So many years ago, when we were all young, young men traveled from the deep warm south of Florida to Fayetteville, Georgia. Little did we know we would share in an adventure which would bare the beauty of nature and the one who created us with the ability to give thanks and remember a precious moment of joy.
On a cold January sunny day, with snow on the ground so rare in middle Georgia. The temperature so low, freezing yet we stepped into the cold, so unsure but bundled in anticipation of an encounter with the cold north. How would we do, in the chili air, so unfamiliar and unfriendly? From so many joyful journeys past, I wanted these boys to encounter a friend in a walking stick, a companion as had become my practice. So before we could begin to venture, explore and go, the spirit of the adventure lead me to provide each a walking stick. Young trees, you know cut down in youth. Although at the time we couldn’t have known those sticks would regain life and live on even to this day
How could any of us know the memory of this day would grow. For this trip was planned long before we were formed and was destined to become a gift that would lift. The stick is but a symbol of a staff to support one who will endure a journey and continue to explore.
All carried a staff, except the one who carried a video recorder instead, to record and document the explore, so we all one day could cherish, remember and treasure this memory ever more. As our spirits entered the explore, our lives became united for evermore. We wandered through the woods and the forest.
We began to experience the pleasure of finding a real treasure to be buried in the soul of our essence so one day we might just discover we could encounter each day, his presence if only we looked into our room. We walked through the woods up and down small hills. We followed a creek down a raven. It naturally flowed into a valley and terminated into a pond covered with a light layer of ice. Oh one so small should challenge mother nature so brave, then so quickly step onto the ice. Almost before I knew the strong arm of a guardian angel wrapped in a brother swiftly reached out and caught hold the small one. The pond was deep and the water so cold for one so bold. Thank God the child did not slip into the darkness and out of sight.
The event flashed before my eyes and caught me so very much by surprise. Again and again I thanked the Lord up above, the little one survived. How could I ever explain away the pain to his mother who trusted so complete? Oh mom I just lost your youngest son on this adventure explore.
One whose designs are ever so much powerful than mine, so long ago planted the seed, that just this day sprang up and bore fruit in the form of the same gift born anew. Without question or doubt I must take this risk and share or I may destroy a more precious treasure buried there, It lies in the hearts of all those who were there. Beyond human anticipation or design we could not have planned such a situation. A story we encountered together so long long long ago brought to new life to this moment and yes even every day.
The swiftness of the spirit that flows through the mind penetrated deeply my soul to show me without doubt, we have been followed about by a spirit more powerful than doubt. How could it be, the spirit waited all this time just for you and I?? Though we don’t think, so the spirit never tires of calling our name. It didn’t happen for me alone, but the one who called me by name as he penetrated my mind, touched my lips with burning embers of the fire of love to enable this same spirit to touch the hearts and minds of all those who shared in the gift of this memory we share.
So much has happened in the time that has passed. We have journeyed so far all seeking, knocking and searching to gain the joy of being complete. The struggle has been intense and the losses so real. The spirit of pain triggers the potential ever more to the buried joy that comes from memories more. They are contained within the words of the spirit which flows from antiquity through the pens of generations spent unto even this day. If only we could read and absorb the message written by the finger of God on memory there.
For the testimony is ever so clear. When we are young we learn to view the world through the eyes of many already blind, who are unable to hear even when we try our best to scream into their ear. Gifted with a spirit and drive to survive, to be sure we will survive, we unintentionally build a wall around our wounded heart so we can survive, adapt, adjust, and unwittingly develop behaviors of pretend. From the deeps and midst of this intense struggle our wounded spirit can appear to be beyond repair. So deep is the woundedness, hurt and pain our subconscious mind is the only place we might for the briefest moments scarcely admit the truth of the deeps of the darkness that abounds and surrounds.
Yet the psalms teach again and again, out of the depths of darkness and despair will come the light to those who hope and search for the light. For the light never stops shinning! Woundedness causes one to lose sight but only for a long long night, until an encounter with the light in the midst of the darkest night. The human heart has been in the midst of this struggle with darkness and light from the beginning of the very first fight.
Adam literally means from the earth which defines our foundation clear. Alone we cannot see the light, it is only when the spirit that lives within is free that the light penetrates the human heart. The stories of the ancient ones tells what it takes to seek the light and regain our spiritual balance so we can continue the journey even in the midst of darkness and pain because the light comes from within and not without. So stop looking out when the truth lives within.
Frank Reid traveled this country as a conductor on the rail road beginning before the 1900’s. He lived a nomadic hard life and from being so lonesome and alone must have grown to become an alcoholic. Frank lived in separation and brokenness, a darkness that eventually ended in divorce.
He had three daughters who were abandoned by their father when they were young. A trauma only those who have known could taste. Norma married Mike who too journeyed the wounded and brokeness trail of an alcoholic life. He too left and divorced Norma. Imagine the struggle to survive when the two men you love most in life abandon you to darkness and strife. You see Norma never recovered from that woundedness deep. She was never able to open her heart and consider marrying again. Imagine her agony when Johnny was killed. She witnessed yet another loss of a father so near and dear in her life.
The deeps of her woundedness buried in her soul lead Norma to make decisions which favored a son who lost more than she could bare. Could Norma see this favoritism? Perhaps, yet I think she was trapped in her own darkest despair and was keenly aware of her inability to control the men she loved and still lost. So Norma desperately needed to control what she could in her life. She choose to control her children.
Young children and even old children, unless shown by someone older and wiser do not instinctively know how to respond to one they know they love, are told to love and know they should love. What does one do who begins to see favoritism and wants equal attention but is somehow overlooked. What can one do when one is so young and new. The human drive to survive and a mind very much alive can kindle frustration, jealousy, anger and create division brought about by what appears perceived favoritism. All children will by nature develop anger and behavior adaptations because the drive to survive planted by God ever so deeply and so alive will take over and they have no other way to survive.
Every human walking this planet has some form of anger and behavior that masks and hides the woundedness of the human journey. Rick lived and walked into a world fancy and new but hidden below where many a conflict abrew. How does one be dad and control a Norma so determined to prevail and ones own children when it certainly appears that favoritism exists within the family. Oh one can become so over critical of the favored one so tender and new. All crave the attention showed about but what does one do when the showers come not about? The emotions of anger penetrate real, that they almost any action receives the short end of the attention from both ends.
What does one so young do?? One very young one had received a new sweat shirt for Christmas, a treasured and valued gift it wound appear because it was not a hand me down but his alone and so new. What would he do if one of his brothers put on that precious sweat shirt?? A scissors worked and cut to pieces – satisfaction speaking so loudly to say can’t you please hear me this day! If it can’t be mine alone it can’t be anyone’s.
From my point of view to you there is just no doubt I did not come to Florida this year but was sent by the healer of intent. A lover who knows the depths down to our toes. I was reminded on the seed planted so long ago. How could I speak to the heart and open the door so one can explore ever so much more. The voice that passes my lips in not mine but divine to those who will listen to the voice that passes.
How could it be that the one who hasn’t been seem since the journey so may years before shows up for Mass the Sunday morning that I am there. With great courage and some to spare for it smelled like a brewery there after being out through the darkness of the night? How could it be that another is confined to bondage to the house? Resists if you will the voice that speaks what I must say and yet finally responding by acknowledging a search for healing is already underway? The youngest says I believe in God but not the church.
The Church is so often misunderstood and serves as a great symbol. It is in truth symbolized in the crushed grains of wheat which have been so thoroughly broken and smashed and the grapes too become something new from being crushed and broken as they pass through a wine press. No one can recognize a single grain or grape anymore!
The oldest is quite and strong yet seems to have been emerging from the darkness from before I arrived.
In some small way I encountered each hearts an anew and I pray in some small way the light and joy of life that lives in me penetrated to the door to your heart. Each one has been given wonderful gifts from the explore up to today when we walked in the door. Gifts I suspect we all may not understand yet! Gifts were born out of many a drift and woundedness encountered in the explore!
It is God’s way and plan of turning darkness and disorder into light. God does not call the qualified – God qualifies the called through the woundedness of the journey. The Exodus story – Moses told the Lord clearly I can’t do it alone – lead your people! You gotta give me some help. In response the Lord gave Moses a staff with which he performed so many miracles. Won’t you Read them anew!
During the brief time we visited I encountered adventures new and by the time I finished Sunday Mass the Lord had spoken to my heart about the walking sticks I handed to you so long ago. Just maybe – just maybe one may listen to the voice from ages past because a long time ago a treasure was buried in the hearts of ever so young boys. It is not an accident I we journeyed together yesterday and today.
It was not an accident so long ago we took the trip through the woods. It was not accident Cory showed up for Mass. It was not accident Blayne was under house arrest. It was no accident Kyle had the courage to say he didn’t believe in the church! It was no accident Sean and his girl friend are headed different ways.
The message is clear to me. We can not walk alone. We all need a staff a walking stick. We all need to know we are loved. God loves each one exactly as one is found at this very moment. God has a plan for each. Our journey has qualified us far more than we know. He has a plan for each that no other on the face of this earth can fulfill.
The truth is we can walk in the midst of the deepest darkness if we only open our hearts to the Lord and lean on him we can experience real joy, freedom and healing (that’s what carrying a staff does it opens our hearts to the Lord to miracle). And when we do we will become a light passing through the darkness of this world and the potential to touch the people we encounter with the gift of hope.
Norma touched the lives of so many wounded people. Orphans, widows, strangers, travelers, homeless, prostitutes, the lowly, the lost and forsaken and the disenfranchised. In many ways Norma has touched these folks more than the institutional Church or myself.
The church is a mystery of love that travels through time on the wings of those who journey the depths of the valley of tears.
Forgive me for my faults and May God Bless All