Last year, Sequim author Rich Johnson molded his insights into the inspirational book “A Lump of Clay.” This year, he welcomes people on a spiritual path to “The Castle Gate.”
Johnson, a wide-ranging author on survival tips, sailing, automotive work and more, shares his story about a grandfather and his 13-year old granddaughter on a hike through a forest.
Along the way, they spot a shining castle and through various tribulations push through toward it, with a twist at the end. “Life is filed with ups and downs,” Johnson said. “The closer we draw to the castle, the brighter things get, with the castle representing the Holy Father, the spiritual strength we get.”
Johnson said the good times and bad times are all related in the story, which tie together in the end, but he doesn’t want to give too much away.
“There are stories buried inside the story. I was talking to a woman who is reading it for a second time. She’s picking up things she missed the first time.”
At the end of the characters’ journey, there is a death; Johnson said losing a loved one is one of the most universal experiences we share.
“I wanted it to be a story of hope at the end,” he said. “This isn’t over when we die. It’s a Christian theme.”
Johnson’s biblical inspiration came from John 14:2 — “In my Father’s house are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you.”
“We’re just passing through here,” he said. “It’s kind of like school. We’re learning what need to learn before we leave here.” Johnson said a castle gate was a good visual for readers picturing heaven’s entrance.
He envisions heaven as a glorified version of the relationships people have on Earth.
“The most important things we experience here are relationships with people,” he said. ”It doesn’t matter how big your house or car or boat is; the most important thing is ongoing relationships with family members and loved ones without the turmoil and distractions that this life brings.”
Writing books such as “The Castle Gate” for his publishing company, Candle Light Books, is an opportunity for Johnson to write exactly what he wants.
“I do technical writing, automotive, and outdoor survival. There’s nothing tender and spiritual about those,” he said. “When I get to write on things that I want to write, it’s really special to me.”
A surprise ending is a norm for Johnson’s recent books.
He said in doing layout for “A Lump of Clay” he intentionally made the reader turn the last page to get the message.
The response is positive from readers so far.
“Everyone who has read (The Castle Gate) has been brought to tears. Maybe they are bunch of wimps like me and easily brought to tears,” he joked.
Johnson’s spiritual books come from a tender part in his heart, he said, and a passion through his love and faith for Jesus.
“We can’t do anything to save ourselves. No matter what we do, we have to depend on what he did for us,” Johnson said.
“Castle Gate” and “Lump of Clay” are family friendly and tested on his grandchildren, ages 6 to teenagers. He found their reactions all different but enlightening.
“Don’t underestimate the ability of a child to understand a thing,” he said.
Both books are small, short reads designed as gift books for Christians of all denominations. Johnson said he kept the costs low; the books priced about the same as a fine Christmas card.
Johnson plans to continue his Christian gift book series at least once a year.