Posts Tagged 'Spiritual memoir'

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Two

Circa 1970’s

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

In spite of my “I’ve got it all together” mantra,  I knew I was somewhat spinning in who I was now, who I was becoming and quite uncertain of my grounding.

My “experiential” lifestyle had about run it’s course and I was weary.  But who had time to sort all that out? I had classes to finish, protests to attend, and gatherings with new friends to discuss the perennial questions of the meaning of life. No one seemed to have the answer.

To take a break, over Memorial Day weekend I took off with some no longer remembered friends to a rock festival in the woods a couple hours away from campus.  The “Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival” was loosely based on Woodstock which had occurred the previous summer in upstate New York. During that Saturday afternoon with the music blaring across the fields, I found myself holding a sugar lump of LSD in my hand which was placed there by a complete stranger. Dropping acid was not something I had tried.

The inner struggle to pop it in my mouth or not was a crossroads for me and I knew it then. By the grace of God, I handed it back. I see that as a turning point of my life. I was walking away from a tried-on lifestyle but what was I walking towards?

Meanwhile, the soundtrack of my life was Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock.” “I am a rock, I am an island, a rock feels no pain, an island never cries.” But I did. Sophomore year ended and I headed back home but hopefully not for long. The Jesus of my youth seemed far away.

I had big plans for the summer of 1970. Actually, my only plan was to go to Colorado and do something. I decided I needed mountains to provide the perfect setting to think deep thoughts. The previous summer I spent working at a camp in Massachusetts which allowed me to get to the ocean every few weeks. Why not try the mountains this summer?

As you might imagine, that plan was way too vague for my parents. We wrestled back and forth on that. Finally, it was time to make a decision, was I going or not.  I remained adamant as did they.

On an early summer evening, I went to the drive-in movies with my friends. Before I left, my mom said she was going to pray the whole time I was gone about whether or not they would allow me to go. If you knew my mom now, that wouldn’t be a surprise but at the time, I don’t remember her ever talking like that before.

When I returned, she was up waiting for me. “I don’t really like this but I feel a sense that we need to let you go.” I was shocked. She added the caveat that I couldn’t just roam around the mountains but had to take summer school and have a structure. I quickly agreed.

In a short matter of time I was registered at Denver University to take two psychology courses as that was my major. I packed my bags and they put me on a plane. A friend of mine whom I had somewhat dated picked me up and drove me to campus. He was eager to reconnect, I sensed I was going in a different direction. One weekend camping trip with his friends to the mountains clarified that for me. I was out.

But where was I going to be in?

This was my first time living in an apartment. The small complex was part of student housing and right on campus. My two roommates were Hazel and Marilyn and we seemed to click. BTW, Hazel and I are still friends and see each other when we can as she now lives in Idaho. I remember unpacking and listening to the two big hits from that summer, “Close to You” by the Carpenters and “Make it With You” by Bread.

Being on this campus felt like a fresh start, just what I needed after the wrung out spring. I wasn’t looking to pursue any particular lifestyle but just to take a deep breath. I liked my two classes, got a very part time job and spent a lot of time gazing at those beautiful mountains so visible everywhere.

But my heart was deeply unsettled and I longed to stop the churning. (To be continued next Thursday.)

PS If you missed part one you can find it on the right. Better yet, subscribe to the blog.

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part One

My College Years

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

We had met before like is sometimes in the case with long term relationships. We actually hung out a lot when I was younger.

My mom remembers us talking to each other from my crib. “Tish, who are you talking to? She would poke into my room to ask. I replied, ‘Jesus.’” But, as I grew older, we drifted apart. It wasn’t about him, it was about me.

Jesus was part of my childhood. I sort of “grew out of him” but held the memory dear, like the flashback of a favorite doll I received one year for Christmas. I didn’t ask him to keep in touch when I left for college. I knew I might stop by and see him at our local church where he lived on my visits home but he wouldn’t have fit in at college.

If he ever did pop in to see me, I rushed him out of the room. I didn’t think he would care for my new lifestyle or choices. No need to embarrass him. Let’s just keep the memories as they were, a childhood friendship. I was going my way and he could go his.

Turns out, my way was ending up full of potholes (no pun intended,) detours, flat tires and dead ends. Not to mention I got lost all the time. Asking for help from any others than my traveling companions on the same road seemed out of the question. Foolish even. Likely someone would tell me to just turn around and find another road. No thanks.

Until the spring of 1970 in my sophomore year of college. My new pursuits, philosophies, and relationships were crumbling around me. I longed for the “Kumbaya” nights around the campfires of my youth but they seemed gone forever.

The wheels began to fall off the bus but it would take something really big to stop me in my tracks. The something big began with the Vietnam war protests.

The spring of 1970 was filled with war protests over the US involvement in Vietnam. I can’t honestly say I did a lot of soul searching for my views on this but it certainly seemed important to join the protests which were happening all over the country. I proudly wore my black armband and chanted with the best of them as we marched around campus.

On May 4, 1970 the Kent State Massacre occurred when four college students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a protest. That event catalyzed students everywhere and on that night of that event, the call went out to “take over” one of the main buildings on campus, Simpkins Hall. So the entire group of about 1000 protestor marched into the building and refused to leave for five days.

I remember huddled there with my group that first night fascinated and somewhat fearful about what might happen next. Speech after speech was made with lots of chants with the crowd building in fervor. I was glued to my spot on the floor. Then the local police showed up and began making their way through the crowd trying to break it up. Ultimatums were issued on both sides but no violence occurred.

Part of me wanted to run out and the other part thought what a great statement it would make to stand down, risk expulsion and possible arrest. Rumors were spreading about the presence of state police and National Guard near by. Tear gas was used at Southern Illinois University which was eventually closed by the protests.  Clearly, I wasn’t agitating at the level to get even noticed and eventually the crowd dispersed and I headed back for a few hours of sleep.

I wrote my parents about “almost getting arrested” and they showed up at campus the following Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, to have a little chat with me. Actually more like a confrontation.  “Stop what you’re doing!” I knew they were worried but didn’t see that as my problem.

To be honest, I was worried too but not about getting arrested. (To be continued next Thursday)



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