WITNESS THE BLINDING OF YOUTH
Day 61 Ima Road to Grady
today: 36 cumulative: 1168
An early start. The tarp on our ghetto city is snapping in the wind, a mad max pole tent dogcart cooking shelter patched up with duct tape, blue tarp with orange patches. The sound of it wakes me up at sunrise. Too windy to cook, I dont want to deal with it. Lets just get started and get this windy hell day over, but what if the next is empty windy hell day, and the next? In a chapter called hell in a book I picked up 700 miles ago Napoleon- "What is the world, O soldiers? It is I; I this incessant snow, this northern sky; soldiers this solitude through which we go is I." And so I walk through I and windy cold hell day is in me and a manifestation of windy cold hell in me so deal with it Aaron and walk. I am glad I didnt take the last 2 rides offered, I want this wind in my face leaning self fighting self struggle I need the pain I need to feel alive. Even if a ride could have gotten me closer to town to weather this storm, there will be many more storms and I cant cheat them all so Id better just face them all. I dont think I will make Grady tonight; that would be 36 miles.
Watching blue sky perfectly clear tiny dots of clouds form from nothing, and grow and twist around like tiny dragons chasing tails. Wind blowing them across the plains still growing until later these tiny dragons will be the monster and will cover the sky.
Hiding under the porch of an abandoned building from this wind and this empty 24 miles of myself, thinking of warm embrace of womens beds. No cold beer and bar stools today. I want what comes after, dreaming in someones arms. Juniper scrapes against this tin building like on a chalkboard screech and branches creak, this is the intersection at Ragland, I think one family lives here behind a huge gravel pile. Other abandoned buildings. Other scraping noises and old wood groans in the wind. Time to face the monster.
Sides of the road are loose red dirt and gusts of wind come at over 50 miles an hour. The red dirt forms a wall and comes from behind me, dust storm filling up the dog cart and my teeth and my nose, wind so hard at my back it makes me run. We are sprinting down the road and if a car comes it will not see us, steer right and run on the shoulder. And going and going, I will make it because I am swinging my arms today. I have made the decision and so I will be in Grady tonight. Looking for a church or a barn or a firehouse. Not even a gas station, but yes, a church. Always a church.
Inside, the preacher sits in the front pew with a young boy named Jared. He is telling Jared why people die. And then the conversation moves on to baptism and how not to go to hell. And the brainwashing begins, right before my eyes and I record the conversation to show you how a Christian is born and how a young child is forced into his parents religion. How a young child learning how to see is forced to close his eyes and walk the world blind, and the blind beget the blind and dont you dare question any of this, swallow it whole because dad says so and because if you dont you will go to hell and you dont want that do you, ok, then bow and say the words I tell you to say. What I see today makes me sad. Jared will never know what is out there; he will live in a world that is flat, where you will still fall off the world if you walk too far, so no one walks anywhere.
"Everyone dies today because of Adam and Eve, because Eve was tempted, and then she tempted Adam. Gods righteous judgment on sin was to condemn them to death, spiritual death and physical death. The second death is hell. Hell is an awful terrible place, but because he loves us and doesnt want us to go to hell, he sent Jesus. Our payment for sin is death, but Jesus gift to us is eternal life."
"Jesus didnt sin, but you and I have, we are born in the original sin of Adam and Eve, even when we are born we are sinners, and the wages of our sin is death. But if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. That is the only way to be saved. Have you done that? You believe he died for you?"
The boy nods. What else is he supposed to do, say no, I want to go to hell?
The preacher continues, "God says you are his child now, you are in his family. You and I, we wont stay in the ground when we die, hell come back to get us. He will raise us up from our graves. Hes gonna make you new from the inside out. You belong to God right now. But you have to do one more thing. Do you know what you need to do now?"
The boy shakes his head, no he does not know what he should do, but I am sure the preacher will tell him.
"You should to be baptized. Do you know what baptism is?"
The boy says no he does not.
"Baptism is a sign so you and the others can be marked as believers. When you go into the water you die to the world and are reborn in the lord. The old Jared is dead, and a new Jared is born in the blood of Jesus."
He then goes on to explain the story of Saul and his vision on the road to Damascus. The baptism that followed, and the baptism of an Eunuch, how easy it is not to go to hell, how easy it is to go into the water and say the right words, follow the formula and shazzam, eternal bliss on white cloud harps and soft songs for eternity.
"So you need to think about that, you need to pray about that. Ask Jesus what you should do. What are you going to tell God when you stand before him someday and he says, Jared, why should I let you into my heaven." Jared says timidly, "Because I got baptized? Because I prayed to Jesus?"
"Thats right Jared. The main thing you need to know is that it is ONLY because of Jesus. What you need to say is, Its not how good I am, its how good Jesus is. Because Jesus died for me and I asked him to forgive my sins. And if you say that he will say You are a good and faithful servant, enter, a heaven has been prepared for you. But if you say you should get in because you are a good guy and you always tried your hardest hell say Thats not good enough. Do you understand?" He nods his head yes.
I think you need to be baptized next week. Next week is Easter, the time when we acknowledge that he is our owner, our boss, the master of the world. I think thats a good time to get baptized."
"Now, lets pray together. Father we just want to be in your presence, and to thank you that Jared has made this decision to follow Jesus and be baptized. I pray you solidify that decision, that you would make him a mighty man of God. I pray he will seek to follow you all his days. I lift him up to you to guide. Let him stay in the word of God. In your name we pray."
Then he pats the boy on the head and says, "your dad getting a haircut? Well, Ill take you over there." What is that boy supposed to say after a barrage like this? He has been told, if he doesnt do this and say that, then he will be one of the damned. Like me. I am the person the Baptists are afraid of, I am the one they are damning to hell, the one who asks questions, the one who has seen the other side of the earth and knows that it is not flat, the one who walks without a blindfold.
The preachers name is Rody, hell be right back he says. No problem, hes got a place for me to stay. I like him, and as long as I dont talk about religion I will get along with him. I can stay in the church. He will be right back and we will eat together. The storm is coming, cold north wind. Rody takes me home to meet his wife and his baby girl, and we eat tacos and talk about the walk. Wendy says "Rody, that would be you if you hadnt gotten married." After dinner I wash the dust storm off and everything is covered in red dirt, and clean and warm, he takes us to the church to sleep in the library. Thank you Rody, another good American, I do not hate Rody, on the contrary, I love him. A brother. But I hate the dogma that erases minds and blinds the children and shackles them to the couch of ignorance.
The baptismal font is a bathtub mounted in the wall with a painting of a river behind it, a walk thorough operation. River running through the church but the wrong kind, the kind that drowns, it is easier to drown than to swim the ocean, and that is the kind of effort real spiritual progress takes. You have to swim the ocean.