Nails clicking waiting. Joelle’s heavily lipsticked full crimson lips stuck together, slowly separating as her jaw dropped. Her warm breath gently billowed into the cool sea air. Finally he had arrived. The loud exhaust of the dilapidated truck deflected and echoed against the stone arch. Turning off the ignition, the engine sputtered on, ending with a small backfire. Not being of similar pedigree, it was obnoxious incidents and sounds like this,in her world would be deemed uncouth but made him all the more interesting.
He sat in the driver’s seat looking at Joelle with a crooked grin. His thin lips quickly pulled back to a display a toothy smile. He reached with his right hand to the outside handle, unlatched his door and stepped out. She had been waiting two long years for his return. Now he was only feet away and it was if she were standing in clay unable to move. He moved towards her, seeing her shiver, removed his woollen dress uniform coat and wrapped it around her shoulders. With his right hand he lowered the tailgate. They sat down looking off into the ocean as they had so years before. He held her close saying, “I told you I’d be back”. She didn’t say a word but took a long deep breath as if to breathe him in. As the wind picked up, his pinned up left sleeve flapped in the breeze reminding him of what he had left on the battlefield. “I told you I’d be back”, he whispered.
I learned that you are dead.
Although words say you have passed, your cruel deeds committed by you to me as a child still lingered for decades.
You might have softened and treated your own children better than you treated your foster children.
I had a condition you judged as a plea for attention. Rather than love and understanding you provided physical and verbal abuse.
Perhaps you learned cruelty from those that mistreated you. I have pity for you or anyone in that circumstance if that was the case.
Perhaps you thought you taught discipline and tough love. You were mistaken.
I learned from you how it was to feel neglected and mistreated.
Because others that showed me what unconditional Love was, I was given the gift of learning that not all in the world were evil and cruel.
With this gift I have strived to the best of my ability to choose Love.
Love has the power to break all chains, yes, even the chains that until this point attempted to bind me, even from the grave.
Dedicated to all child victims and survivors of abuse, neglect, and those many many upstanding Foster Parents that instill Love and understanding to those in need. God Bless You.
Visited my Dad Gerald last night in a dream. Perhaps it was brought on after watching “Walk the Line”. Dad admired Johnny Cash. Perhaps for his out reach to prisoners but I am sure for some of his wry lyrics in songs like I Got Stripes
“On a Monday,
My momma come to see me
On a Tuesday,
They caught me with a file
On a Wednesday,
I’m down in solitary
On a Thursday,
I start on bread and water for a while”
Sunday Morning Coming Down
“The beer I had for breakfast, wasn’t bad so I had one more for dessert”
Based on Dad stories it sounded like Johnny was singing his life story.
In my dream, Dad was incarcerated and I sat with him and fellow inmates in a common area, almost like a barracks environment. What was different was that we were able to take a walk outside.
The sun was shining on a gorgeous day. I put my arm across his shoulders, the sun had warmed his back and I could feel his loving spirit. We ventured up a hill where many logs had fallen.,He picked up a giant one and placed it to keep a cliff side from collapsing. We had a few laughs, shed tears of joy for just being together but also shed familiar tears that I remember so many times growing up when it was “time to go”. Regardless, it filled my soul. Peace.
“Forgive others and you will be forgiven” ,”Forgive and forget”.
In Luke 23:34 Jesus said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
All familiar phrases. We love to provide this advice to others.
Others that we might not have any idea what they have experienced.
Then, as he only can, C.S. Lewis hits you between the eyes with, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea… Until he has something to forgive.”
Recently myself and loved ones experienced deep emotional wounds caused by those who we had thought to be trustworthy friends, almost like family. As merciful time has provided some healing of these wounds, a mental inventory tends to naturally take place and much like hitting the refresh button for a website, an evaluation takes place on the status of personal relationships. Personally as I described in an earlier post, “Human Nature”, A simple approach to the worthiness of a personal relationship can be evaluated by what others do while you are at your most vulnerable.if they cut your jugular, this is a reflection of their character and more importantly, NOT YOURS. At that point it’s not about forgiveness, all that matters is having enough self respect to sever ties to that person. Although it may sound harsh, to engage with them is to engage with a fool or a drunkard.
Recently I came across a few forums supporting the argument of not taking up the offenses of others i.e. ….fight your own battles. Additionally, 1Thessalonians 4:11 states:“Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business, and do your own work as we have already told you”.
In other words mind your own business. I couldn’t agree more.
However, human decency dictates that it is your responsibility to stand up for those without a voice or being treated unfairly. In my humble opinion, that should be your business.
Years back I took an ethics class where the curriculum was structured around ethical questions such as your stand on abortion, corporate accountability, etc… What I truly enjoyed about the class was there were no wrong answers/opinions.
The objective was to peel back the layers of laissez faire positions on posed ethical questions. I was surprised by the level of passion throughout the class as we became ethically self aware. Recent events in my life have brought me to a similar place, I felt spirituality mature enough to stand with those I felt had been wronged and although it happened to be my job to protect them, it was much more than that. Not only was it my ethical responsibility as Christian, even more so as a fellow human being.
My position doesn’t mean I am right, but simply striving to be true to where l feel an ethical line should be drawn. Peace and may God have mercy on us all.
Contemplating my next post which are typically comprised of those who have shaped my outlook on life, none have yet to be my junior. Pastor David O’Toole is the exception. I can only tell my story and will not give mention to those of a contrary opinion as this is not a pity party but rather a tribute to a good man.
Over 10 years ago I sat in the back of our local church praying for my one of my three sons to find a path to peace. Zachary as many 14 year olds was an angry you man trying to find his way. Zach recently had moved in with my wife and me in our small Ohio town. A glimmer of solace was listening to Zachary teaching himself guitar. It never dawned on me that God was about to answer my prayer.
David had been hired as a youth minster but also played in the worship band. He seemed preoccupied with his teen group and committed to his duties. I can remember we were in the church gym when I had the opportunity to talk to David about Zachary. I explained some of his struggles and his interest in guitar. David took Zachary under his wing and as any mentor, Zach was not always happy with David and probably vice versa but the relationship was genuine and grew strong to this day.I had the privilege of watching the band Strength Within, a Hard Core Christian band perform in which David was the lead singer and Zach eventually would play guitar in. I appreciated the edginess and the youth that attended the performances. It opened my eyes to a Christ worshipping raw subculture that did not tolerate hypocrisy. I was impressed.
During one of the youth summer trips David asked me to do all the cooking and it was then I saw his talent for organizing events. “Ray” he said, “there are three key factors that make or break a youth trip, the food, the location and the activities.” I still chuckle to day thinking about. “on that last day I want some much food, like a half chicken each for the kids,,,snacks at 11,” ….Good memories.
Once I had the honor of speaking to a recover group in which I whole heartily gave my testimony of my experience as the child of and addict. I mean I felt like I had given part of my soul away. The next day I was riding with David to lunch and I was explaining how I felt. He called it an “Emotional Hangover” , where you so much of yourself away that the next day you can physically and mentally feel the effects. This gave me a small glimpse of what pastors must experience on Monday mornings.
I could go on about others that I know David has effected positively but as for me I am forever grateful that God used Pastor David O’Toole to deliver my son who is now, Pastor Zach Roy, to us so many years ago.