I am writing my legacy in hope that it might help others in their own journey.
|October 31, 2012
“Witness to Withness”
The year was 1976, a bicentennial I will never forget. I was in my third year of college studying to be a minister when an emotional crisis first reared its ugly head. Everything has a beginning and an end. Before my experience at Taunton I had been in two country club type of mental health settings for manic-depression issues. I was taken to Taunton State Hospital, when the mental health center could find nowhere else for me to go.
The first five months I was as Taunton I was in my own little world. I wanted nothing to do with anyone and I was convinced that nobody cared to want anything to do with me. It was enough to consider how I got myself in this mess. Now who or what was going to get me out. I knew in my own mind I did not belong and resented anyone who thought I did. Four months later, the title for this story (dare I say book) sustained me. I had been wandering the hospital halls for months lost and alone before I came to a seldom used craft room, It seemed to be calling my name. The only thoughts that turned around in my brain were:
What a mess I was in! Now how can I find my way out?
I had all but given up. I was convinced I was in this place for life.
I used crayons and markers and whatever I could find to envision what Witness to Withnessmight mean.These were the two words that God gave me at the juncture of nearly giving up hope. These words were a seed I believe God planted into my brain.
I would be released two months later in the Spring of April 1978. I learned from my stay at Taunton when chaos seems poised to take over reconnection with the world is possible! One of my main prayers that evolved from this experience to study to be a minister was
"Be with me Lord”.
I pray that all who read this can get a glimpse of how eternity worked its magic in one lost soul. May it be an encouragement to other seekers.
The occasion for writing this was the reassignment to another security post. I had been with the security company for five years and felt more like a Raggedy Ann doll than a human being. At times I wondered if they were just trying to see what it was going to take for me to crack. I was determined to make this work for me. I was doing my work at the library garage. What greater place could there be to want to begin my life story?! The library has always been one of my main places to escape and create. My main motivation to sharing my story was the context of the persons who made writing their craft. I was desperately wanting to let people know that there was a place where healing could take place in the wilderness of their lives. with anyone who was seeking similar healings. Some people were thinking that my days of ministry had ended. I heard the same voice that called my name at the hospital craft room tell me the journey was just beginning.
Before I could begin to put words on paper my brain seemed like a tangled ball of yard begging to get unraveled. I am writing in the living room of our residence in Blue Springs, Missouri. Our creamy white cat “Snowy” is nestled by a window ledge, where she loves to view what is going on outside. I am enjoying some free time.There are times when my security job seems more like an incarceration. It is a place where I do my time so that we can pay our bills. Questions spring to the surface. How do I best represent what I profess to be true? I have reflected and pondered enough. The time to write is provided by the silence of the midnight hour. Just as an ear is attuned to the sound of a cricket, I was listening to the voice that was calling me out of my shell to see where I had come from and where I was going.
I had been a pastor prior to a caregiving stint with developmentally disabled adults. I had pastored from 1990 to 2000 at an inner city church in Kansas City Kansas. Divorce had put ministerial divorce put those aspirations on hold. I was feeling shame and a desire to be near my children. As a small church pastor I made little money. Pulpit committees would interview me and insist I needed to try to give my marriage a second chance. They had no comprehension of how shipwrecked our marriage had become. As a result of divorce I was near bankruptcy, thousands of dollars in debt. Ministry was all I knew. I spent at least twenty years preparing for it. It was my dream come true. Now at the turn of the century I was feeling emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I was hoping to reinvest those energies in compassionate care giving "ministry". I did not have to be working for a church, I was convinced I could work for God wherever I was at.
In the year 2005 my life as a minister seemed to come to an end. I was accused of accidently giving the wrong medicine to a developmentally disabled client. Four months later he died after the incident took place he died. I was summoned to attend an administrative hearing. It was their one hundred page document vs.the testimony of my coworker and a lawyer (I found him just a few month before the hearing). I never stood a chance. I was banned from working with the developmentally disabled. As a result of the decision I was forced to rebuild my life from scratch.
Journaling kept me sane in the transition of looking for other employment. I interviewed with a career counseling agency, so that I could get some perspective. They were concerned with traumatic psychological injuries affecting my ability to be effective in a ministerial role. They suggested I find a job that would provide me with time to heal up. The therapist they recommended was a man I will call Phil. We have been meeting off and on for seven years, in order that I might manage self destructive tendencies. There was a child in me that needed nurture and care for. Over time I have learned that I am not the cause of family traumas that took place amongst my seven younger brothers and sisters. Too often I was blaming myself for things I had no control over. Working as a Security Guard seemed like a safe job choice. It was the first time in my life I was yelling at the world telling everyone that I am glad I am safe. When I first started security I thought God put me there to die. I gained more confidence in myself with each successive shift. I was reconnecting to others in a way I had not. This is significant considering how unsafe and fragile I felt after the administrative hearing. I am offering what I write as a gift. God is the artist who is making my life into a masterpiece. Writing keeps me on task, so that I can begin the process of recovery; being more available to the moment, a witness to withness.