Wednesday, March 15, 2006

White As Wool

My little son is a real Boy Scout. Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. His brother and sister don't call him The Christ Child for nothing.

When he was 18 months old, I pulled him out of the deep end of the swimming pool; no heartbeat, no pulse. I gave him CPR, got him back, and ran down the middle of the road with him held high in my arms over my head, both of us dripping wet, to meet the ambulance screaming up the road to help us. They raced us both to Sacred Heart where he spent two weeks in Pediatric Intensive Care. The doctors said he should be just fine.

I became afraid of the water after that, although I never admitted it. Me, who swam the icy water of Lake Coeur d'Alene and waded in the dangerous, dirty flow of the St. Joe before Memorial Day most years. After those two long weeks in September, I always had a pretty good excuse in hand why The Christ Child's swimming lessons could be delayed another year and since his father never did learn to swim, I had a nifty and powerful co-conspirator, although he was unaware of his role.

So The Christ Child grows up, getter bigger and moves into Boy Scouts. Goes to Camp Cowles. Never gave it a second thought. He always had so many different interests and was so excited to go to get intensive training in one aspect or another of the great outdoors, I completely forgot about that "little" body of water the camp just happens to sit on, Diamond Lake.

And when the Scouts found out he couldn't swim, they took him in hand, marched him down to the dock and taught him. He was not afraid of the water, had no memory of the near-drowning, but was not a natural athlete as a little boy. It didn't come as easily to him as it did for my other kids, who went off the high dive at the pool before they were three. He was different. But he stuck with it and a very kind man stuck with him, until he got it and became confident.

The Christ Child will always remember him, for his kindness and for his care above and beyond what was normal under the circumstances. He said later that this guy really got to him because one night while they were there, he told all the kids around the campfire, Listen, you don't just try your best to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous and kind; YOU ARE A BOY SCOUT, you are trustworthy, loyal, helpful courteous and kind. He said that very thought called him to be somebody specific and directed him on a very real journey. For him, it was His Moment of Enlightment, his own epiphany. He was about 10 years old.

Once camp was over, he did not have any contact with the kindly man who helped him and inspired him and set the course for his early life's journey. He never felt the need to go back to the guy and let him know how he effected him; The Christ Child just lived his life, was always true to himself and what he learned that summer at Diamond Lake. Ultimately, he became a Silver Palm Eagle Scout, the highest award an active Scout can receive, booking hundreds and hundreds of community services hours in the process.

Last year, I had to call The Christ Child with some very bad news. Our mayor, Jim West, had been accused of some serious deeds and at the very least, had turned his back on the trust the people and the voters had placed in him. The news of this horrible scandal deeply saddened The Christ Child because that man who had been so kind to him and had given him wings to fly so many years ago was Jim West.

And so my other little boy had direct contact with a principle in one of the city's most notorious sexual abuse chapters. Only in this instance, my little boy was redeemed by this man who had such dark, dark secrets. I hope and wish for Jim West's own redemption and that sometime, he gets back some of what he gave out so many years ago, during that one week at Scout camp on Diamond Lake.

Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!
Isaiah 1:16-20
The 'Kan EWA


Anonymous said...

You are extraordinary my friend. Oh, that I could express myself as beautifully as you.
I will try very hard to be deserving of knowing you...Kerri

Ana said...

The way you put words together is a gift.

jb3ll3 said...

oh my. I am humbled--first such amazing things from a person I have know almost all my life. Kerri, you bring such joy, just pure joy, to anyone around you. Also, you have the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. One that I have greedily hugged to my chest many times. Ana, your spirit is white hot and weightless. Many a morning, I have latched on to your words in a effort to get myself out the door, down the hill and into my day. Much love and thanks to you both, but in the truest of moments that only the intimate can have together, I am not worthy.