What I’m Looking For – Line 6

I have crawled

I was pretty sure my legs were supposed to move, but I couldn’t get them to even budge. Of course, I couldn’t feel them either, and I was drunk enough I was having a hard time determining where they were supposed to be relative to my arms (which also weren’t working).

The party had started off calmly enough, my cousins had brought me because I was family and they were supposed to be watching me. Early on, one of the girls had the bright idea of giving me a bottle of my own and letting me just hide out of the way watching TV in the host’s parent’s bedroom (the only other room with a TV). I think she probably meant “my own bottle of beer” but instead I ended up with “my own bottle of vodka” and not enough sense to know that I wasn’t supposed to drink it all.

The best Smurfing time a kid can have…

What I’m Looking For – Line 5

I have run

My legs were starting to burn now, that deep burn where it starts with just a twinge down by the bones and quickly grows into a raging fire that spreads relentlessly. Being in the lead helped a little, but only a little.

I was trying to control my breathing rate, knowing that I only had one lap left to run. I could see most of the runners in front of me, I’d lapped a couple on the second lap and a cluster at the end of the third; and I was pretty sure that I was coming up on the rest of the field – that they weren’t catching me.

Just this fourth lap to go.

Victory and the agony of da feet…

What I’m Looking For – Line 4

Only to be with you

Everything about the day had felt “off” from the beginning.

The Boise Seventh Day Adventist Church had begun building a new church out past our home on Cloverdale Road, and they had sold the prior church building several months back to provide additional funding in the mean time. We had been renting another church on Saturdays to hold services in, but we couldn’t use it in the afternoons as the Nazarenes had other things scheduled, and well, it was their church after all.

Which was fine, as it had never really felt like our church, so I didn’t regret going somewhere else. But it still felt off.

Now, here we were, getting changed in one of the classrooms in the Eagle SDA Church. I’d never stepped foot in this building before, and now it was the church where I was being baptized. Everything felt off.

I’d listened closely to our instructions, and when we were told to get ready, I took the instruction literally, and wasn’t in the sanctuary when we were supposed to be introduced to the congregation. This apparently led to an awkward moment, but as I wasn’t there, I couldn’t say.

Baptism and the anticipation of newness…

What I’m Looking For – Line 3

Only to be with you

The Wenatchee Seventh Day Adventist Church was pink. I’m sure the original name for the color was “rose” or “soft magenta” or somesuch; but let us be frank, it was pink. Not the outside of the church, which was painted a soft cream color that tended more towards yellow in the baking central Washington summer sun, but the sanctuary itself: the carpets, the fabric of the pew cushions, the tint in the wall color – all pink.

I know that it was the first church I was ever in. It was the sanctuary where I was dedicated in the summer of 1976. And it is the place where all of my early memories of church were made. It is also the proto-typical image I have when I think “church”…right down to the pink pews.

And when holidays would come, my entire family would gather in this church, practically filling the right-hand side with Knutsons and Brodys, Millers and Pershalls, Rogers and Peets. We’d listen to Uncle Charlie give the sermon, sing hymns off-key (because singing didn’t seem to be “our gift” by and large) and then join together in the Fellowship Hall for potluck and stories; followed by a chance for all the cousins to get our church clothes dirty playing on the school playground next door as the afternoon would fade into evening while the grownups talked and talked and talked.

Church was family. It was a holiday every weekend. It was sitting on aunt Pat’s lap through the sermon, even though she had two boys of her own. It was singing hymns with gusto with “uncle” Bob Brody (who WAS given the gift of song) until we were hoarse and spent and ready to nap under the pew. It was “here is the church, here is the steeple, open up the doors, and see all the people!” (with requisite hand motions and finger wiggling) while aunts and cousins laughed softly and smiled at all the kids gathered like chicks between patient mother hens.

Church was where I learned “Jesus Loves Me” and “Amazing Grace” and that true grace is loving everybody because Jesus loves them, so we should too. No exceptions.

Church was where cousin Jeff gave me his “wheat thin” communion cracker because I was sad that I didn’t get a tiny glass of grape juice and “he didn’t mind sharing” with a precocious little cousin on the brink of tears from being left out. The lesson I carried with me for years and years was that communion was a gift, and gifts are shared with love and without reservation.

For me, church was family, and love, and something to look forward to; and pink.

[Word Count: 451]

[<- Line 2]|[Line 4 ->]

What I’m Looking For – Line 2

I have run through the fields

The light was filtering down through the leaves and creating the most incredible patterns on the grass between the rows of apple trees in the orchard. Row after row of trees, and passing between them was like moving between the columns of some great arboreal cathedral. Each one a long sanctuary of light and scent and breeze.

I was six, and I knew that I could run forever and never reach the end of these rows of trees. I couldn’t see the end, I didn’t even know if there was an end. They went on beyond eyesight, and sound, and even time.

If I went to my left far enough, across the rows of trees instead of down them, I could find the cliff. The great edge of the world. Well, at least to my mind anyway. There, where the Columbia River had carved a great scar into the very foundation of the world, I could look out across the valley and see the cliff on the other side; and beyond it, an orchard up on it’s high ridge exactly like the one I was standing in. Like some kind of parallel world separated by thousands of feet of empty space.

I turned back towards the farmhouse up the rows of trees above me, spread my arms out wide, and ran. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, my body leaning into the wind, the air rushing past my ears and flowing between my outstretched fingers.

And then I crashed, giggling and deliriously happy, into a patch of tall grass and last autumn’s leaves.

“Nicky, what on earth are you doing?” asked my cousin from the seat of his motorcycle.

“I’m catching sunbeams!” I squealed in reply, still giggling more than breathing.

“Well come over here and I’ll give you a ride. We’ll catch them faster this way.”

And we did.

[Word Count: 320]

[<- Line 1]|[Line 3 ->]

What I’m Looking For – Line 1

I have climbed highest mountains

We’d been hiking for five hours. Well, “hiking” is a rather serious understatement. Gaining more than four thousand feet over five miles of distance (five miles as the crow flies, NOT as trail winds, believe me) implied more than a simple hike. As did the half mile wide rockslide field littered with boulders larger than the SUV that brought us to base camp, the two serious thickets that could have hidden an army of mountain lions or bigfoot or an entire lost civilization including pyramids, or the three times we crossed the creek where there might have been something that passed for a crossing back when the world was in black-and-white and dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

They didn’t call this the Frank Church WILDERNESS Area for nothing.  This was the boonies.  Through the heart of the Sawtooth Range of the Rocky Mountains and out on it’s uninhabited back porch.  The only things that got here on purpose were Bears (according to the warning signs at the trail head), big horn sheep, mountain lions, and tenderfoots up from Boise for a weekend camping excursion with a topographical map and “a neat idea” to find that little unnamed lake where the creek through our favorite campground started.

Guess which ones we were.

What you find at the top of the world…