My uncle called tonight. I learned a little bit more about him, and he awed me with his deep thoughts.
My mom always says that he’s one of the smartest people she knows. He’s incredibly intelligent….and as such I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the deep thoughts that come out of his mind.
He’s had an interesting life. Part of me would love to hear all the details and write his memoir for him (although I think he’s currently working on that himself), and the other part of me is afraid to hear it. He grew up in the 50s and 60s, is a Navy veteran and a recovering drug addict. His drug abuse started with marijuana and alcohol and moved on to much harder stuff. He told me tonight that all of his friends that he knew 20 + years ago are all dead….mostly from drug use. It’s a scary idea, especially for anyone that has loved ones that are addicts.
He has been treated for cirrhosis of the liver and is currently undergoing radiation for liver cancer…..both of which are a result of his years of alcohol and drug abuse (as well as a mis=prescribed drug which advanced the damage to his liver). He has been in recovery for most of my life, lucky to be one for whom a 12 step program has worked. Following such a program, he believes in God and his relationship with Him has grown stronger over the years.
He usually calls from time to time to discuss politics and just talk over issues. Tonight we had the obligatory political chat (which is always easy since our views are quite similar) and then he told me a couple stories I’d never heard.
When he was first out of the Navy in the late 60s – early 70s, he rode a motorcycle across the country, enabling him to see all 48 contiguous states.
“I never knew that about you,” I told him.
“Well you wouldn’t. For all your mom knew, I was out drugging. And I was. I was like Easy Rider, only more along the lines of Sleazy Rider. I had seen the sun set and rise on the Atlantic when I was with the Sixth Fleet. But I rode out to the Pacific. And I stood at the shore and just looked out beyond the shore. And beyond the shore BEYOND the shore….do you know what is there?” This is where he got deep. He asked if I’d been to the shore and if I’d ever been beyond the shore, far enough away, in the water, to not see land. “Beyond the shore beyond the shore is a void – a void of darkness where love, light, and faith are the physical laws by which one must abide.”
He proceeded to give me a testimony of sorts…..a testimony of how he came to be closer to God. He lost a wife to a car accident about 10 year ago now. And two weeks before her accident he was strangely awoken in the middle of the night by the voice of God.
Now I am aware I may lose some of you here right now as some people are just put off by the idea of God let alone the idea of God talking to a person. But this conversation explained so much to me, especially when it comes to him.
This voice that my uncle heard (and we didn’t discuss whether it was a literal voice or whether it was a voice made up of thoughts that entered his mind like how my pastor at church would describe it) asked him if he understood the basis of Christianity – that Christ has been the perfect sacrifice and thus has died for his, my uncle’s sins. My uncle responded yes. The voice asked him why he still felt so guilty. My uncle had no answer, so God asked him again. “Why do you carry this guilt?” And my uncle realized that as a believer he no longer had to feel the guilt…the Christ had taken that burden upon Himself.
The timing of this conversation was perfect in my opinion. So often, when something bad happens we automatically blame God. How could He let this happen? How could God let this person die? I don’t want to get into the deepness of this specific topic. But for my Uncle, the timing was key. He was able to keep his faith and not be angry with God when he wife died less than a month later. He never blamed God.
The reason I share this part of the story is that it cleared something up for me. So often I hear of people that I know or others have known that during a time of illness or just old age are at peace with their passing. They are ready to go and meet their maker and move on to the next step of their adventure. This to me is ultimate faith.
I believe in God and have all of my life. My relationship with Him strengthens and weakens based upon how much I put into it. But i know that He is there just waiting for me. However, I can’t comprehend being “ready”….ready to leave this world and meet Him. I’m not ready. My uncle is ready, and has been since that conversation with God. He’s come to terms with it and is at peace. For this reason he has decided not to have a liver transplant. He is just going to continue with the radiation and other treatments that the VA can offer. If his time on this earth comes to an end, he is ready.
And truly, I think his comfort and peace is all based on the deep idea of the void that he mentioned as well as this “conversation” he had with God two weeks before his wife was killed. I hope to learn from tonight’s chat and consider his wisdom as I move forward in my own life.