fountain pen

Fountain Pen

August 23, 2019
I decided that was the last shirt I would ruin with my ballpoint pens. I had ruined shirt after shirt. While most of my written words were composed on the computer screen, I have always carried a pen, very often forgetting to retract it before putting it back into my pocket. But what pen options did I have?

My generation was taught cursive writing; still my penmanship choice. We learned with fountain pens. At school, I bought a Schaeffer pen for a dollar and ink cartridges for a nickel. I learned to cross the midline with my ascenders and just graze the line with most of my letters. I loved to write letters with tails where my “style” flourished. So, a few years ago, I went back to my childhood and bought a fountain pen. I haven’t ruined a shirt since.

Then the surprise came. It was all unexpected. Writing with a fountain pen forced practices that changed me. 

Writing with my fountain pen forced me to slow down. It takes just a bit more time to write with my pen, not enough to drop my productivity. It slowed me down enough to be present in the moment. My wakefulness increased, even before it was the cool thing. 

Care is needed with a fountain pen. It became a tool to me, much like my father’s wrenches were his beloved tools. Even after he passed, I could pick up one and almost feel the way he held it as if cold steel had conformed to his hand. With use, fountain pen nibs really do conform to the user’s grip and writing style. There is a spiritual lesson here about how we are shaped and conformed to God’s will as we submit to it. Please don’t be offended if I don’t offer my pen for your use. I like what is happening.

Fountain pens must be refilled, another spiritual lesson. In a busy week, I refill every five to six days. Sometimes it is messy to refill, but it’s a little price to pay for the pleasure that writing with it brings me. Though I have collected several pens, my everyday carry only cost a few dollars. 

Writing with my pen has increased my reflection. I am not sure how this happened, but I think before I write more often with the fountain pen in my hand. My journaling improved in frequency and in quality. I am generally more reflective now. I look forward to writing.

My creativity increased. Some days my journal is composed of smoky topaz ink and on other days with deep blue, one of my university’s colors. My handwriting improved drastically so that people often remark about its readability, something that never happened with ballpoints. 

In our fast and furious culture, hand-written notes carry emotion you never find in a text message. A hand-written note is treasured. Our Bible was hand-written for more than a millennium. Being a scribe was an honored profession. When I write with my fountain pen, I feel connected to that tradition. I am not giving up my computer, but I so appreciate the simple gift of my pen. My pen has brought a new appreciation for the scroll Baruch produced from Jeremiah’s inspired words (Jer. 36). I feel John’s words when he said that no number of books could contain all the words and actions of Jesus (John 21:25). Then I see the worthy Lamb open the Lion of Judah’s scroll in Revelation 5. Handwriting was elevated to glorious levels.

So, “take a scroll and write on it (Jer. 36:2).”

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