This I Believe

Shawn - Rapid City, South Dakota
Entered on October 20, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

A tale of ten cities.

Spearfish Creek freezes from the bottom up. My father says,”The colder it gets, the easier it is to fish.” I dipped my toes in that creek today. His memory flooded my mind, and again, he was my angel.

He had half my intelligence-twice the spirit, faith and hope. I met him in 1991 while performing music in Spearfish’s city park, and I can close my eyes and still touch him. Sam was a hyper-joyous, developmentally disabled man who danced the entire show while the rest of the “respectfully reserved” crowd remained in their seats, comfort zones, and minds. From the first chord played Sam went straight to his heart and never once looked back or slowed. I was so focused on him I really messed up a few songs. And he knew. He’d smile, point, nod his head, and his twinkling eyes would hit me like spirit-exposed sabers. He took my breath away and I could barely wait to take a break before meeting him. As events would have it, my wait was not long.

As they often “appear” to do, “things” began to go “wrong”, and the sound system decided it would take a nap. I immediately fell into a self-pity trance as a pal tore into the main amplifier to coax it awake again. I gazed impotently at the hundreds gathered for the performance and freaked. Not a “postal” freak, but a fairly frantic freak, as fear and anger began their shoulder-to-shoulder race for control. I felt, rather than saw, Sam standing beside me with a smile that tugged me from the bummer bunker I was constructing.

“I love your music,” said Sam. “Thanks,” I weakly replied. “How come you are so scared?” asked Sam. His question stunned me. My tinkering pal answered, “It’s his intensity. He’s got too much intensity.” Sam thought about this for a few seconds, turned to his mom and said, “He’s in ten cities, Momma. That’s why he’s so scared!” Momma nodded and introduced me to her boy. My angel.

Sam and I pulled up a picnic table as my pal dashed off to retrieve another amp. The crowd stayed, the show went on to a nice finish, and I learned more in twenty minutes with him than I would in twenty years of spiritual study. Of course, I didn’t “get” Sam’s lessons on the spot. I’m still “getting” them: (If I get quiet enough I’ll hear lessons in a blade of grass. If God is truly infinite, there’s no roll for judgment and comparative analysis. If I’m grateful for what I have I don’t want more. The highest pay grade of a spiritual life is servant. Humility is not thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself, less. We are all God’s kids in soul school, and I need to quit being in ten cities and be right here, right now. Where salvation is. The most important inside job. What we all come looking for we came looking with.)

Naw, he didn’t say that stuff directly, but he somehow said it and I somehow “got” it. Sam is nodding right now, somewhere. Dancing.