When I was a child, I didn’t have
dreams of riding the range on a silver horse. I didn’t want to be a soldier, a fireman or any of the other occupations’
boys alluded to. I wanted to sing, or write, or to preach.
Yes, preach. It was something I wanted to do as far back as I can
wasn’t born to an overly religious family. Our church was of a “general Protestant” denomination, unaffiliated
with other, more formal religions. My sister and I attended our chapel each week but for the hot summer Sundays when my father
would pack us all in the Chevy so we could worship nature at one of the many lakes in our area. A picnic table was my pew.
The sky, the trees and the sand beach composed my stained glass. The lake was my weekly baptism.
Even though my church attendance was weathered by the seasons,
I was devout. I read everything I could from the Bible and the New Testament. I listened intently to our church lessons and
I felt the spirit.
the movie “The Ten Commandments” came out, my parents thought I was too young to sit nearly 4 hours, so they went
to the theater without me.
The following day my mother and I discussed the film. I knew all about how the story unfolded and asked several questions
concerning multiple passages. She bragged about my knowledge to everyone.
A few years later, my singing career was dashed by my lack
of pitch and I was limited to pursuing just two vocations. Writing was as natural to me as was becoming a preacher. Although
I could write at any time and was encouraged to do so in school, there was never anyone who prompted to me preach. On top
of that, at age eleven, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t pure enough of heart to follow the enlightened path,
let alone lead others there, so by default, I focused my hopes on writing.
I was encouraged to write at that young age by situations
mentioned previously. Since that was the most practical direction to take and by far the one that required the least overall
spiritual commitment, writing became my primary choice.
Then, some years later, I joined the military. Every man in my family from the previous two generations,
had fought in wars or prepared for such, during their service commitments.
The Viet Nam “police action” was at its height,
so with limited choices I volunteered. When I reached training, I found it extremely difficult to reconcile my life’s
beliefs with the necessities of war. During the first two years I did all I could to position myself so that I wouldn’t
compromise those beliefs. I reported to men who apparently didn’t want my issues on their records, so they covertly
accommodated my needs and overlooked my protests. At year three, I took a major stand against the military when the government
decided to avoid peace at all costs and dedicate all their resources to an uncertain victory. Since my record was outstanding,
I was taken aside and questioned at length about my beliefs by a Lawyer, a Captain, a Military Priest and a Psychologist who
held the rank of Colonel. The lawyer was the first to suggest that I was a ConscientiousObjector
and put that in my records. After nearly two more years of cross examination by lawyers, courts and even a congressional investigation
into denial of due process, I was offered an honorable discharge on the condition I stop attempting to “disrupt”
the process and leave the military.
During that time and for a few years following, my spirituality had developed to a peak due to the constant interrogations
and attempts by others to discount my beliefs. My opinions had crystalized and become etched in the granite of my soul.
As years went by, I moved more and more
toward literature and further away from my devotional leanings.
My career grew and moved on while the reverential aspics of my being
fell further into the background. All along, however, I kept a wisp of devotion in everything I did.
I had no time nor desire to become a
religious scholar so, like so many of our time, I looked to the internet. There I found a site that would endow me with an
applied, followed their instructions and suggestions and at last, became an accredited minister as a sideline.
Some years ago, my son and his girlfriend
decided to relocate to Ecuador and run a hostel. During the following year and a half, they dedicated to one another and decided
to marry. My son requested that I join them and officiate.
I spent hours researching and developing a ceremony that might fit
their union. My wife and I then traveled to South America and joined the couple, along with members of her family and some
friends, in Ecuador. We traveled several hours from Quito, the capitol, to a small resort in the heart of a mountain rain
forest for the wedding. As we traveled deeper and deeper into the lush emptiness, driving across streams without bridges,
surrounded by ever higher shear mountains and ardent forests, we arrived at the destination. It was magic. Flocks of Parrots,
hummingbirds of all nature, and wildlife galore surrounded a grass roofed cathedral that was to be our church. It was as though
I was in a dream.
location; the local people who shared their home and their food; the friends and relatives who had traveled so far to be enveloped
by the beauty of the scene and the love of the couple, all amplified the excitement of the day.
I stood under the thatched roof with
my son at my side and watched his fiancÚ’s father bring her toward us and my senses overflowed with joy.
As the couple stood before me and recited
their devotions to one another, it took all my strength to offer the remainder of the ceremony without breaking down. Although
I barely maintained, when they turned, and I introduced the newlyweds to the audience, it was a sense so fulfilling I could
never even have imagined the gratification I could experience from my choices all those many years before.
Now, several years later, they have just
given birth to a third child. Being a small part of their union was one of my fondest achievements.
In addition, they allowed me to accomplish
another of my childhood dreams. Two of three have now been fulfilled. But all in all, I am truly grateful that they didn’t
ask me to sing.