The Bible says that iron sharpens iron. I guess I never truly understood what that meant. To be honest, I’ve been a Christian for many years, I’ve attended church weekly; I even attend a Tuesday morning men’s Bible study. In these groups we discuss specific scriptures and discuss the various aspects of being a biblical man. I guess I never realized how much these men would have my back when I needed them.
The well distinguished male of the age of fifty-two typed into his desktop computer. His focus held intently on the Illuminated screen. He wore a well fitted pale blue T-shirt atop a pair of khaki pants. From his parched lips rested a pipe, in which he puffed on in between the words typed. The storyteller was in his home office, which was nice and tranquil, perfect for concentration. The room consisted of wooden furniture and a series of bookshelves filled with a variety of books.
I guess I always assumed that life was a lonesome road, where you fend for yourself and you only depend on a few: your wife and a few good friends. I took the words of my Tuesday Bible study companions with a grain of salt, taking what was easy and convenient and leaving the rest on the cutting room floor.
I never thought I would need the advice of these gentlemen; much less seek the advice of these men that I met with every Tuesday morning. Yet, I got to the point where I had no other choice…..
One year earlier:
The well distinguished man sat at a large oak table in the dining room. The glasses that normally rested on the bridge of his nose were buried within a closed fist. Before him lay a large stack of papers: divorce papers. His wife, Elise, has been gone on and off for the last six months. Truthfully, he never even knew that she was unhappy, without warning she was packed up and gone, only to return until next major fight and then she’d be gone again, without warning.
The couple married in their early twenties. They married in a time where love conquered all and the future was bright and inviting as a warm as a summer’s day. Michael found himself thriving in a career as a reporter. Elise worked for a small publishing company as an editor. Literature brought the couple together and literature helped keep the couple strong. The years went by and the relationship strengthened, the two became inseparable.
Now, Michael Paddock sat in the family home hoping to understand his wife’s motives while at the same time decipher the jargon printed on the legal documents. The room that was once the source of much love, laughter and good times was now dark, ominous and unfamiliar.
“I can’t….I can’t do this.” Michael said to himself. He continued to thumb through the pages of the large manuscript. Laying two flat palms on the surface of the table, Michael lifted himself from the seat, roaming around the dining room. “I can’t comprehend any of this. I’m really not sure what’s going on.” He told himself, stressfully combing his fingers though his grayish blonde hair.
The divorce papers were left on the dining room table. Michael made his way through the darkened hallways. He worked his way into his bedroom, a room he hasn’t been able to truly rest in since the day that Elise left. Sleep has abandoned him while fear allured him.
“Michael, how are you doing?” It was a Tuesday morning; Michael sat amongst his fellow Bible study members discussing the week’s scripture. Everything inside of told him to flee from the situation, to run from the question, but he remained. He knew that he needed to be there.
Michael remained silent.
The conversation continued. The group read through the scripture, taking notes on the verses, and discussing the application to the men’s everyday lives. Throughout the conversation Michael remained silent.
The remaining gentlemen spoke about their lives; their relationships with their wives, the struggles of their jobs and the difficulties of raising children in such a technology centered culture. Michael knew that many of the men were speaking strictly on a surface level, only opening up enough to fool the others in the group. Knowing the hypocrisy of the men, Michael refused to speak of his broken heart and upcoming divorce. Yet, something told him that they already knew.
The meeting ended and Michael quickly drove to work. Later that evening, Michael remained quiet as he drove back to his home, his thoughts filled with all of the things that he should have said….all of the things that he wished he’d said.
“God, how could this happen? When did things get so messed up?” Michael’s hands gripped on the steering wheel as he drove. “Why did she leave? What caused her to lose hope? Was it you that she loses hope in, God? Or was it me? You know, I had the opportunity tonight to finally saying everything that I needed to say; I had the opportunity to get their help, yet here I am, alone and talking to you.”
Michael didn’t know who he was talking to; maybe it was God, the almighty creator or just himself, hoping that something he told himself would take root in his mind and grow into change in action.
“I know that I’m going to need support during this time, but I also know that I would never ask for it; I’m too proud. I can’t be seen as weak. I need help. So, here’s the question: How do I create a support system when I am too weak to admit I’m weak? How do I receive help when I refuse to ask for help?”
Michael paused, pondering further questions.
The car pulled into the driveway and maneuvered into the opening garage at the end of a long work day. Michael exited the car, heading toward the door that granted access to the rest of the home. Michael found himself in his bedroom, kneeling at the edge of the bed, whispering a prayer to God. He was unsure whether God heard his prayers; this was just a habit he’d developed with his wife. He’d figured it keep it up, in case of her return.
This is impossible. Michael thought to himself as he lay in bed, the covers pulled up to his collar. His eyes roamed the darkness of the bedroom; the very room that they shared together, the room that he now cradled closer to his loneliness. I can’t handle this. This house to too big, too quiet, to…..ever since she left, I just haven’t been the same. Every day I am forced to wake up without her, go to work, than come home to an empty house. I’m still waiting for her to return……I’m beginning to think that she was serious when she left.
Every night Michael lies in bed, thinking of her. Her gentle features emblazoned in his memory. Over the last few months Michael attempted to contact his wife, Elise, but to no avail. It seems she ignored his efforts.
“So, Michael, how are you?” Franklin Copper, the director of the Tuesday morning Bible study asked Michael as he took his seat. Michael shrugged with a standard, non-informative answer.
Every Tuesday Michael would find his way to the morning Bible study and every morning Franklin would ask Michael how he was doing, more than likely looking for an honest, sincere answer. Michael chooses never to expand on his very ordinary, “I’m okay,”
At the end of the Bible study, Michael would shake the hands of the other men in attendance, and prepare for his car ride to work, where he turned his brain on to “zombie mode.”
“Hey Michael,” Franklin called out, heading from his seat, directly over to Michael. “Hey, I know that you may not want to talk about what’s going on with Elise, just know that I’m here to listen if you need to.” Franklin spoke briefly, understanding that Michael didn’t want to talk though his pain.
“Uh, thanks, Frank.” Michael responded sheepishly, hoping for his usual quick exit from the parking lot of the coffee shop that they met at. Franklin was also a divorcee. He and his wife divorced nearly six years ago when their only child drowned in the neighborhood pool.
Ever since then Michael and Elise’s separation a year prior to the divorce papers being delivered to Michael, Franklin has been aiming a lot of his attention on Michael, offering pieces of advice and help whenever Michael needed it.
Michael never took Franklin up on the offer.
Michael would sit through the Bible studies and the church services without saying much of a word to anyone. Throughout the week he would drift through his duties, unaware of what he was truly doing, than he would head home, hoping to hear from his wife, only to be mentally bombarded with thoughts of her as he tried to sleep.
He awaited her return. She remained missing.
Nightly, Michael would read over the divorce papers in disbelief. He would scratch his head, questioning whether he should sign the documents or continue to put in off in hopes to gain to trust again.
“If I sign, than she’ll be free. She can finally be happy. She couldn’t find happiness with me; at least I can give her the opportunity to be happy with someone else.” Michael thought to himself, directing his attention to the packet of divorce papers.
“I’m here to listen if you need….” Michael thought of Franklin’s words as he pondered over the legal documents. I need to talk to someone. He‘s the only one that I know will listen without judgment. He definitely seems like he would understand.
“Well, I guess here goes nothing.” Michael said to himself, picking up the phone and holding it in front of his face. A few years ago, when Michael began going to the Tuesday morning Bible study, Franklin offered him his phone number, now Michael searched for it fervently.
“Hello?” Michael heard Franklin greeting the caller on the other end. His voice was gentle and inviting. With a deep breath, Michael responded:
“Hey, Franklin it’s me; Michael.” Michael’s voice revealed himself as nervous and timid. Michael awaited Franklin’s response, while he thought through what he would say next.
“Hey Michael, how are you?” Franklin’s voice was filled with excitement. “This is a pleasant surprise. To what do I own this pleasure?” Franklin was very pleased at the surprise of Michael’s phone call.
“I….uh…..you said if I ever needed to talk, I could call you.” Michael’s trepidation echoed through the phone, still unsure whether he should have made this call or ignored this urge.
“Of Course,” Franklin exclaimed from the other end with a smile. Michael could envision Franklin’s infectious smile on the other end. “How can I help you?”
“I guess I’m calling because I need your advice.” Michael said, admitting his weakness. “Elise wants a divorce.” He admitted.
The two men spoke about the news of the divorce and for once, Michael was speaking from an honest heart. Michael finally thought through the steps that led to the separation. The couple spoke on the hurt that comes from this difficult season; Franklin was able to share his divorce story with Michael, informing him that there is hope after the divorce.
Through the kind words of Franklin, Michael realized one thing that he’d been missing: Friendship. Over t he years, Michael kept to himself, where he constantly tried on take on his problems and struggles on his own; he never even spoke to his wife over many of these issues.
“So, let’s do this: let’s met up and work through this together.” Franklin offered. They agreed to get together on Saturdays, a day they were both free. These meetings would be a time to discuss Michael’s issues, the divorce papers and even Michael’s faith. When Michael agreed to met he knew that he was moving toward healing and moving forward with his life.
When the conversation was over, Michael hung up the phone and set the device on the tabletop. His heart was racing with nerves. While he looked down at the phone, which lay on the table, Michael breathed a sigh of relief.
It’s been over a year since I made that call; since Franklin and I began meeting. Our chosen day of meeting has changed a few times but we’ve never miss a week. We now meet Tuesday evenings after we both get off of work.
At first I just wanted to meet with Franklin until the divorce proceedings were over and finalized, yet we are still meeting weekly. By the way, the divorce never happened; I was able to reconcile with Elise. With the guidance and the advice of Franklin, I was able to realize the cracks in our marriage and I was determined to do my part to fix the marriage. Luckily, Elise also made the choice to work on our marriage as well.
I owe so much to Franklin. I am thankful that God has placed him in my life. I am thankful for the fact that Franklin was willing to be the piece of iron that would sharpen me, making me more confident in my marriage and more cognizant of God’s hand on my life.
The truth was: I needed Franklin in my life at that time in my life. I needed his guidance and his source of hope. I was hopeless and Franklin helped build me up. Also, my interactions with the other members of our Tuesday morning Bible study changed over the year; I spoke more honestly amongst the group, and I finally began to build realistic and authentic relationships with the members.
The healing has begun.
DISCLAIMER: The story you are about to read contains graphic violence and sexual situations. I pray that the reader would be able to look at the deeper meaning of the piece as it relates to Beautiful Feet Entertainment. Reader discretion is advised.
The room was dark. The room was very simply decorated; nothing more than a medical bed, a dresser and a wooden rocking chair, sitting next to the bed. Sitting atop of the dresser was an assortment of family pictures of members that are hardly seen in person.
In the medical bed lay an elderly man. His hair is peppered grey and black and curled in an organized tousled look. Framing the elderly man’s face was a peppered beard, which lay on his natural wrinkles, giving the impression of a man who has seen a lot in his long life.
The elderly man ached from internal pain in the gut as he dealt with a terminal cancer as it slowly eats through his system; this disease will surely be his demise.
The bedroom door opened slowly as the face of a familiar face poked through the crack in the doorway. The man in the doorway was a clean shaven man of thirty-five. He wore a freshly-pressed button up shirt, which was a light purple, draping over a clean pair of jeans. The gentleman held a thickly bound Bible in his hand as he approached the bed.
“Hello, Mr. Ray,” The young man said with a smile. “How are you feeling?” He slowly sat in the wooden rocking chair beside the bed. He politely laid the Bible upon his lap although he refused to open it.
“Hello, Pastor Williamson,” The elderly Charley Ray forced out with a hoarse voice. He attempted to lift his head from his pillow and veer his attention toward Pastor Scott Williamson. He smiled at the sight of the friendly thirty-five year old beside him. “It’s good to see you.” He said with a cough.
“It’s good to be here.” Pastor Scott smiled. “How are you feeling, Charley?” He asked, reaching a hand out and gently laying his hand upon the elderly man’s hand. The elderly man lay back in his bed, attempting to relax.
“So, you wanted to me to come by? Your caretaker called me and said you had something to tell me.” The pastor said with genuine smile.
Charley nodded his head in agreement.
“I did it.” The old man spoke weakly.
The pastor’s face twisted with confusion. He looked deep into the elderly man’s eyes, hoping to sense the truth.
“I did it.” The man repeated.
“What are you talking about?” Pastor Williamson asked. Uncertainty distorted his face as the elderly man attempted to explain through bursts of coughing and shortness of breath.
“I did it. I killed them.” Charley coughed.
Pastor Williamson’s expression quickly changed, realizing that his patient may be telling the truth. “What do you mean, ‘you killed them’?” Scott kept his handhold with Charley for reassurance.
“It was….a long time…..ago.” Charley spoke, trying to steady his breathing. “……..never caught, never…..arrested.”
“Are you sure?” The pastor’s face was distorted with confusion as he looked on at his elderly friend of three years.
“I……had to…….confess.” He coughed. “I did it to them all.”
The look of his guest transformed into hysterics at the validity of the news. His mind began to race through a series of thoughts that spanned from fear for his own life to how and when he should call the police. Through process of elimination, Pastor Williamson realized that his life was in no potential danger; therefore he stayed in the room, furthering the conversation.
The conversation continued as Scott remained friendly and polite. He listened to the story of Charley’s past; his wrecked childhood, his broken relationships with his wives and kids and the events that led to his killing spread over twenty years ago. Charley shared the details of the victims; how he found them, how he executed the killings and how he haunted the families of the victims for years after that.
Throughout the confession of the victims Charley’s peppered face became wet with tears and regret. As he recalled the pain that he caused to those families tore his heart and tortured his spirit; he had to talk.
Charley Ray confessed to raping and killing five women within the span of a year. He was never caught; he was never even a suspect in the murders. Often his targets would be young women in between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-two. The victims were usually young wives and mothers, leaving behind their loving husbands and children.
According to reports Charley would often stalk his victims for some time before he would attack them. The incidents before the attacks were usually a series of phone calls to the target’s home where heavy breathing would often be on the other end. On other occasions, Charley would enter the home while it was left vacant, where small objects in the home would either be moved or taken. Charley would often leave behind a mask and rope hidden within or around the home for his inevitable return.
On the night of his return, Charley would sneak into the house in the dead of the night, where he would secure the victim to the bed with the rope. To the surprise of the young woman, a masked Charley would be found leering over the victim. With a calm voice and slowly methodical movements, he would tease his prey. When the tensions were at their highest, Charley would finally attack. First, he would disrobe the victim and proceed to sexually assault the victim, holding a hand over the women’s mouth to keep the silence. Then, as the victim’s movements become more frantic and worried, he would wrap his hands around the victim’s neck, holding tightly, progressing in to a tighter squeeze. As a result of his excitement and the victim’s fear intensifying, Charley’s grip around the sufferer’s mouth and throat would tighten, resulting in the death of the young woman.
At the sight of the young woman’s body lying lifeless on the bed, Charley loosened his grip and returned to standing position beside the bed, leering down at his work. Charley carefully untied the victim, leaving rope burns around the wrists from the victim’s struggle. With the seen cleaned up and evidence collected, Charley vanished into the night, leaving the body of the victim to be discovered.
“A statement from Charley Ray:” A man in a well tailored suit began, holding a printed document in his hand. Standing before the courtroom, the attorney read the document aloud. “My name is Charley Ray. I am fifty-three years old. I am dying from cancer. Before I die, there is something that I need to address. Twenty years ago I began breaking and entering into homes, where I would sexually assault and kill the female owner of the house. In the timeframe of a year, I killed five women.
“At the time of the murders I never thought about the families that I destroyed. I never considered the young children that I left motherless. I never thought of the husbands that I left wifeless. Not once did concern the mothers and father who are now without their daughters.
I am so sorry for what I’ve done. I don’t expect you to forgive me; I don’t expect you to show me any kind of sympathy. I only needed you to know what happened. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done; how I left your lives, the things that I put you through; I wish I could take it all back.
While the defendant read through the elderly man’s confession, tears began forming behind Charley’s eyes, leaving him to wipe the tears from his eyes. Charley remembered every woman that he killed. He remembered every detail of those nights; to the stalking, to the set up, to the actual night of the attack.
Continuing to read the confession, the defendant said:
“I completely expect to die in prison. I do not expect to be spared from the death penalty. I am prepared for face any sentence that I receive. Yet, before I face my fate, I wanted to look the victim’s families in the eye and let them know my regret for my wicked past. I pray that as I face my fate that you all find peace and that you can move on. Once again, I’m sorry; signed, Charley Ray. ”
At the testimony of Pastor Scott Williamson and the confession from Charley Ray, himself, Charley was found guilty of the five murders. Due to his ailments, Charley would rest in his medical wheelchair for the sentencing.
At the news of the capture of their mother’s killer, three of the victim’s adult children came to the hearing. The family member’s were seated at the front of the courtroom and looked into the eyes of the man who took their mother away from them.
They were able to analyze his fragile frame, questioning how such a sickly-faced, frail man could commit such brutalities. Their minds were able to roam though the many nights of their childhood, trying to imagine the monster that killed mommy. They were now looking into the eyes of the man that haunted their nightmares for years.
“Now, before we go into sentencing I have agreed to give the floor to the families of the victims, allowing them to share their thoughts with Mr. Charley Ray.” Judge Marshall Stephens spoke from his benched podium at the front of the courtroom. His round glasses rested on the bridge of his nose as he looked down at the three attendants before him, awaiting their response.
“Uh, yeah,” A young man said to himself, gently raising his hand in the air. The young man’s shabby hair draped low above his eyes. His was dressed in the Sunday’s finest, which consisted of an old black suit and tie. The clothes hung loosely off of his body, indicating that he had lost weight since it was originally purchased. “I’d like to say something.” He directed to the judge, who nodded in agreement.
The shabby haired kid with the bags under his eyes stood before the courtroom. He surveyed the courtroom, which look eerily similar to the courtrooms that any viewer would see on any crime drama TV show. The attorneys and the spectators waited with curiosity aimed at him.
“Uh, yeah, my name is Eric, my mother was Erin Montgomery; do you remember her?” Eric asked, now aiming his dialog at Charley, who looked in from his wheelchair with a look of remembrance. “You killed her the night before my birthday. You left her breathless on the bed, where I found her the next morning. Do you remember that, you sick schmuck? I’m glad that you are confined to that chair. Whatever is eating away at your insides is a godsend! You deserve so much more torture for what you have to done to all of us!” at this point Eric’s tone was irate and angry.
Eric’s eyes were filling with tears of anger. His face was red as he spoke with a heavy intensity. As he spoke, he pointed an index finger toward the wheelchair bound killer. It took everything within him to not physically attack the man that he despised.
“Mr. Montgomery we are going to ask you to try to remain calm while you are in my courtroom.” Judge Stephens ordered with a calm yet firm voice.
Unable to contain himself, Eric balled up a fist and pounded it on the tabletop in front of him. “I can’t not remain calm I am here to ensure that he gets what he truly deserves!” Eric hollered, pointing an unstable finger to Ray.
With a wave of the hand, Judge Stephens ordered the bailiff to escort Eric Montgomery back to his seat to ensure peace in the courtroom.
“Now, I’m Montgomery I understand that tensions are high and that could elicit radical behavior but if your outburst continues than I will have no choice but to banish you from my courtroom.”
A silence fell among the courtroom. Charley Ray remained in his wheelchair refrain from all emotion. He just sat slouched in the chair, eyes surveying the courtroom. With a moment of silence Judge Stephens awaited the response from another progeny of the victims to stand up and address the courtroom.
The room remained silent.
The two remaining survivors of the victims were both females in their early thirties. They were nicely dressed, although they were not dressing for the approval of those in the courtroom. One of the young women had dark hair that was pulled back into an elegant ponytail, which swayed behind her with every move. Her name: Abigail Davies, her mother was, Maureen Davies, Charley Ray’s fourth victim. As Abigail waited in the nearly awkward silence, she looked down at her hands, which were resting in her lap. Simply from observation, it was evident that she wished to speak to the killer of her mother, yet she was unnerved and unable to summon the courage. Although, from the expression on her face it was easy to see that she held resentment and anger deep in the pit of her stomach for the man who destroyed her family.
Every few moments, the dark haired girl looked over at Charley Ray and glared with eyes of angry frustration over the twenty years it took to catch the killer. Abigail was eleven when her mother became a victim of Mr. Ray. Her father, who often traveled for work, happened to be in an entirely different state when his wife was killed. He blamed himself for the murder, which caused him to develop a heavy drinking habit. Due to the drinking, Abigail often raised herself.
Abigail’s anger toward Charley’s crimes propelled her to work toward becoming a defense attorney. She never wanted anyone else to have to go through what she went through as a child.
The third and final witness looked around the room, often looking over to Charley. Her smooth, blonde hair hung around shoulder length. She could sense the tension between Abigail and Charley thickening. Eric sat next to Abigail, his fists balled up in anger at the sight of Charley sitting in the same room as them. Next to Eric was the bailiff, ensuring that there would be no further outburst from any one. Neither Eric nor Abigail seemed to be moved by Charley’s confession letter and the tears that left his cheeks soaked. All they saw was a killer, nothing more.
“Well, since no one else has anything to say…..” Judge Stephens began to speak as he looked down at the manila file folder that lay in front of him.
“Judge, can I say something?” The shoulder-length blonde said, holding a semi-pointed finger to the sky, just parallel to her head. Her face was white with fear as she made eye contact with Judge Stephens.
“Of course you can,” The judge smiled gently. With an open hand, he welcomed her to stand before the courtroom. With a deep breath, she approached the podium. In her hand was a folded piece of paper; a prepared statement for this kind of occasion.
She unfolded the paper, starred down at it and decisively folded it back up and placed it back in her pocket. She surveyed the room before she made eye contact with Charley, who remained in his wheelchair looking on.
“My name is Danielle Snow. My mother was your first victim. I was ten years old when you commit this serious crime. To be honest, I saw you walking through the hallway, approaching her room. You didn’t realize I was there. At first I thought you were just part of my imagination. I tried to convince myself that you were just a shadow that I saw.
“I am of the same mind as Eric and Abigail. I came here to face my fears, to face the man who stole my childhood. I wanted to ensure that you were given the death penalty. I wanted you to pay. That’s what I came here to say to you. Yet, as I’ve been sitting her hearing everyone’s stories and seeing you here. I must say: I feel sorry for you.”
With those words, Charley Ray lifted his eyes to meet Danielle’s. He previously had his eyes pointed toward the floor in shame and embarrassment. With every furthering moment he wished for his sentencing. Yet, he remained shocked at these words.
“I don’t condone what you’ve done, in fact, I despise it. I wish it never happened, but that is something that I can’t change now. All I can do is use this moment to become better, to be a better person. Truth is; I heard your words. I heard the remorse in them. It seems that you truly are sorry. Seeing you now, I see that you’ve grown and you stopped killing. I can see that the truth of your crime has being eating away at you for the past twenty years; it is literally killing you.”
Danielle searched through her mind to perfectly encapsulate the feelings that were swirling within her heart. Looking over to Charley, Danielle’s feelings became complicated. On one hand, Danielle wishes to ensure her mother’s killer gets exactly what he deserves, and on the other hand, she sees Charley as a human who makes mistakes, who makes the wrong choices, who needs something more powerful than hate.
“Although this is hard for me, I see that this is also hard for you. I want to thank you for finally coming clean with your crime and finally facing responsibility for your actions. Lastly, I want to say: I forgive you. I will no longer hold in the hate that I felt for so long. I will no longer wish upon you and I will no longer see you in my dreams. I forgive you. I hope you find peace with yourself and with God. I forgive you.”
Danielle finished her speech to Charley Ray with tears in her eyes. She looked Charley in the eye, as she wiped her face clean. She felt peace settle in her heart. Without another word she sat back down next to Abigail and Eric, both of which seethed with anger at the words that she just spoke, yet she was not bothered by their evil-eye looks.
Charley remained in his chair, his eyes wet with tears. How could anybody forgive him for what he has done? How could she show him compassion with all that he has done to her? He was overwhelmed at the gesture of forgiveness.
Wiping his eyes, Charley turned to look at Danielle. Making eyes contact with her, he mouthed the words “Thank you.” Charley Ray knew his mistakes. He knew he had destroyed lives. He deserved the punishment that he would be sentenced, yet he was offered forgiveness. In the end, that’s all he wanted.
A word from Jessica:
Hi! Welcome to Beautiful Feet Entertainment. Whether you are a first-time visitor to our site, or you are a regular reader, Anthony and I are glad that you took some time out of your busy day to spend some time with us.
So much has happened around here! I am so excited to be able to share it with you. After almost two years of dating, Anthony and I got engaged this past March! I’m Jessica and you can find more of my contributions by looking under the “He said, She said” Tab.
Beautiful Feet Entertainment is expanding! With the help from our friends at Iuniverse.com, Anthony has self published his first book! “The Sanctuary of my Solitude: The thoughts, feelings and life lessons of an imperfect Christian” is a collection of poetry that truly embodies one of our main philosophies, “Life is a beautiful struggle.” His book is currently available through Iuniverse.com and Amazon.com (Keyword search: Anthony Giesick)
Stay tuned for more exciting updates. Feel Free to browse our archived material, and take a look around by navigating the tool bars at the top of your screen. We will be posting brand new material very soon.
Thank you for spending some time with us. We appreciate you!
A Word from Anthony:
Welcome back to Beautiful Feet Entertanment! It's been way too long since I've Spoken to you guys and given you some quality material. Yet, that doesn't mean that I haven't been work on new material, I have.
I am also very excited to announce that Jessica will also be posting on this site with stories, bible studies and videos for you all to enjoy! We will also be working to material together to share with you all. I believe you will truly enjoy it!
Now, I can't forget that I did get the opportunity to self-publish a book of poetry and yes, you can get it at Iuniverse.com and Amazon.com, just search my name, you'll find it!
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So, here’s a story: Recently my girlfriend, Jessica, just moved into a new apartment with a friend of hers. They gathered together, they found the apartment; they packed their belongings and began to move. Obliviously I helped the ladies move from their previous dwelling into the new apartment. The last day of moving into the new apartment, my girlfriend and I moved her tiny kitten to the new place. We packed all of the cat’s toys and her other belongings and we placed the cat into a carrier and we got into the car.
As we drove from her mom’s place, where the cat had previously been living, to the new apartment, Jessica sat in the passenger seat with the carrier resting on her lap. Just as usual, the cat inside the box was anything but restful while we were traveling from place to place. The cat seemed to be panicking and trying to escape the carrier, unsure what was going around it. As we headed down the road, anyone could see that the cat was scared and unhappy about its current situation.
“It’s ok, Itty Bitty Kitty. Mommy loves you.” Jessica reassured the cat, trying to calm the animal in the carrier. This was to no avail. “Mommy will protect you and take care of you.” She continued to attempt to calm her pet.
While I’m driving and hearing these lovely words from an animal owner to a loved family pet, I began to think of how this was often a perfect metaphor for our walk with Jesus.
Let’s break it down:
In the situation of the car ride with the cat, there are numerous parallels to our spiritual lives as believers. First off, Itty Bitty Kitty as it is often referred to, even though it has another name entirely, was living in a place that had quickly become its home where it was comfortable. In a single moment, Itty Bitty was pulled from that home and placed in a small box for transport. This carrier has never been a comfort place for the feline, not because the cat is too big for the box, but due to the fact that cat did not like the enclosed area.
Secondly, Itty Bitty was put in a car and transferred to a new place. One could imagine that this is very confusing and frightening for the cat because it doesn’t know where it is going or what it is doing within the carrier that it despises so much. Not to mention that anyone could imagine that the cat realizes that it is also moving, yet it does not know where it is or where it is going. If a cat is capable of deep thoughts of introspection, one would that Itty Bitty Kitty’s thought would actually mirror that of a person being blind folded and napped.
This whole time the cat is upset and clawing as the carrier and sticking its paws and claws out of the carrier, hoping for escape, still uncertain of the purpose for this moment. While the cat is clearly not taking this transition well, the owner of the cat, in this case, Jessica, understands the cat’s fear, but also know that the final outcome with be better for the feline in the end. Just because the kitten is put through this difficult situation, that does not mean that the owner does not love and care for the cat. In fact, in many cases the opposite is true.
How does this relate to our spiritual walk?
We are the cat. Too often we are removed from our comfort zone, either by circumstance or by God speaking to our hearts, and we are placed in the epitome of uncomforting thoughts and confusion. Truthfully when we are faced with these challenges, we do not see them as challenges that allow us to grow, but we see them as a cruel game. In those times we struggle to understand what caused this change in our lives. This may mean that we look internally and discover our actions that may have caused this, but more often than not, we blame our circumstances on other people, or this unconceivable notion of “bad luck” or we blame God.
Due to our dislike for these situations that we may find ourselves in, we act out and we often unleash. This reaction is due to the mind trying to understand the circumstance as well as the cause and yet, finding nothing.
While we struggle with our uncomfortable surroundings, God can be found with us saying, “It’s okay. I’m with you. I love you. I will protect you. I will guide you.”
The Bible reminds us that God often encourages His children with words like “Don’t be afraid.” The average reader can also find parables of Jesus informing the disciples that storms will enter into our lives, and in order to navigate through them, we need God to guide us and protect us. Yet, much like Itty Bitty Kitty, we are unable to see passed the circumstance, the carrier, to see the bigger purpose in it.
Just like the cat’s owner, God knows that this difficult situation is only temporary and what is coming in the near future is better for us and it will be better to us, but first, we need to grow through the difficult times.
We need to trust God through the difficult times. We need to begin to see the difficult times as a challenge for God to strengthen us and guide us to better versions of ourselves. God has a great plan for us; a plan that will benefit us and, more importantly, glorify Him. All we have to do is submit to the process that God has perfectly developed to make us stronger and better.
I pray that God will give us the grace to do that.
The Missing Ring
Two years ago
The atmosphere was gentle and laid back, the perfect atmosphere for a good time. The small club was filled with young adults looking for a good time; a time to unwind from the stressful week that is now passed them. The live band set the mood with their music that was easy listening, yet easy to dance to. The middle of the large room was used as a dance floor, where young adults would meet and dance together, hoping to find a connection. Outside of the dance floor was an arrangement of tables and dining booths, were the guests can converse and enjoy each other’s company.
A young man maneuvered through the dance floor, as if he were looking for someone that he recognized. The young man was nicely dressed in a light blue button-up shirt that was draped over a clean pair of blue jeans and pair of black formal dress shoes. While looking around, the young man sipped on the drink that resided in his right hand.
Okay, this is uncomfortable. The young man thought to himself, taking a sip of his drink. I guess I should just sit down. I feel foolish standing in the middle of the dance floor. The young man made his way away from the dance floor and took a seat at a nearby table that just happened to be empty. He took another sip of his drink, hoping to not look too out of place.
I feel so out of place here. I don’t belong here.
The young man scanned the dance floor. He looked over the appearances of the dancers while they moved to the rhythm of the live band. The small club was filled with very attractive people, all of whom were dressed in their nicest clothes. This was the best way to show your best side which increases ones chances of being noticed by a fellow dancer.
While scanning the crowd, the young man analyzed the appearance of every female in his eyesight’s path, trying to gather an idea of their personalities, hoping to find a young lady that he could meet and make a connection with. All of the women in the club wore tight dresses that frame their best bodily assets.
Even if I see someone I want to talk to that doesn’t mean that I’d be able to talk to them. The young man thought to himself as he still scanned the room for the perfect person to talk to. His eyesight left the agenda of scanning the crowd and met with the doorway. Maybe I should leave. I don’t need to be here. I don’t belong here.
Finishing the last of his drink, the young man set the glass down on the table and looked toward the bar, which was across the room, next to the exit. Sitting at the end of the bar was a very attractive woman in a low-cut red dress. As she sipped in her own drink their eyes met. She smiled at the young man. He smiled back at her.
He looked her over and smiled even wider. He was mesmerized by her appearance and her gaze. Her bright red lips parted in a pleasant smile. Without ever speaking a word she seemed to be communicating to the young man who sat at the table across the room.
With a silent tone the woman mouthed the word, “Hi,” to the young man. The young man returned the greetings with his own silent speak. The young man stood to his feet and made his way to the woman in the tight red dress.
“Hello,” She said with a smile.
“Hey,” He returned.
“I’m glad you came over.” She said gliding a single finger around the rim of her glass. She never broke her gaze on the young man.
“Yeah, I was thinking of leaving, but….” He began to explain; he searched to find the right words as he shuffled nervously.
“Then it’s a good thing that I saw you.”
The two began a conversation instantly. Within moments the conversation moved from average small talk to the couple getting to know each other further. With everything the young man shared, the woman was intently engaged. With every opportunity, she would use a variety of body language techniques to further the conversation along.
“Well, I’d better head home.” The beautiful woman said, standing to her feet.
“Well, were do you live?” The young man asked who also stood to his feet.
“Not too far from here,” She said. Her gaze was intense and passionate. She smiled at the young man.
“Can I walk you home?” He asked with a shy smile.
“That would be great.” She responded.
The two of them headed for the exit side-by-side. As they entered the night air, a chill brushed against their skin, adding a layer of goose bumps to the skin. The young man shoved his hands into his pockets to keep them warm. His female companion walked close to him. Their shoulders often rubbed together as they made their way down the street.
The couple found themselves filling the time with more small talk and even deeper conversation as they walked through the dark street under the moon-lit sky. They both enjoyed each other’s company.
The young man felt the smooth touch of the woman’s fingertips gliding against his wrist. He removed his fist from his pocket and the two hands soon found themselves entangled in an intimate handhold.
“Well, here we are.” The woman in the red dress said, pointing to the building to her left. “This is my place.” They stood next to a tall building of apartments.
“Well, I’m glad I met you. It was a pleasure.” The young man said smiling shyly. He had lost his grip on her hand and shoved his hand back into his front pocket.
“Thank you for walking me home.” She said with a seductive smile.
“You’re welcome,” Before he could finish his thought the woman in the red dress leaned in and kissed the young man. He embraced the kiss as the kiss grew more passionate between them.
The couple parted lips, leaving a few inches between them. She smiled at him. He returned with a smile of his own.
“Would you like to come up to my place?” She asked, her gaze penetrating his own.
“Y-Yes,” He said in a light tone.
Her smile grew seductive at she looked deeper into his eyes.
Six months ago
“Son, let me tell you something.” A peppered haired male spoke to the young adult sitting across the table from him. The two of them sat in a darkened room. The dim light from the TV illuminated the room in a light glow. The room was filled with other occupants that were enjoying the company of friends and family over drinks and meals.
The young man looked up to his father as if he were thinking, “I already know what you’re going to say.” The young man realized that his father had invited him out in order to have a serious discussion with his son.
“Yeah,” The young man said to his father, looking him in the eyes. The father took a final drink of his beer before he began.
“I know what you’re doing. I know what you’re going through.” The father tried to start, unsure what to say. “I mean, I see what’s going on. You’re exploring. You’re trying to learn who you are and you’re trying to learn what you want.”
“What do you mean? I don’t understand.” The young man asked his father. The young man’s demeanor transformed from resentment for his father’s words to curiosity about his father’s words.
“I’ve been where you are in life. I used to do this too.” The father continued as he took another sip of his drink.
“Okay, I’m lost.” The young man said, confused.
“The women, son,” The father added firmly. “I see how you have been treating them. Every time I see you, you have another woman with you.”
“I don’t see why that matters to you.” The son shot back to his father. “I’m nothing doing anything wrong. I just enjoy their company.”
“Oh, I know. I’ve used to enjoy their company too. Yet, I had to learn. I learned that it never made me happy. I only hurt myself and I hurt the ladies as well.” The father tried to explain, realizing that his son’s eyes had glazed over, indicating that he was no longer listening to the words of his father.
“I am happy.” The young man retorted.
“Are you?” The father asked, taking yet another drink. “That’s good. I don’t think it’s going to last though. It never does.”
There was a long silence between the two.
“I just don’t want you to get hurt.” The father reassured his son.
“I won’t. I’m fine.” The young man replied with short statements filled with spite.
“Son,” the mentally exhausted father continued, unwilling to give up on his son. “Your mother and I always taught you that there are predators in this world, both men and women. They both take advance of each other. They both hurt each other. We just don’t want you to become one of them.”
“I’m not.” The son said.
“There are a lot of great women out in this world, but the path that I see you on will lead you to the predator, or the harlot; the type of women who will lure you into her life just to hurt you and take everything that you have to offer. They will do this regardless of how it hurts you.”
“Dad, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’ll be fine.” The young man stood to his feet and walked out of the restaurant, leaving his father sitting in the booth, alone.
The father bowed his head in prayer as he sat at the table alone. His face was distorted with the look of concern for his son.
One year ago
The couple entered into a nicely decorated house that was decorated with nice furniture, which showed that the occupant was well-established and organized. The lights were flicked on, illuminating the apartment in a bright light.
The couple kissed once again.
“Go ahead and make yourself at home on the couch, I’ll be there in a minute.” The woman in the red dress said, leading the young man to the living room.
“Okay,” The young man responded in a quiet whisper.
After a moment, the woman entered the living room with two drinks in her hand. She was dressed in a seductive robe that was tied at the waist only tight enough to cover her body. The young man looked at her with amazement and excitement. With a single glimpse, the young man did not need to imagine what his partner was wearing beneath the robe.
He took the drink that was offered to him and took a sip of the beverage. The drink was something that he had never tasted before, yet he instantly liked it. The robed woman sat next to the young man, leaning into his shoulder.
The couple’s eyes met. She smiled. He smiled.
“We didn’t come up here just to sit on the couch. Don’t you want to see what I’m wearing for you?” She said with a seductive smile as she led her hand down the opening of her robe to the lightly tied knot at her waist. With a gentle hand, she allowed the knot to untie, causing her robe to loosen.
“Hello, beautiful.” The young man said in reaction.
The couple kissed.
Six months ago
The young man angrily entered the house of his parents. With a slam of the door, he entered in his old bedroom and lay on the bed. The words of his father filled his mind, filling him with a swirl of emotion and confusion.
Is everything that my dad said right? Am I mistreating these women? Why am I doing this? Why does it matter? Who is it hurting? I’m not hurting anyone! I’m just living my life! I really like these girls. What does my dad know anyway?
The young man remained on the bed, lying on his back. His head hung over the edge of the bed. The young man’s hands were stretched over his forehead, shoving his hair back off of his forehead.
The young man’s eyes were filling with tears. The young man had a heart of gold, therefore he hating the idea of ever hurting anyone. His father knew this; this was the meaning of the meeting that the young man angrily ran out of.
My father says that I’m lost. My father says that I’ll be mistreated by a woman, a harlot. Is this true? But I haven’t mistreated anybody! Am I truly lost? Was my father right? I’m sorry!
The young man thought of the various women that he has met and dating in his recent years. He began to rethink their encounters and their relationships. He thought through his various sexual encounters, realizing that these encounters are very harmful.
“I’m sorry!” The young man cried aloud. His face was red and wet from tears. With every gasp of breathe between tears, the young man wiped the tears from his cheeks only to be replaced by new puddles of tears.
“It’s okay,” A familiar voice uttered from behind the young man. The young man looked towards the door, where his father stood. “Look son, I didn’t mean to offend you. I just needed you to know what I saw. I needed you to know about my past as well.”
“I need help.” The young man said through his tears. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
“It’s okay, son, I know that you didn’t even know that you were hurting anyone. You were just doing what too many people do at your age. It is a time of our age that we truly need to change.”
“I guess I never really understood the effect of those actions.” The young man suggested. He wiped a final puddle of tears off of his face. “What do I do now?”
The young man awoke, lying in a strange bed, in a room that did not belong to him, in a state of mind that he did not recognize. Sitting up in the bed, the young man wiped the morning crust from his eyes while he looked around the room.
“Hello?” The young man spoke in groggy, early morning voice. His eyes shifted around the room, looking for any resemblance of another person. There was nothing.
The room was brightly lit by the sunshine, which peered in though the window just across the bed. The bedroom was nicely decorated, as was the living room and the rest of the house, yet, the bedroom was decorated with very light colors, giving it a very comforting feeling. Yet, the young man didn’t feel comforted.
The young man’s stomach was tied in a knot as he thought through the actions of the previous night. He thought through each kiss, each embrace, and each unholy act. As the thought journeyed through his mind, his stomach became more and more uneasy.
“Oh God, what did I do?” The young man thought to himself, laying his head back in disbelief. “I guess I better get out of here.” The young man pulled himself from the comforts of the bed and looked at the floor for his scattered clothes. Piece by piece his collected his clothes, ensuring that he had everything that belonged to him. As he collected an article of clothing, he would put it on: first, he reached for his pants, which he pick up off of the floor and shoved his legs into the leg holes, one leg at a time. Next, he grabbed his white T-shirt that he wore underneath his blue button up shirt.
“Well, it looks like all of stuff is…..”The young man’s voice trailed off. With his blue button up shirt hanging from his fist, the young man looked up from the floor with a shocked look on his face. “Wait, where is my…..”
The young man patted his back pocket, where the average man keeps their wallet. There was nothing there. The young man patted his pocket yet again, there was nothing there. He checked his other pockets quickly, yet again, nothing was found.
In a panic the young man pulled the bedroom door open. He was greeted with more bright lights, not only from the natural light of the sun, but from the florescent lights that were left on.
“Well, hello.” A sweet voice said from the brightly illuminated kitchen. The young man, still holding his button up shirt in his fist, turned his attention to the lovely lady in the kitchen. It was the lady in the red dress except without the red dress, but a lightly flowing robe covering her body.
“I was just going to wake you,” she added, looking at the already dressed young man. “Are you leaving?”
“I-I thought you were gone.” He managed to reply, still confused at the situation at hand. “Hey, you would happen to know where my wallet is, would you.” His stomach was filled with butterflies at the sheer utterance of the question. A question he’d hoped he never had to ask.
“Yeah, it’s right here.” She responded, pointing to the leather billfold lying on the counter. “I think you set it there last night.” She added.
“Why would I do that?” He thought to himself. He felt a heavy weight lift off of his shoulders as he grabbed the wallet and shoved it into the back pocket of his pants.
“How about you have a seat, I’ll bring you some coffee.” The lovely lady requested, turning her back to the young man. Soon she returned to the young man, joining him on the couch.
The two made eye contact, but his eyes quickly shifted down, taking another look at her body; the body that had enthralled him from their first encounter. With his eyes still shifting over her body, his stomach turned over, becoming more upset than it was earlier this morning.
She leaned in to greet him with a kiss. He pulled away.
“We need to stop.” He whispered to himself with eyes that were glazed over.
“What?” She asked for clarification, pulling away from him.
“We need to stop. We can’t do this anymore.” He spoke up, finally looking at her through clear vision.
“We’ve got to stop what?” She asked with a stern look on her face.
“This! We have to stop whatever this is!” He proclaimed, pulling himself off of the couch. She quickly jettisoned to her feet to see him face-to-face.
“What are you…?” She began to ask.
“Where is your husband?” He interjected without letting her finish her question. The question caught her off guard. She thought; unsure that she ever remembered mentioning her husband. She looked down at her left hand, focusing on the third finger, the ring finger. It was encircled with a tan line that outlined the placement of a wedding ring, a wedding ring that she had removed more times than she could count.
“Who says I don’t have a husband?” She retorted.
“Look, we have been doing this for over two years. We meet at the same place, at the same time. We have sex and then we don’t speak until the next meeting.” She seemed surprised at his sudden outburst of accusations.
“You can’t tell me you’re not enjoying it.” She responded, keeping the seductive smile on her face. She wrapped her arms right below her bust.
“You’re right, I’ve enjoyed it. To be completely honest with you, I yearn for it, but I’ve realized something; this is not living.”
“This is exactly what living is; no thoughts, nothing tying you down, just raw lust and desire. It’s natural.”
“It’s death.” He spat back. “Neither of us is putting into this relationship, it’s not growing the way relationships are meant to grow…”
“Relationships are too restricting. I’m looking for freedom. ”
“Since you’re looking for freedom, then go back to your husband. You’ll realize you had freedom with him the whole time.”
He pulled himself away from her attempts to embrace him and moved away. She seemed in shock over his boldness.
“Since I met you, since we’ve starting this affair, I haven’t been the same.”
“Yeah, you’ve grown into quite the man” She swiftly looked over his body, allowing her thoughts to roam free.
“I’ve become a coward. I’ve be treating all ladies like….like….well, like the way you treat me; like a toy. I would not take their thoughts, their feeling or their wants into consideration. I would have sex with them and left them with the pain and broken lies. They were just place holders until I got to be with you, the actual person I wanted to be with.”
For the first time her expression went from seductive to a look of realization. She unfolded her arms and tightened the robe around her body. It was as if she heard very shocking and devastating news.
“I guess I never really told you, but our time together was about more than just sex, at least until the sex started. I wanted to know you more than just being the lady in the red dress, but the only thing that you were interested was sex.” He finally flung the button up shirt over his arms and began buttoning it up.
She sat back on the couch, still wearing the shocked look on her face.
“Like I said, go back to your husband, and love him the way that he deserves. We are done. It’s time that we both begin living.”
*Inspired by Proverbs chapter 7
My thoughts of the Fourth of July
While at church this past weekend, the pastor asked a simple question: "When you think of the Fourth of July, what do you think of?" Now, this seems like a straightforward question with a variety of answers, such as, fireworks, freedom, and possibly the fight for our freedom. As I thought through this question, I began to think of the formally oppressed. Those whose ancestors were enslaved and imprisoned unjustly. While for millions of American think of July fourth a national holiday of freedom for our country, not all of our American brothers and sisters will have the same memory and heart-warming thoughts.
In order to fully celebrate this holiday, we must fully understand that while all men are created equal, not all men are treated equally. Therefore, I must ask: to those who were once, or are currently enslaved to this country, what are their initial thoughts of this national holiday?
Throughout the morning I allowed these thoughts to course through my mind, where I found myself reading the manuscript, "What to the slave is the Fourth of July?" By Frederick Douglass. This was a speech that was given by Frederick Douglass in July 1852.
In this speech, Douglass addresses the facts that at the time that the United States was formed it was formed out of a need of correcting a wrong doing. For instance, when the United States forefathers reside in England, they saw the unjust actions of the English government. They persevered through hardships and founded their own country. Now, It is the United States that has a developing list of wrongdoings that need to be addressed and fixed; most notably slavery.
In response to the creation of the country and the inheritance of the forefathers, Douglass wrote; "I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me."
While we, as Americans, would like to think that all can rejoice in this holiday, celebrating freedom for all, it should come as not surprise that many cannot without deep brokenness in their hearts. Too often one's history provides obstacles and roadblocks on the road to fully celebrating freedom. This is a history that is too often ignored and not approached with an open heart.
Frederick Douglass explains that while the American country was created by brave men trying to do right, the national holiday doesn't belong to everyone who can be called American.
"The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn."
Frederick Douglass continues:
"Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them."
While we rejoice over our freedom, many more mourn the lost of freedom and the welcome the misuse, beatings and destructions of families and cultures. In order to fully understand and celebrate this holiday, we need must also hold to the understanding that these feelings are not gone. I truly believe that many of our brothers and sisters in American carry these feelings of oppression with them everyday. We rejoice over our freedom, our brothers and sisters mourn over their loss of freedom in our current day in culture.
Frederick Douglass gives this answer to the overall question:
"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim."
A constant victim? That phrase brings sadness to my heart. It brings sorrow to my heart because I know that this is a reality that extends well beyond the writings of Frederick Douglass into our seemingly divided culture of 2017. While our country has made a lot of change over the last 100 plus years, we still have so much to learn as a country.
Since there is so much pain in our country's history that we inevitably brought on to ourselves, it is up to the very oppressors to lead the way to finding a solution; a path that will lead by the true believers of the church. Yet, the church is not innocent in this blood-stained history of ours.
"But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters."
Frederick Douglass continues:
"At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance, and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness."
It seems over the history of the church, as well as our country, we have turned a blind eye to the inflictions of the oppressed, the same ones that we oppressed. We did not speak truth in moments were truth was needed. We turned a blind eye to justice because it was too much of an inconvenience to help those who need help. By not speaking and turning a blind eye, we created the American that we all know today; an America of brutality and oppression.
Frederick Douglass speak as this in regards to the churches function on the oppressed as well as the churches operations amongst themselves:
"The fact that the church of our country, (with fractional exceptions), does not esteem “the Fugitive Slave Law” as a declaration of war against religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy, is a curse, not a blessing to mankind."
As a churchgoer and a fellow human being, the question is what do we do next? How can we reconnect with those that feel disconnected to the community that they deserve to belong to. Due to the fact that we are all inherently American, we should be able to treat all peoples that we encounter as equals, regardless of their race, culture or any other object of deviation.
The other really important is: Is that all that it takes? We just live our lives and treat each other with respect and the world will instantly become a better place? No!
As is the case with most issues that surround individuals, there is a much deeper issue at hand; one's views and experiences. It seems that we can't just treat people with respect and suddenly hundreds of years of oppression and slavery just vanishes from the history books.
I believe that one of the most impactful ways to bridge this gap that many may feel during these celebrations of freedom is to acknowledge the differences of experiences that we all face in the history of our country that we call home. In times of division we need to fight to stay unified through communication, even through the tough discussions.
Ask questions, yet do not forget to listen to the experiences and opinions that are shared. Yet, there is more to creating unity in our country than just asking a multitude of questions and listening; we have to learn to take action in steps of reconciliation.
We will be the most effectiveness in reconciling, first, by admitting our fault in the division that we face everyday. For instance, maybe division is cause within our community due to race. That division is man-made. That division is created by ignorance and complacency amongst all involved. Another division that occurs often is the division of sex, whether that be gender or sexual orientation. This too, is man-made. This division is created through steps of misunderstanding and lack of listening.
The truth is we are all different. That is the beautiful truth of the world that we live in. That truth is the beautiful truth that resides in the individuals that call this country home. We are not meant to be all the same, not by the God who created us. We all have different experiences that we can benefit from when we take the time to see all peoples as our family, our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. When we see a family where the members have something to teach us we can learn from their differences in views and experiences, then we can see the faults of our community and in return we will see the journey that our country has taken.
We have grown as a country and we have learned a lot, yet we still have a lot to learn. It is best for us to trust God with our whole hearts as we tread through these difficult times. We can not ignore these difficult topics, we need to seek answers for them, and in order to do that we need each other. So, in this time of celebrating America's independence, we must seek healing of past wounds and extend a hand of friendship to all those who feel disconnected from this particular holiday.
“We need it alive.”
The room was dark. Darkened silhouettes stood around the room, their faces shielded by the darkness. The room was empty, yet not absent of feelings. It felt familiar, as if they had all been in there before. It had become home for so many.
Four silhouettes stood in a circle, engaging in the quiet whispers of problem solving. They looked through a class window that shown into a medical room, just over a young man lying on a medical bed. The young man lay shirtless with a number of small censors placed around his stomach and around his head.
“We must continue to study it. We have got to find a solution.” One of the male silhouettes said to the other three. He was an older gentleman with a bald head and glasses. A thin white goatee encircled his mouth. He shoved his fists into the pockets of his white lab coat. The three remaining silhouettes nodded in agreement.
“Sir, we…we’ve been studying it for months and we found nothing.” A blonde haired female said nervously to the man with his fists shoved into his pockets of his lab coat. She pressed her glasses to the top of her nose, allowing her eyes to look through the spectacles. As she spoke the words, she could feel hopelessness wash over her. She was ready to give up.
“We need to find the solution.” He repeated to the group. His voice filled with more determination. “There is something different about this one. There is a reason that it is surviving when everyone else is….”He couldn’t finish his sentence. It was too much. It sounded so sinister.
“Doctor,” Another female silhouette said, getting the doctor’s attention. His fists still balled up in the packets of his lab coat. She was dark hair, with her hair pulled back into a pony tail, leaving a strand of her hair to frame the either side of her face. “We’ve tried everything. We’ve been monitoring its brainwaves the entire time. We’ve tried putting it under great distress. We’ve tried tapping into its dreams, I’m not sure we can finish.” She continued in a strong-willed voice.
“Sir, every time we put it under distress we notice the heart rate speed up, but it doesn’t seem to stay that way, within moments the patient is fine. It’s always like nothing every happened.” The last of the nameless silhouettes spoke up. He was a male with short brown hair. In his hand was a clip board will a small stack of printed paper clipped to it. These papers are most certainly the numerous test results on their test subject.
“What about during the days? When the patient is active and awake? What does it do?” The head doctor said to his other three associates. He pulled his fists from his packet and gestured toward the clip board. The young man handed it over to him and he quickly thumbed through the various pages.
“He….it doesn’t leave his room. It doesn’t exercise. All it does is read and kneel at his bedside.” The blonde female doctor reported to the lead. She looked down at the floor, unable to look into the eyes of the lead doctor.
“Is the patient happy?” The lead doctor asked without lifting his eyes from the test results on the clip board.
“It shows no emotion. I mean, it’s not void of express, there is just no definitive emotion.” The second female doctor reported. “It’s like the patient’s content.”
“Hmmm,” The lead doctor hummed to himself. “That’s odd. Most of the people that have been here as long as this one has would usually show signs of giving up, such as sadness, depression, or even harmful thoughts of suicide; yet, not this one. It’s like its holding on to someone, or something. There is something that’s giving the patient hope.”
“That’s what we’re saying, sir. Usually at this point, the isolation creates craziness in our patients.” The young male doctor thought aloud.
“Doctor Napier, has there been any communication to the outside?” The lead doctor wondered.
“None,” The young male answered, attempting to look the lead doctor in the eyes, but finding no success as the lead doctor kept his gaze on the test results.
“Doctor Quinn, have the tests been traumatizing enough?”
“It….it grows more devastating every day.” The blonde female doctor said with a forced smile as she pushed her large-rimmed glasses up the arch of her nose.
“And there’s no sign of insanity?”
“Not a one.” She frowned.
“Doctor Selena, what does he dream about?”
“It varies, sir, but it always revolves around the things that were left behind.” The second female doctor answered as she brushed a strand of her dark hair behind her ear.
“That’s odd. Nobody’s come to visit since the day that it stepped into our doorway. Why is the patient still thinking of them? What is it holding on to?” The lead doctor thought to himself taking a step closer to the window that framed the hopeful patient’s bed. “Well, keep increasing our studies; eventually we will break this patient’s strength and hope. Eventually we will find the solution.” He walked away.
“Hi, honey.” A young woman entered into well-lit room. Her face was painted with a joyous smile. She was dressed comfortably in a pair of ladies pajamas and a white T-shirt. Her auburn colored hair was pulled into a lovely, yet messy bun.
“How are you, honey?” She asked as she sat on the bed, next to her love. She flop the thick comforter over her legs. In her second hand she held a coffee cup with steam escaping the top. She slowly sipped the hot beverage.
“Hmmm, I’m great.” The man answered her, looking into her fiery auburn eyes. “It’s great to see you this morning.” He whispered into her ear. “How are you, my love?”
He sat up in his bed, revealing a black tank top shirt and a pair of sweat pants. He rubbed his face with the palm of his hands numerous times in order to fully wake up. The room was light and welcoming with lightly colored walls and lightly colored pillows and bed comforters that corresponded with the color scheme of the walls. Although he knew that he was not the one who decorated the room, he loved it. He felt at home.
With a clinched fist, he pulled the comforter off of his legs and rotated, leaving his feet dangling off of the edge of the bed. His feet met the tiled floor. He laid his elbows on his knees and bowed his head. He could still feel his wife smiling at him from behind him.
“Thank you, God. I get to see another day. Thank you for my wondrous wife. Thank you for your love and grace. I am thankful for your plan. I pray that you would bless me with the strength and the patients in order to best glorify you today. I pray you’d be with my wife and protect her and guard her with all that she does today. I am very thankful.” With his elbows on his knees, he prayed. With each word uttered he knew he was being led and empowered. He could feel the fingertips of his wife glide down his arms, wrapping her arms gently around his neck. She joined him in prayer.
“Your words empower us. Your Spirit guides us. We are able to push all fear and anxiety from our lives in your name, Heavenly Father. All that we face we can face due to the fact that you go ahead of us, LORD. I pray that you would be with us today, LORD; in Jesus’ name, amen.”
“Thank you, honey.” The thankful wife whispered through a smile into her husband’s ear. “I appreciate it that you always pray for me.” She tightened her grip around him. He smiled.
“You’re welcome, honey.” He stroked his fingertips down her arm in pleasure. “I’ve got to shower. We’ve got a lot to do today.” He lifted himself off of the bed and walked around the tiled floor toward an open door at the opposite side of the room. “It’s going to be a great day.”
“Doctor Napier, how does the patient’s heart rate look?” Asked the blonde haired doctor with the large-rimmed classes; which slid down to the tip of her nose.
“He looks normal.” The young doctor responded looking down at the clip board in his hand. He thumbed through the variety of pages that lay clipped on the board. Let’s take a look at him now.” He added.
“Don’t call it, ‘He’. The doctor says that means that you’re getting attached.” Doctor Quinn responded, pushing her glasses back up the arch of her nose. The two of them began to walk down a long, well-lit hallway toward the patient’s room. “We must keep all personal emotions away from the patients.” She added.
“How’s he….It doing?” Doctor Napier asked the female doctor that was already observing the patient. Doctor Napier and Doctor Quinn entered into the room, standing side-by-side with the third doctor.
“The patient is kneeling down at the foot of his bed.” She answered; turning to meet the eyes of the entering doctors’. Her left hand was buried into the pocket of her lab coat while her right arm cradled another clip board under her armpit.
“Get it ready, we’ve got testing starting in five minutes.” Commanded Doctor Napier as he swiftly turned away and exited the room.
“Yes, sir, I already know.” Doctor Selena responded, turning her head toward the door that Doctor Napier exited out, her ponytail swinging back and forth.
“AHHHH!” the Patient yelled to the sky. He lay atop of a metal medical table. With a rounded censor pressed on either side of his chest, underneath his arms and one on each side of his head. With the single push of a button, electricity is sent through the red and blue wires into the Patient’s body through the circular censors.
“I know you’re thinking of them.” A voice echoed out of series of speakers installed into the roof of a brightly lit, clean medical room. The young man looked around for the source of the mysterious voice, yet he only was white walls. There were no visible doorways or double-sided, double pane windows for anybody to hide behind. “Let’s be honest, they’ve forgotten about you. You have been missing for too long. They’ve moved on.”
“Come on, break!” Doctor Selena said under her breath, behind a sinister smile as she pressed the trigger button again. She watched the experiment from a monitor in another room. Tiny cameras were hidden within the room with the patient, invisible to the naked eye. She loved hearing the Patient yell from the pain. “Now, it’s time that you talk.” With each press of the button, the more Doctor Selena smiled out of enjoyment.
“What are you holding on to?” The speaker spoke with the same mysterious voice to the young man on the table. The young man was fastened to the table with large belts, keeping him from wiggling free from the electrical pulses coursing through his nearly naked body. “What is there to hope in?”
The trigger was pressed again.
The body wiggled and convulsed in agonizing pain. The young man clamped his jaw shut intensely, trying to endure the continuous pay. With every increasing moment, the pain grew more excruciating. Every time the trigger was pressed, the electricity increased, creating burns and boils on the skin of the patient; leaving him highly disfigured.
“You’re forgetting their faces, aren’t you?” The mysterious voice in the speaker continued. “You’re h trying to picture them. You’re trying to remember them, yet you’re realizing that soon you will forget, the way that they’ve forgotten you.
“No,” The Patient spoke to himself as the electricity surged through his torso; creating yet another layer of burns on his skin.
“You…..have…….no……idea.” The patient spoke through gripped teeth. “You will……never figure…..you will never know what……. I know.” Each word was followed by deep breaths as he struggled to speak from the pain.
“I will, soon enough.”
The trigger was pressed again. The Patient cried in agony.
Doctor Quinn stood next to her, slightly wincing with each shock to the Patient’s body. “You’re new here. Don’t worry, you’ll learn to love it soon enough.” Doctor Selena said to Doctor Quinn, pressing the button once again.
The Patient screamed in agony.
“Daddy,” A young girl called excitedly from the kitchen table. She spun her head around, her stringy dirty-blonde hair tossing through the air. She had a small spoon gripped tightly in her right hand, cereal and milk pouring from the spoon back into the bowl.
“Good morning, beautiful.” The man with the black tank-top and the grey sweatpants said as he emerged from the bedroom into the living area. He looked ahead to the dining and kitchen area. “How are you?” He asked, still wiping the sleep from his eyes. He yawned and stretched his arms out as he headed toward the kitchen table.
“I’m happy.” The young child said through large bites of cereal and milk. As she brought the spoonful of cereal to her mouth, the milk spilled off of the back of the spoon as she tilled the spoon upward toward her mouth.
“Have you said your prayers?” He asked the young girl, grabbing a clean cereal bowl and sitting next to her at the kitchen table. He soon realized that there was no boxes cereal on the table and his bowl remained empty. He stood from the table and headed to the kitchen to grab the cereal box.
“Mhmm hmmm,” The little girl responded with a shake of the head, cereal swishing around in her mouth.
“Let’s pray.” He requested of his daughter. The little girl dropped her spoon into the milk-filled cereal bowl and folded her hand together and closed her eyes. “God, thank you for this food that we have received; we are very thankful for it. Thank you for waking my beautiful daughter, Emily, up. I am very thankful to have her in my life. I pray that your spirit would be with us today. Amen.”
“Daddy, you have someone who wants to see you.” The beautiful auburn haired wife said holding a tiny child in her arms. The four month old glared around the room with his fist shoved in his mouth.
“There’s my boy.” The man at kitchen table said as he once again stood from the table and walked to his wife. He plucked the infant from her hand and embraced his gently. “How are you, Brian? Yeah? That’s great! It’s great to see you.” He expressed through his son’s gurgles of joy.
“I Love you.”
“Have we learned anything about it, yet?” The doctor with the bald head and glasses asked his four associates. They stood in a line at the window that peered into the patient’s room. They looked intently into the room, observing the patient.
The room was well-lit, yet felt dark and cold. It was lifeless. The walls were bright white, nearly neon. The room was empty of all, except a metal-framed bed covered in bright white linins. Being in this room for a few moments would cause nausea in anybody, much less living in this nausea inducing medical room.
The Patient lay on the metal medical bed, his hands clinched tight and resting on his forehead. He wore a long hospital nightgown and grey flowing robe. The Patient moved his lips in silence, as if he were whispering to himself.
“Nothing new, sir,” Dr. Napier replied, looking down at the papers on his clip board. “We’ve increased our testing and we’ve increased our intensity and nothing has changed.”
“Hmmm,” The Doctor pondered with his hand placed at the edge of his chin. “Have we brought in the outsides?”
“We…..We haven’t, sir. We know that it thinks of them often. We…….we’ve brought them into conversation while we test it, but we haven’t shown them.” Dr. Quinn responded with slight hesitation. She looked back at The Doctor, who stood behind her.
“Hmmm……Let me talk to the patient.” The Doctor thought aloud.
The room was well-lit, yet felt dark and cold. It was lifeless. The walls were bright white, nearly neon. The room was empty of all, except a metal-framed table and a metal chair. The Patient sat stoic at the table, face facing the surface of the metal table. His hands were hidden in his lap underneath the metal table.
The door from across the room opened. The doctor with the bald head entered into the room with a thick manila folder of files and papers. The Doctor made his way to the table that stood in the middle of the room and sat down on the opposite side of The Patient. Silently The Doctor laid the file folder in front of him and rested his intertwined hands atop of the folder.
“Hello, Job. My name is Doctor Edwards.” The Doctor extended his hand out to greet the patient with a friendly handshake. No response. “Well, you’ve been with us for a long time, nearly eight months.”
The Patient’s expression remained.
“It looks like you came to us to be treated for………Well, that’s interesting…..You came here on your own.” The Doctor said thumbing through the file folder. “It seems that you never gave us a reason for your visit and you never let us run a complete diagnosis.”
The Patient’s expression remained.
“So, tell me about yourself. Do you have any family?”
“Job, what happened to your family?”
“Well, we’ve also seen that you came from a wealthy family. How did you lose it all?”
The silence remained. The tension between The Doctor and the Patient grew thick and awkward. The Doctor seemed as if he were bothered by the silence that fell between them, yet one could get a sense that the Doctor truly enjoyed the silence. He enjoyed the awkwardness. It allowed him to lead the conversation in any direction that he pleased; and he knew exactly the direction that he would lead the conversation.
“I’ve got something to show you.” The Doctor said with a smile. He opened the manila folder to the back, where he had a special stack of files and papers. He looked down at them, the smile grew more devilish.
“In actuality, you didn’t volunteer to be here; we brought you here. You wouldn’t know that because we worked behind the scenes, we had to make it seem voluntary. It actually started with Emily, when she was born. We’ve been planning this for nearly ten years; right after you and your wife were married. ”
The Patient looked up from his trance on the metal table top. He looked intently into the eyes of The Doctor that sat before him. The Doctor flashed his devilish smile. The Patient listened more intently as the Doctor spoke.
“You see, first, it was your job. We began to infiltrate your business, or should I say the business that your father left you after we rid of him. Anyway, we ate at it from the inside out until there was nothing left.” The Doctor pulled a document from the manila folder and laid it in front of the Patient. As The Patient quickly read through the document, he realized that the document reveals the merging of one company into a slightly larger company and the smaller company being liquidated and dissolved into the larger, causing all those involved with the smaller company to lose their jobs.
“You see, that was the easy part. When we absorbed your business, we knew that your wealth would soon dry up, leaving you with nothing. We knew that this news would create further tension between your wife and you. You be honest with you, I was a bit shocked. Trust me, your wife married you for you, not your money, but at the end of the day money influences a lot.”
The tension continued to grow between The Patient and The Doctor. The glare that The Patient delivered to The Doctor grew more and more intense with every secret revealed.
“She never left you. She would never dream of it. Believe me when I say that we tried, yet no amount of money could persuade her to pack up herself and the kids and leave town. She definitely stood her ground. That’s when we brought the kids in.”
The Doctor pulled two pictures from the manila folder and laid them in front of The Patient. The first; a lovely black and white photograph of a four year old girl with stringy hair and a delightful smile. The second; photograph of a four month old boy with slobbery fist shoved into his mouth.
The Patient’s body began to shake beneath his medical gown and robe. He tried his best to keep his trauma covered under his stoic glare at The Doctor.
“They called for you. In fact, they cried for you.” The Doctor said with a smile more devilish than before. The Doctor watched as the face of his patient changed instantly. “With every agonizing moment their cries became more traumatizing, more intense……until their very end.”
“No!” Job cried, breaking his stoic glare.
“That’s when she snapped and took a leap of faith into the darkness. She was swallowed by it. She couldn’t resist. She couldn’t live without her darlings. She couldn’t live without you, yet she didn’t want to live with you.”
“Stop it.” Job looked up once again, bringing his face back to the stoic look that would mask his pain. He glared into the eyes of the man who single-handedly disassembled his life.
“It’s at that point that you ‘volunteered’ to be here. We perfectly organized our presence in your life to ‘help’ you. Yet, we haven’t been helping you, have we? It’s been quite the contrary. Yet, through all of this you remained. You never broke, not fully. You remained strong.” The Doctor rose from his desk and began to circle around the patient as if he were encircling his prey. “You see, we started this nearly ten years ago for one reason; we wanted to see how far you would go. We wanted to see how much it would take before you broke under the pressure. You never did. Why is that?”
“You have no idea.” The patient spoke through gripped teeth. “You will never know what I know.”
“Sir, sir, you lied to him.” Dr. Quinn said looking at The Patient through the large window that looked into the medical room. She pivoted her eyesight to The Doctor, awaiting his response.
The Patient sat silently at the metal table, he swayed back and forth. His fingers where entangled in his unkempt hair. With each sway he tightened his grip to the follicles of hair that rested in his palm. As he moved in his seat, he began to whisper to himself. He was so quiet that he could not be heard if you even sat next to him. His mind was fully of the words of The Doctor; Doctor Edwards.
“Not entirely,” he said in response. “I only told him what he needed to hear. His family is gone, his wealth his gone, it may or it may not have been me who was responsible for all of it. I guess he will never know.”
“Anyway, this was left at the door.” Dr. Quinn continued, handing a small white envelope to the delish doctor standing next to her. The envelope was addressed to The Patient, written in the blue ink of a ball point pen and decorated with the scribbles of a child with a crayon. “What about the other letters?” Dr. Quinn asked nervously, remembering the various letters that came in the mail, all of them addressed to the same person: Job Roberts.
“What about them? The Patient doesn’t know that they exist. It believes that the wife and kids have forgotten all about him. The Patient believes that they are dead; and it will never know anything different.”
Job, the patient was lead back into his room. A well lit, white room that felt dark, cold and lifeless. As the door slams behind him, Job looked around at the milk white walls that were made out of large cinder blocks.
His metal framed bed was covered with a white blanket, neatly made. Job slowly stepped toward the edge of his bed, where he fell to his knees. With very little strength left, job laid his elbows across the bedspread. He interweaved his fingers and bowed his head.
You are my strength. Regardless of my circumstance or my situation, you are my refuge. I am thankful for your love and grace every day. I pray for my family. Thank you for my beautiful wife, Rebecca; my amazing daughter, Emily and my chip of the old block, Brian. I know that they are alive. I know that wherever they are, or whatever they are doing, that they are taken care of by you. I know that you are protecting them and guiding them and that you are reminding them that I still love them. I do not blame them for not visiting me, although I wish I could see them. I wish I could hold them. I can only continuously thank you for protecting me and loving me and continuing to give them the strength that I need to face all that I am being asked to face.
It was dark. The sky was filled with a hopelessness of light. The thickened clouds layered the sky, covering the empty winding road with a gray, bleak ambiance. The winding road was wet from the heavy rain that continued to fall upon it, leaving it slick and slippery for any vehicle that may drive on it. Lightning strikes sent an occasional streak of light through the darkened sky as thunder completed the sound track to the heaviness of the evening.
A set of brightly lit headlights danced through the falling tears of the clouds. The tire tracks of a 1987 Ford F-150 followed closely behind the beams of light. The truck raced through the streets, coursing through numerous twists and turns of the wet pavement.
The knuckles of the driver whitened as he gripped the steering wheel as tightly as he could. He squint his eyes as he maneuvered the machine through the heavy rain pattern. The driver’s mind raced through a series of thoughts as he traveled.
What if they find it? What if they find out? They will see everything that I’ve done, all of it. I’ve got to get rid of this. I can’t start anew with this in my life. It has to go.
He gripped the steering tighter with each passing thought. As his mind raced, so did the F-150.
Bumps in the road caused the rear end of the Ford to bounce up and down. With every bump, the driver’s eyes peered into the rear-view mirror as he remembered the contents that rested in the back of the truck. “I’ve got to get rid of this,” The driver whispered to himself, steering the car slightly through the dark night. “Where can I hide it?” He tightened his grip on the steering wheel, pushing the acceleration pedal closer to the floor in hopes that that the vehicle will reach its destination faster.
“I’ve got to make sure nobody ever finds it.” With stress filling his voice, he rolled his eyes from one point of the wet road to the other as he contemplated the perfect hiding place. “I can’t wait to rid myself of all of this.” He muttered as he rolled his eyes into his mind, journeying through his memories. As he coursed through his thoughts, he face melted into a variety of emotional expression of displeasure.
With a pivoted head, the driver drove off of the paved road and found that he was driving on a slightly bumpy dirt road that was moist from the rain. Large trees covered the vehicle, keeping the rain from soaking the car or the dirt road.
“Oh, yes. This is perfect.” The man smiled as he got closer to the perfect hiding spot. “I will finally be free. I will finally be able to start off anew.” The man smiled. The F-150 was brought to a complete stop in a dirt field that was shielded by the large trees. Climbing out of the driver’s door, the driver ensured that he had found the correct spot, turning his head in a complete circle, noticing that his vehicle was completely surrounded by the trees.
The bed of the F-150, which was covered by a metal enclosure, was opened, revealing a largely rolled up piece of cloth. The roll was held together by multiple belts fastened together until fully wrapped around the roll of cloth. The large roll of cloth was surrounded by large boxes of childhood memories and belongings of the driver. The man looked down at the large cloth, smiling. Next to the large roll of cloth, there lay a wooden shovel. The man wrapped his rough fingers around the wooden handle of the shovel and pulled it from the bed of the Ford.
What have I done? What would they think of me if they knew? I’m horrible, I’m disturbed. They would never speak to me again. They would never forgive me. That’s why I had to do it. This was necessary.
The metal edge of the shovel was shoved into the moist dirt, standing on its own. Dirt was shoveled away until a 6 foot deep hole lay open before the dirt covered man. He breathed heavy as he looked at the open ditch that lay before him. Next to the 6 foot deep ditch where large mounds of uprooted dirt; the shovel’s metal edge buried in the mounds, keeping it upright.
Grab it out of there. Let’s get this done. They will be here soon, I just know it. Let’s move.
“Uggh,” The man grunted as he pulled the large roll of cloth out of the truck’s trunk. The roll of cloth was long horizontally. He slump the large roll of his shoulder. The roll of cloth showed itself as heavy as the man slumped when he walked with the large roll over his shoulder. Every step was purposely balanced to steady the horizontal cargo on the man’s shoulder. The moisture from the rain drenched the cloth, making it heavier.
Oh, my God! I can’t believe I’ve carried this around for all of this time. It’s time to rid myself of this. It’s time to stop struggling and get this off of my chest. I’m finished.
With a great push the cargo was sent into the 6-foot ditch that was dug by the anxious young man.
“I’ve got to get rid of this.” He muttered to himself, grabbing the wooden handle of the shovel and retrieving it from the dirt pile that rested next to his feet. With a hurried hand, the young man began to pile the damp dirt on top of the large roll-up cloth. “I’m almost there. I am almost free. Soon I can go home. I can move on.” His words were motivation to himself as he continued to shove the metal shovelhead into the excess dirt and tossed it rapidly into the ditch.
He stared into the half-filled ditched. One end of the rolled of cloth was nearly uncovered from the mismatched piles of dirt. He looked at exactly how the dampened cloth clung to the contents of the roll, creating indentions in the cloth. As the cloth settled on to the contents of the roll, the indentions began to form what could only be described as a face.
“I’ve got to see it.” He whispered to himself, still staring at the apparent face in the rolled-up cloth. His was a frozen in fear. He barely blinked as he stared intently. He slowly stepped toward the opposite end of the ditch and stepped into the ditch.
You’re stepping on it. It’s right beneath you. He thought to himself as he turned around, looking down at the roll. He slowly planted a knee into the dirt and moved a trembling hand toward the edge of the roll. With a light touch he ran his fingers on the edge of the roll, feeling the rough edges on his fingertips. “What are you afraid of? It’s dead. It’s no more. You are free from it; all you have to do is finish the job.”
“I’ve got to see it, one last time.” He whispered to himself, his fingertips still sliding along the end of the rolled-up cloth. He gripped the edge of the cloth and began to peal it away. He first saw the soaked hair; brown. He then began to see the forehead and eyebrows; also brown. When he reached the eyes, they were closed, but he remembers the color of them as well; brown.
Every inch that the cloth peeled off of the face, the more anxious the young man became. “I’ve got to see it. I’ve got to make sure that it’s the right person.” He continued removing the wet sheet from the face of the victim, until the sheet reached beyond the chin, revealing the neck.
“It’s him. It’s him. Oh, thank God, it’s him. ” He studied the face, even though he has seen this face billions of times. He had seen this face for the last twenty-nine years; for the face that he was looking at in the watery grave was his own.
He dropped to his knees in relief. With his two hands intertwined and his eyes closed, he spoke, “Father, please forgive me. This body is not who I am anymore. This is the body of my disobedience. This is the body of my brokenness. I burry reminisce of my old ways here to follow you truly and whole heartedly. I ask that you forgive of all of my disobedience and brokenness. I ask that you forgive me for all of the times that I chose to abandon you. I need you. I ask that you would empower me with your Spirit and guide me. I do not wish to return to this spot. I do not wish to return to this body. I do not wish to return to my old ways. I chose to follow you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”
Using the shovel, he hoisted himself up to his feet and climbed out of the grave. With a few final scoops of dirt, the body was completely buried beneath the freshly laid dirt. Looking to the sky he sighed. He sigh was a mixture of relief and exhaustion.
Dragging the shovel behind him by the wooden handle, he made his way back to the Ford F-150 with the enclosure over the bed of the truck. The rain drops eased his aching muscles. Each step toward the F-150 was a mile long.
“In that grave was all my fear.
Bury my pain and hatred right here.
In that grave was all my fear.
Bury my mistress actions right here.
Help me see clear. Help me draw near.
Mercy is so much more, it’s right here.
Help me see clear. Help me draw near.
You’re not far away, I Know you’re right here.”
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God.
*End quote from Braille’s 2009 album “Cloud Nineteen” published by Hip Hip Is Music
My year away from Jesus: Part 6
It finally started. I spent nearly a year in the bottom of this depression pit, but it was finally time to ascend out of the underground tomb. Through prayer, Bible studies and various attempts to socialize with the outside world, I began to feel like myself again.
I realized that I needed to pull myself out of my current comfort, which unfortunately had become an extremely dark place, and I needed to place myself in situations where I could interact with the world around me. On numerous occasions I would Google local events that I believed that I would enjoy. Yet, too often I backed out of the promises that I made to myself. That couldn't continue!
I would often Google local wrestling shows and small concerts that would allow me to interact with others who share the same interests that I have. While I found some interesting-sounding wrestling shows, I never got up the courage to go to these shows. I guess I was afraid of reaching out.
I needed to stand up and be seen.
I slowly began to go on shopping visits with family member and tag on to outings with my brother and his girlfriend. Even though I was often silently walking like a zombie throughout these outings, it helped me to look at the world again. It helped me to see that there was an entire world outside of my tomb that laid in nightly.
It helped me to see that even though there was a dark cloud following me, I realized that the sun was still shinning for everyone else. Too often this revelation turns a darkened heart darker, creating thoughts of: "Where's my sunshine?" or "Why is their life so perfect and mine is so messed up?"or "Why are they so much better than me?"
While I saw the sun shinning for everyone else, I slowly became grateful. I was grateful that there were people who were benefiting from the blessings of God. I was grateful because I eventually realized that those same people that were absorbing the sunlight had also faced their own depression pits throughout the years, and for many they may have been worst than my own.
Since the sun shown for them eventually, I had to believe that God would shine His rays on me one day. I just had to crawl out of my pit in order to receive those blessings.
I kept praying.
I kept reading.
I kept going to church.
Suddenly it was like a light switch; one day I was surrounded by the darkness of my thoughts and my attitude and the next day there were rays of light shining in life, showing me God's grace and love for me.
Rebuilding that broken relationship with God did not happen overnight. It took work. I realized that I needed to start by rebuilding my confidence, which meant honing my craft as I focused on my talents. I began to write daily. I wrote poetry, songs, articles, and blogs. Along side with the reconstruction of my confidence, I continued to focus on God, going back to my passion for God's word and work throughout the world.
The progress of Bible reading and praying went through a series of changes over this time of healing. When I was buried beneath my depression pit, I was unable to read my Bible without becoming distracted or uninterested. Due to this revelation, I would become very frustrated because I would recall the reading I was able to accomplish before I fell into the depression pit. It disturbed me that I fell so far away.
I figured it out this way: your faith grows jut like your human body. Think of a baby, when they are in their infancy they drink formula. Their body can not digest solid foods and they don't have teeth to chew. As our bodies grow, we are able to eat solid food and even later we are able to eat larger amounts of food. I believe our faith is very similar: If you don't feed your faith, you eventually have to leave solid foods and retreat back to formula. For example, I spent an entire year not fully reading, therefore when I finally read the Bible I was unable to digest what I was reading. I had to re-train myself to digest larger chunks of scripture. So, that's what I did. I would read small pieces of scripture until I was developed enough to handle more.
Even though I escaped the pit, there were still plenty of symptoms that I had to deal with on a daily basis. I found joy in my everyday life, yet I often motioned through joyful and happy to sad or disappointed and then back again. Although I still have a lot to learn, I will continuously seek the ways of the LORD and I will trust his path for my life.
Now, I can happily say that things are better. I have found my ultimate joy in the LORD of the universe; the LORD of grace; the LORD of love; the LORD of my life. I have found a new job; a place where I truly feel like I fit in and I belong. I've even started dating again.
All I can say is that I am blessed and thankful for all that I've been though and all that I've learned from this experience. I hope by reading my words God has blessed you and begun to show you what He is capable of. I pray that you would search for the love of the LORD and trust in the path that he has you on. If at anytime you find yourself lost or you find yourself making a wrong turn somewhere, just know that God loves you and Jesus died to free you from all your sin and all of your mistakes.
Anthony K. Giesick
My year away from Jesus: Part 5
"In the return to life from the swoon there are two stages; first, that of the sense of mental or spiritual; secondly, that of the sense of physical, existence." -Edgar Alan Poe (The Pit and the Pendulum)
As I found distance in the wreckage of my dating relationship and began to find a closeness in my relationship with God, the healing began. I must be honest, while my recent ex entered into another relationship, I eventually took her advice; trying out an online dating site to try to meet some more people. I went on a few dates, but nothing that resembled a dating relationship would emerge.
To be honest, that was for the best because I was not emotionally ready for another relationship. I needed to heal. Just because I wasn't ready for a relationship, that doesn't mean it didn't hurt when I would be ignored by women or rejected by someone that I would begin to like.
One of the incidents that I encountered was very confusing for me. I met her online and we started talking through text. We seemed to have a lot in common, but I was still very hopeful that my lost love and I would clear the air and work out our confusion. When I finally allowed my mind to grab hold of the idea that we would not be together, I began to talk to this new interest more often. We finally decided to meet in person. We went out on two dates, one of them was a dinner date and the second was a dinner and a movie.
As we talked over dinner, I felt that there was a great chemistry and possible connection between us. She agreed. When we met the second time for the movie, we found ourselves snuggled in the seats together. It felt great. We kissed. I couldn't believe it how it felt.
I thought this was the beginning of a new relationship, but within a few weeks we weren't talking. I would text her, no answer. I would call her, no response. I would try to email her, not a word. I was confused and my already shattered confidence took another solid hit.
This was another sign that I needed to focus my heart on God for healing. So, that's what I did. I have been going to a new church over the months, but I was considering going back to my original church that I found here in Phoenix. I thought to myself whether I should leave the church for another, each week trying to decide on what to do. I kept going to church throughout this entire depression and recovery, but I just couldn't seem to find the spiritual connection that I felt like I needed.
In order to find healing from this pit I knew that I needed to focus on my spirit. I needed my heart to heal and I realize that I couldn't heal my mind and body until God freed me from my sin and my spiritual bondage.
I kept praying.
I kept reading.
I kept going to church.
I thought I was ready to return to my previous church, until I heard a sermon that opened my stone encased heart to the truth of God's words. As the pastor spoke from the Holy Bible the Holy Spirit opened my ears and led my thoughts through the dark catacombs into his light.
Every day I prayed and my prayers began to resemble the words of a forgiven son of God as opposed to the words of a heart broken young man seeking a relationship with his lost father.
I began reading God's word regularly, taking the time to digest the meaning of the passages, reminding myself of the honest truth that are written in those pages. The power of God's word opened my eyes to my darkened state of mind and gave me a light to lead me out of the pit.
Along with taking time to heal my spirit and my spiritual connection with God, I also had to take time to heal myself physically. I can safely say that I was't severely harmed physically during my descent, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't physically harmed. One incident where I physically harmed myself....I was in the shower, thinking through the series of events that had happened with this love of mine. I thought of all of all that she said to me and the fact that I never seemed first on her list. I blood began to boil. Before I knew I was punching myself in the chest, the arms and legs. I rammed my clinched fists into the tiled-wall of the shower.
I felt disgraced. I felt overcome by grief and anger. I couldn't seem to control myself. due to my lack of self-control I was left with a large bruise on my left arm that was so tender that there were times that I couldn't move it or touch it.
This would never happen again.
The power of prayer is a very useful tool when one is dealing depression, frustration and even anger. When I'm feeling that old feeling of anger creeping through my system, I must think through the situation that is angering me and take a moment to pray. I will speak my anger to the LORD, knowing that He will listen to my prayers and calm my mind and my body. This will prevent my anger from boiling over into acts of sins and disgrace.
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.