What started it this time, I can’t remember. It’s always there, so when it rears its head, it’s sometimes ambiguous as to its definite arrival, it’s definite, “Go. Go.”
On a whim, on an early day in July, so a month ago, from my office computer I first looked up jobs that would be suitable to her, and then jobs suitable to me. The latter had ones available. Greater pay than what I’m getting now, and it would be there.
Thus, when she and I were on an anniversary trip (pre-anniversary), we had time away from kids, so time to talk. She actually began sharing her dreams. After cancer, she’s felt urges to write a book, but “Aren’t cancer survivor stories a dime a dozen? What could I offer?” Very much, I told her. She’s been an example of faith, steadiness, and perseverance for many, myself included. However, as she disclosed how she felt led to this… the passages of Scripture that seem to speak into this situation. The coincidental conversations that are actually Providence. The material she already has from her journal (private journal, she’s more private than I am, I allow for anonymity on the internet ;p)… I felt I had the in. The polite in to the topic.
It’s been 9 years really. Nine years since Vermont started showing up in the areas of my heart and mind. And the language she’s felt compelled into writing a book is the same language that’s been spoken to me about Vermont.
It could be the stress right now. The wayward church member who’s denying faith. The fact that it’s August, and fire season, when we never had fire season – I feel like – until the 2010s. Las night a house burnt down only a few miles away (not from wildfire sources, sounds like hot wiring in an old house). As it was burning I recalled… remembered, back to August 2015 when fire literally surrounded our hill on all sides. Many across our whole region lost homes. It was a situation that Bible College couldn’t prepare any pastor for.
I remember in the darkness, when I was riding back on a four wheeler to my house. The power was out everywhere on my hill, and I felt like I was in a surreal, apocalyptic, hazard zone. Fire smoke as my oxygen. Darkness. I remember pulling out my Samsung S3 Mini, and feeling the warmth inside (which in the burning heat of August, warmth looked like a warm cup of something on a cool autumn night), the inescapable warmth of Vermont. I checked the temperature of St. Albans. Imagined “If I was in Vermont right now, I wouldn’t be here.” But I know, my wife would be here, want to be here as the hill she grew up on was under attack from an inferno.
The mailmen, true to their calling of delivering no matter the weather or conditions, delivered the August copy of Vermont Life that year, along with Green Mountain Coffee’s delivery I had of Sumatran Tawar. In the hours where I wasn’t fighting fire or playing middle-man, I enjoyed from the deck of the safehouse (a house away from green fuel, or lots of trees) where we were, some coffee and a magazine about Vermont.
And as the fire took another house last night… and as I anticipate this meeting with this man who seems bent on leaving faith and destroying his family… and as I lament that this recurrence of Vermont feelings are mounting up for another devastating drowning under the swells of life, it is still my prayer. My hope against hope. My desire screaming into the brick walls that is my situation – I want more this time. Even with overwhelming weight of doubt, of realizations that nothing will probably come, even under the immovable, inevitable boulders racing down the hillsides to crush my planted dreams, I want the passion to bear fruit this time.
But I know it won’t.
Positive thinkers, even Christian ones, say to fan flames of dreams in the soul, because once one lets the constant pour of cold water extinguish them, when you’ve lost the battle in your mind, you’ve lost the battle. But how do I win against all odds? How do I go?
Even today when a counselor spoke into my situation concerning this wayward member, I wondered if it was meant for me. “When a man has a wife, and kids, and responsibilities, even the freedom to doubt and do things like that within their mind aren’t allowed. They have to care for others first.” I know the secularist, devoid of Biblical thinking would scoff, because the world is on a steady feeding regimen of individuality to the point of lunacy, but I agree. So am I not allowed to even dream of planting a church and doing ministry for the sake of Christ?
Not if it means ripping my wife from everything and everyone she’s ever known. Not if means ripping my kids from their grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Thus, like pictures only visible when accessed, Vermont fades behind the demands of life. This is what it means to be a true family man. Surrender. Sacrifice. Giving up of one’s self. Even on giving up of one’s dream.
Is this what it means?