Thursday, July 25, 2013


Toward Freedom XVII


I met Craig through his friend John, who was my randomly assigned roommate at Colorado University. In some ways it was a good year; John had a car, and we found a sled someplace, and I knew the roads in the mountains. We'd drive up to Lickskillet Gulch (so named because miners would lose control of their wagons and roll into the canyon, going lickety-skillet) and bomb down the north-slope icy road, three on the sled. It was a tight fit, and on one run Craig nearly gave up his ability fo father children, courtesy of a good-sized rock well frozen to the road. I'm not sure how we came out of that with laughter instead of injuries. Three big men on a sled.
    At the end of the college year I was released from further educational responsibilities. I ended up working in Kansas, which lasted about four months. In November, remembering the warmth of those cold days in the mountains, I quit the job and drove back to Colorado.
    This is something I'd never do today. Today is full of planning and feasibility and organization. In those days planning consisted of seeing if there were any gas in the tank and some money for more. Future? What's that? I won't last that long anyway. The pattern continued the night of my arrival. I had never been to Greeley and had no real idea of where I was going. All I knew was Craig's address at the University of Northern Colorado. Eventually I found it, much to his surprise. We went over to talk with a friend of his, Kathy, and she turned to Jesus that night. Or morning.
    I found a room to rent for a time. Soon Craig and I found a mobile home for rent and moved into that. Life in a space forty feet long, eight feet wide. Cold in the winter, especially when Craig took all the blankets. I cooked, he studied, neither of us cleaned house. We became locally famous.
    Christmas came around, a time of year I endure more than enjoy. We went to his parents' house in Denver, and suddenly Christmas became something more. A family that laughed with each other, not at. They enjoyed being together. It was like magic to me, and although I didn't recognize it then my internal judges were getting into the act.
    Forty years later, living with the Camachos in Lancaster, I remembered those days in Denver. Where have I been? Chasing my tail? I'd guided myself into a deep hole far from freedom. I've spent quite some time beating myself up for those "lost  years," but who's to say they're actually lost? God is ever patient. If the lesson takes 40 years to teach, that's the time he'll spend. One who has been a slave for his entire life must first learn to recognize slavery for what it is. All of my decisions have been based on that foundation. It is reality. God has a different reality.

2013 July 25

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Toward Freedom XVI

"I just wanted to let you know that yesterday at around 3:15 a.m., Craig passed through death into Jesus' arms, after a short battle with cancer that they just diagnosed on the 8th of July." (Email from Carol Rouch, July 24)
    Toward freedom. The journey starts somewhere, perhaps tiny threads that combine through time and set the general direction through time. Growth, shrinking, fear, back and forth. Change is confusing. I used to think that it just happened, that I would change my actions but remain the same inside. That's a recipe for conflict. In the early days I rambled along by feeling. When I met Craig at college in 1970 a new thread started.
    It was tied to a long-established one. I knew there was more to life than the nuts and bolts presented to me in school and family. Reality lived in the interstices between blocky facts. I kept my hands out of the cement, not really knowing what I was doing, but I knew it was there and that it brought life to the rest. Those ideas coalesced around Craig because he himself affirmed life in a way I'd not run into before.
    He was a Christian, the first I met for whom belief was not a burden. He knew how to have fun, while also getting things done. I don't know how he worked the balance, but I liked the way he walked and that was enough to get me to pay attention when he implored me to turn to Jesus.
    We lived together for a couple of years, before he got married. His tendency was toward freedom. I saw the bondage of marriage. He and Carol worked on the freedom of knowing each other. My bondage got stronger as the years went by and I ended up in the place both of us agreed was the last place we'd ever want to live. He ended up in the place both of us thought of as nearly ideal. My guidance versus Craig's balance. I followed my own ways and wandered away from God. God brought me back.
    Since then I've had to be serious about learning freedom. Self-judgment is a killer that I didn't recognize until fairly recently. I wish I'd been able to believe more in the way Craig lived, but we have the same God, the same promise of freedom. He's free of this world now. The rest of us will muddle on with memories.
    Who'd have thought that rolling a rock down a road could turn into a game? Who, in this day of everyone being scheduled, ever gets together for just whatever happens? We did that regularly, and the simple humanity kept me sane and showed me that there's more than my family's way of dealing with life.
    There are parallels. I lived with some friends in Lancaster for four months while my apartment was being worked on. I've not lived with anyone in years; the two years I lived with Craig are the longest period I ever did. Back then I wasn't as rigid as I've become here, and it was quite a stretch to stay in another household for four months. My friends share Craig's spontaneity and love of freedom, which made me fasten my straitjacket even tighter. I felt God's fingers trying to loosen it and resisted. When I lived with Craig the same thing happened but I didn't understand. 40 years later I finally learned the lesson. Well, am learning the lesson. It's a long trail, old friend.
    If we had it all to do again... oh, yes. Well, with God there is no failure. My friends in Lancaster still like me. God still walks with me. I'm even learning to let him touch me, comfort me. It's not a lie, not a come-on. Straight up, God is.
    El Creggo, whatever you're doing, I'm glad you're where you are. Sad, too, that I'll never roll another rock or watch a sunset from Fat Chance Summit with you. I stood in the melting snow that early winter, outside our cabin as you drove away. We'd finally gotten your car out through the snow. I nearly cried. I've spent the years since not crying about other things. No, I can't be lonely. Freedom seems to go with loneliness, and I chose that path. I wish I'd been less dedicated to my own guidance. God could have showed me freedom long before now. Well, we get there. Thank you.

2013 July 24

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