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Of Daffodils and Forgiveness

My camera has been in the shop, the weather has been the wintery kind that lectures people with bodies a bit on the agey side such as mine to stay indoors, and I’ve been busy with the wrap-up of Dream Shards. Such are the reasons I have not taken many pictures lately, and why my photography fingers have been itchy. (NEW SUBJECT stuck right here in the middle of this paragraph: I’ve decided to take up word invention. Consider the word right there in the third line–agey. My dictionaries indicate there is no such word, while my common–or inventive–sense tells me there should be. Aged is available–a regular, ole word, but that just does not have the right sound–or look. So, agey it will remain, at least here on my column, although my smarty-pants dictionary built into my Mac snarks a red line every time I type the word!) Anyway, I got my camera back, tugged cleated boots onto my feet, slipped my hands into warm gloves, plopped a fuzzy cap atop my head, and set out.

The grey birdbath aligned by the side of these daffodils is filled with water that through the weeks of this long winter has alternated between a state of frozen slab and of liquid thin enough that the occasional bird has dipped its head, and taken a drink. At the slender feet of these magnificent flowers is a spread of white, a remnant of the record-breaking snow and rainfall we have experienced here in the San Bernardino Forest this year.

We have planted bulbs since we moved here, adding to the number that pushed through the earth and revealed themselves the first spring we lived here in Crestline. When the daffodils are in full bloom, as they are now, they sketch a golden swath of color across our front bank, truly magnificent.

Ken and Nancy, who live across the street are the best neighbors anyone could have. Three of their grandchildren are visiting now, and a couple of days ago they came onto our front deck. “What’s up, kids?” I asked them

Jake, the eldest, handed me an envelope, even as he was chattering away. “We’re sorry . . .about the flowers.”

Krista is a beautiful little girl with long black hair. Six years old, I think. Her face wore fright and sincere sorrow. She said nothing.

I opened the envelope and read the notes.


They’re allowed to play in our yard, and in the neighbors to our right, for their grandparent’s property has little flat ground. It seems they had started up a little business; selling daffodils to each other. Our daffodils, and Kerry’s who lives two houses away.

I told them it was okay, and that I knew they wouldn’t do it again. I really can’t even tell any of the flowers are missing. “Kerry thought it was a really bad thing,” Jake said in a defensive, little bit arrogant way.

A couple of days after this happened, as Jerry and I were walking back from the woods, I looked intently at Kerry’s yard. They have no daffodils. Every single flower is gone.

But Krista’s letter. Did you notice it? At the bottom, I believe she said, “Do you forgive me?”

I do. I hope Kerry does.

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On The Cusp

Occasionally we finger the edge of it; our touch reckons it to be uncommon, even of the eternal. From our deep, issue thick tears, even as our breath catches. Rarified has brushed against us; encounter with glory laces our world.

Compelled to know the depth of this story, I recognize it now more than ever, to be our story, Jerry’s and mine, and in an unfathomable way, he is as our child. He who nearly killed Jerry. We weep . . .for him. . . for his people . . .for ourselves . . .for mankind. Journal words grip . . .his father discarded by drugged parents–orphanage drop-off, as casual as the mailing of a post office package. Rage. Violence. Carried to new generation . . .and to another, kicked as a bent can down the wretched road of drugs and alcohol and anger.

“My father, an Italian man was racist, called flies on the wall niggers. My mother mentioned that she did not like me at one point because I was David Jr.” A sense of aloneness in his family engulfed him, he told me yesterday, and still at this time in his life, he intimated, “I have a sense of aloneness.”

And so we met, and talked, and cried, and loved. We apologized. We forgave.

 

Dave and his wife, Dana.

At the Claim Jumper, we ordered food we could not eat.

And they had brought their copy of A Thousand Pieces, and I wrote in it, and then did Jerry, and maybe at that moment none of our eyes took in the dedication page: To Jerry, who lived it.

So here we are. On the brim, the edge. Delving, Searching. We read. We write. The last chapter? On the margin of enlightenment, self-understanding, reckoning with ourselves, finding our way ever deeper into the presence of God. The Buxtons and the Esteys . . .on the cusp. . .

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Addiction Christianity/Religion Courage God Goodness of man Life overcoming adversity Religion

A Rare, Noble Man

As soon as it beeped, I reached for the phone beside me and as I lifted it, I saw the number was an unfamiliar one. A text message read:

 

This is Dave Estey. The man that was driving the truck. I have read the book and want you to know how sorry I am. This is my contact number if anyone would ever need to speak to me further. With the deepest regret. God bless. Dave
 

I did not know anyone named Dave Estey, but as soon as I read his message, I knew that indeed, I did know him. He was the driver of the truck that twenty-five years ago had struck my husband as he stood beside a disabled car, leaving him so critically injured that he spent five months in St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, CA.

Some of you will know that several years ago I wrote a book entitled A Thousand Pieces in which I told the story of Jerry’s death in the street, the lady who revived him, his almost unbelievably severe injuries, and his remarkable recovery. I also told that the driver of the truck who hit Jerry was driving with a suspended license, had no insurance, no assets, was drunk, and was high on methamphetamines.

 

A Thousand Pieces has been an inspiration to scores of people, and is now in its fourth printing. Among other places, it is available at Amazon.

So, as I looked at my phone on January 17, 2019, I came to the reckoning that Dave Estey was that driver.

“Jerry,” I called across the room. “Listen to this text I just received.”

The details are too many to include here, but know this: Jerry and I during the past two days have come to know that Dave Estey is a rare man, one of meekness and goodness; of sweetness and of love. He has fought demons most of his life and is a deeply wounded man. But now, in his early fifties, he has come to himself,  is analyzing his life, and is making restitution. He is humble, remorseful, and truly repentant. Two days ago, he sat by Jerry in a restaurant, looked him square in the face, and, prefaced by several long sentences, said, “I am sorry.”

And my husband . . .in his sweet, slow way, put his hand atop Dave’s, and said, “I forgave you twenty-five years ago.” The sweet presence of God hovered about us, and we all, I believe, wept.

As I said earlier, the whole story is too long to tell here, but you should know this. Sometime back, Dave began searching for Jerry Buxton, and as he did, he came across this blog, learned through it of A Thousand Pieces, and ordered a copy from Amazon. He then made the contact to which I have referred, and made other contacts, which resulted in our meeting together. He lives 450 miles away from us. Last Tuesday he drove down to our area, and along with his wife, and two of our friends, Patrick and Holly Garrett, Jerry and I met him at the Claim Jumper in San Bernardino.

I have essentially finished writing a book called Dream Shards and was working on some drafting of it when the first text from Dave came. The gist of the new book is that each of us has dreams and at one time or another they all shatter. The issue then is what we do about it? Do we wallow around in the ashes, the shards, or do we pick up the pieces and fashion a new piece? A new dream? The coexistence and interaction of Jerry’s story and Dave’s story must be a part of that book. So even though I was through writing it, I am adding another chapter. Dave and I will be communicating by phone and email and the rest of his story will be told in that book.

In the meantime, I submit to you that Dave Estey is a rare and courageous man, and despite his sordid history, he is a good man. We are still shaken about this meeting, and believe it involves more than can be seen or understood. No doubt it is of the spiritual realm, and is directed by God. Both Jerry and I believe Dave has caught a vision of righteousness and godliness, and we will continue to do all we can to lead him to a full biblical experience with God. Please pray for all of us.

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Anguish and Forgiveness

To plumb the depths of a person and there find pristine virtue and untarnished valor is rare, seldom sighted among us, notable because of its infrequent reality. To detect its presence in a lighted eye neath the furrow of sincere brow, to catch a drift of telling word and its corroborating moves–moves that signal not only the philosophy, but the exhibition of this thing called forgiveness, is an almost unknown factor in our jaded society. I mean real forgiveness, gut-wrenching forgiveness, ghastly forgiveness. Forgiveness that stops the world, that snaps to attention the heads of men and women across the globe. It matters not our divergence, our cut, our color or our class…for when we see it and hear it and know it, we understand that we are seeing, hearing and knowing God. It’s that rare.

The Nickel Mines Amish did it. They showed us Forgiveness. Awful forgiveness, anguished forgiveness, bloody forgiveness.

Recall that just over a year ago these Amish people–a religious group who lived in Nickel Mines, Pa. on farms without electricity and other modern conveniences had their lives splintered into untold agony when a person who lived in the area, their milkman, Charles Roberts, burst into a one-room schoolhouse, and shot ten young girls. Five of them died. Unbelievably, during these atrocious actions, one of the girls, 13-year-old Marian Fisher, offered to be killed first, thinking perhaps the others would be saved. The most telling of all is that within hours of the murders, these beautiful Amish people–the families of the slain children–not only spoke of forgiving Charles Roberts, but visited his wife and children and gave them food and money.

Picture and the following from the Pittsburg Post Gazette

Horrified strangers worldwide sent $4.3 million to the Nickel Mines Amish settlement in Bart, Lancaster County. But the Amish, who have no insurance, used the gifts for more than medical bills.

They gave shares to local emergency services that came to their aid and, in a move that caught the world’s imagination, to the widow and children of the man who murdered their daughters.

“It certainly means a lot for us to spend some time with the families,” Miller said after their meeting together on the anniversary of the shooting. “There’s no other place we would have rather been this morning.”

Also attending were community members, state troopers and officials from Virginia Tech, where a gunman killed 32 students and faculty members in April, Miller said.

Though grateful for all the help and sympathy it has received, the Amish community is hoping to be left alone as much as possible Tuesday during the actual anniversary of the shootings.

The New Hope Amish School, which replaced the one torn down after the attack, was closed Monday and will remain shut Tuesday.

Read more here.

Now consider this–also from the Pittsburg Post Gazette

Not everyone affirms the Amish response.

Rabbi Alvin Berkun, rabbi emeritus of Tree of Life Congregation, Squirrel Hill, and president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative Rabbis, applauds the Amish care for Amy Roberts, but not their forgiveness of Charles Roberts.

“In Judaism, there are some strings attached. I have to say I’m sorry for what I did, I have to resolve not to repeat that pattern of behavior again and I have to ask those I harmed to forgive me,” he said.

“Letting somebody off the hook even though they are dead doesn’t sit well with me. Society can’t function when you just wipe the slate clean constantly. He did a horrendous, horrendous thing and he did absolutely nothing to repent.”

This post was difficult for me to put together, and I truly can say as I finish here, that from the skin of my body to my inward parts, I am shaken, and at this moment physically tremble. I knew when I broached the subject it would be difficult. For in trying to be honest with myself, I wonder…I truly wonder…could I forgive such an assault on my family as did the Amish in Nickel Springs? Am I that Godly? If I’m not, why not? Is such forgiveness indeed Godliness?

What about you? Do you have it within you to exhibit such a sterling quality? Have you been challenged in your resolve to forgive those who wrong you? Ever had to extend forgiveness when it really hurt, when it caused anguish? Do you perhaps agree with Rabbi Berkun that forgiveness in this instance is misplaced?

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My devotional blog is here.