A Picture of My Past
The picture I chose for my web page is not the most popular with people trying to figure out what I look like. Who I am. Deciding whether or not they want to read the articles I’ve written.
All of which is fine with me.
I use this picture because it reminds me of one hot summer day in South Carolina. A day when I was invited to drive up the coast to a favorite town of friends. To view a small fishing town and the surrounding plantations. It was mesmerizing.
The town itself was carved out of plantations and coast. What was already a profitable area for fish and shrimp increased. In spite of the Civil War, the town prospered. Like any good home town, I saw men and women who had gone off to top colleges and returned to work the land and sea.
This particular picture, however, is of a moment in time that froze me. Our host had taken my friends and me to a parcel of land he owned. The area was dunes and marsh he had planned on selling to developers. Something held him back.
Two weeks before our visit there had been an accident at precisely the place shown in the photo. Some high school boys were celebrating their graduation. They were preparing to go away to college.
One of their number drove up the sandy slope at too high of a speed. His dune buggy flipped. He landed on his neck at the bottom of a rise.
He was dead.
The boy was eighteen. In the prime of his life. All anticipation. Smart, athletic, by all accounts an all-around good guy.
I walked up to the top of the dune listening to the story. My friends were in front of me. At the top I looked down and froze.
The dead boy turned around and looked up at me knowing that finally someone could see him. My friends turned around and looked to call me, but I was in another world. My hands were stretched out. I was praying.
I called on God to send the Tunnel of Light and the angels to lead the boy to heaven. I saw a bright light. There were angels everywhere. The boy reached out, surrounded by angels and a blinding white light. In a moment he was gone.
The Tunnel closed and disappeared.
I caught my breath and turned around.
My friends and our host were all shaken. They had heard me tell stories. None had ever seen me work. A woman who called herself an atheist was standing beside her longtime friend, an Episcopalian priest. She, in particular, looked like somebody had rocked her boat.
Maybe, she said, there is a God after all.
One of the people had taken this picture while I was working.
When the memory comes back to me now, it reminds me of an evening decades before that day when I graduated high school. The seat beside me at the graduation ceremony was empty. The boy who was supposed to sit there had gone out for a joy ride on his motorcycle a few days earlier. He lost control going around a corner. He hit a tree. As sad as other people were, I couldn’t help but think what a funny guy he was. What a goofy, silly, happy sense of humor. Maybe his chair was empty, but he was just fine.
This picture reminds me of the God of surprises. How things happen that I do not expect. Things that are not supposed to happen. Not to me. Maybe to someone smarter. Funnier.
It reminds me of an evening when I was asked to work a party. I gave several short readings. Something I rarely do anymore.
One of the women asked me about her love life. If there would be anyone in her future. I gave her the answer I so often hear when I am asked that question. I told her that she first she needed to fall more in love with herself. Date herself. Go out with her friends and have a good time.
A year or two later we ran into each other. As we chatted, she mentioned that she was dating a man I knew.
Finally! I blurted out.
She looked at me with total amazement. She asked if I had known the night of the party. I told her I’d known before then. I had been waiting for the two of them to work out whatever business they each had. To figure out that they belonged together.
She asked why I hadn’t said anything earlier. I had to explain that I couldn’t. If I am too specific, people just expect things to happen for them. They don’t put in the work to make life happen.
It’s all about free will.
That’s one of the basic lessons of life. We can go speeding over the edge or we can do the work.
That’s the strange thing with my spiritual work. It’s the opposite of daily life.
When I go careening off the cliff, rip around a bend hell bent for leather, my spiritual work gets done.
My job is to fly off spiritual cliffs.
I only recommend it if you have the courage to get lost inside of the Spirit.