She was one of five oblates who said their public promises at a Mass celebrated by Dom Armand Veilleux, OCSO, on March 25, 1990. The group is known as Associate Oblates of Our Lady of the Most Holy Spirit, the full title of the Conyers monastery. According to the churchs book of canon law, oblates are associations of Christs faithful. While the Oblates meet at the monastery there is no formal affiliation.
The writer took auxiliary status with the Oblates in 1998 in order to publish Brilly and the Boot, which she wrote over two and a half years beginning in the winter of 1996.
The publication date by Panola Publishing was November 1998 and 1,000 copies of the 2,000 first printing have been sold. The paperback sells for $9.95 and is available at the Abbey Book Store of the monastery, Trinity and Notre Dame book shops in Atlanta and Ave Maria book store in Alpharetta.
Raudenbush will sign her book at the Christmas Comes to Conyers event at Krogers on Route 138 on Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. until noon, and will read and sign at Tattersalls, a book store on Honey Creek Road, Conyers, on Dec. 12 from 3 to 5 p.m.
What next? Raudenbush says the Holy Spirit is advising her to sit back, pray and listen. She already has an outline for a sequel to this book. At the same time she feels strongly called to do a book of meditations for the growing older generation...people from 60 on.
She feels qualified to approach it from the viewpoints of wife, mother and single empty nester. But now she feels blessed to have the opportunity to spend time in quiet prayer and meditation.