During his 42 years as a medical social worker, New Boston native Loren Hardin has been present to hear many life changing stories from individuals across all walks of life. These stories are what first inspired Hardin to write a newspaper column for the Daily Times over 16 years ago about his experiences.
Now, while employed as a Lead Social Worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center Hospice, Hardin writes his weekly column “Straight Paths” for five local newspapers and combines the messages he hears from patients with the word of God, to better understand his teachings in relation to the nature of man.
According to Hardin, recently, through several in-explainable signs from God, he felt compelled to take a collection of his best stories published through the years and create a book. The book, also entitled Straight Paths, is a compilation of 52 stories, a year’s worth of writings, inspired by people and events from Hardin’s 24 years as a hospice social worker.
The title Straight Paths, came from one of Hardin’s favorite scriptures.
“From Hebrews, “Seeing that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside the weights and the sins which so easily beset us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”. It goes on to say, “Strengthen your hands that hang down and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that that which is lame will not be dislocated.” The Insights for living is kind of like a straight path to walk by, a principle to live by, something to follow in difficult times,” said Hardin.
Hardin recalls a conversation he had with a patient years ago that led him to begin his writing.
“He told me, “It’s sad that I’ve learned so much, but now there’s no one here to listen. Knowledge isn’t supposed to be wasted, it’s supposed to be passed on.” That clicked in my mind, and I told him I was listening and that I would pass it on,” said Hardin.
Hardin then came about the opportunity to start writing for the Daily Times through Brent Woodard and quickly became a weekly columnist.
The response he received from the subjects of his stories and their loved ones was overwhelming and pushed him to get his column in additional papers, in hopes of reaching even more loved ones.
Hardin said that he’s been able to reunite old friends by sharing stories of his patients and had patients who kept the articles in their rooms to have visitors read to them.
“Seeing patients realize they still serve an important purpose makes the process worthwhile,” Hardin said. “It gives them a voice, they get feedback, and the opportunity to think that what they have to share still has an impact even though they are in a hospital bed. It’s neat to see that all come together.”
According to Hardin, the process of creating his book was an extremely personal one, and left him with making many tough decisions. To the stories included in the collection, to the cover art and title, Hardin had a heavy hand in making those choices.
“I went through every story I’ve written to decide which ones to include. I didn’t know how I could leave stories from other people that I loved and cared about out, I didn’t know how to choose. It was at times an agonizing process,” said Hardin.
Although it was sometimes difficult, Hardin is pleased with the finished product and says another book may be on the horizion.
“To have a finished product is really neat, to think there could be people out there ordering and reading your book from different places, much like writing a column, it’s amazing,” said Hardin.
Hardin’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” is available now on amazon.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932