How a simple ink pen became the gift of hope

Posted August 11

My friend slides the slender white box across the table at a quiet Mexican restaurant. “I brought you something.”

I’m rarely surprised by a gift, but this one drops my jaw and pries my eyes wide open. It’s a gorgeous pen from his personal collection.

But it’s not about the pen.

This good man, Logan Groll, a very talented wordsmith, explains how he hopes the pen represents hope. He suggests I use it on the days I feel a little down, a little stuck or just need a little reminder of why I write.

It’s a symbol. It’s a hint of hope.

I examine the gift, admire its handcrafted details and carefully rest it back in its box like a father with a newborn. The right words to properly say “thank you” awkwardly tumble out and although the topic turns to his own creative projects, my eyes steal glances at the box on the glossy restaurant tabletop. I wonder just how he knew that what I needed most wasn't a writing instrument, but something that can't be wrapped.

That night, I show off the gift to my family. As it passed from hand to hand, I privately I wonder how long it will be before I use the thoughtful gift for the first time.

Not long, in fact.

I used the pen the next morning.

Writing in my ideas journal — a creative mess of ideas that mostly won’t ever see a newspaper, website or bookstore — I studied the heavy instrument in my right hand and began to ponder the many gifts I've given and received through the years.

I remembered the shirts, the socks, the trinkets and treats. I recalled the unseen gifts of time, laughter and forgiveness.

As my hope rose, like the sun outside my office window, I realized just how right my pal was.

Giving gifts isn’t about the pen, book, bobble head or bag of gummy bears.

It's about the message.

The most meaningful gifts say, "I see you. I love you. I believe in you."

Looking at the gifts on my shelf, desktop and hanging from my wall, I began seeing the moment they were given. I felt the gratitude. I remembered the love.

I was filled with hope.

How many times I’ve searched for just the right widget, the one thing that will make Mom smile, the kids laugh, or that sentimental whatchamacallit that will bring a tear to my wife’s eye on a fill-in-the-blank holiday.

In my blood-sweat-and-tears efforts to nail it just right, maybe I’ve overlooked the real power of a gift to lift.

Maybe that old cliché — "it’s the thought that counts" — is truer than I knew.

I hope one day soon I’m also sitting across a table giving a gift that drops a jaw and pries two eyes wide open. But not because of the price tag, the brand or the way the light dances off the edges.

No. I pray one afternoon I can give away the kind of gift Logan gave me. Something simple and pure that says, "I see you. I love you. I believe in you."

May we all follow my friend's thoughtful example and just give a little helping of hope. No matter what it looks like.

You never know. It might be what they need most.

Jason Wright is New York Times best-selling author of 11 books. His latest, "A Letter to Mary" is now available for preorder on Amazon. Learn more at, or connect on Facebook at


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