With a birthday coming soon, I realize I’ve entered my eighth decade on earth. Time for an honest look at who I really am. My dreams and most honest thoughts are royal roads to the self whom others know on the surface as Russ Clark. So I rely on the inward wisdom as I write this brief memoir.
I confess to being a menagerie of emotions, beliefs, and fantasies. A kaleidoscope of fear and courage, love and hatred, celebration and mourning, success and failure, faith and doubt.
There were those moments when I climbed high on the mountain and other times when I was lost in the winding valley. Those occasions when I rested on the riverbank and found peace, and other times when I’ve been lost in the winding valley. Other episodes when I was swept away in the raging torrent or stuck in a steamy swamp.
Seasons when I felt the Holy Presence and other moments when He seemed light years away. Times when the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and other instances when it was all a jumble of shapes, sizes, and shades, with nothing fitting together,
I’ve been through war, crippling illness, divorce, depression, addiction, and adversity. And I’ve seen how God’s hand has led me through all these labyrinths, to strengthen and yet soften me for future battles and also for approaching acts of compassion. Henri Nouwen’s title, “Wounded Healer” comes to mind in these moments.
I’ve met good, honest, salt-of-the-earth people along the way. Some were farmers, others were lawyers, bankers, teachers, counselors, doctors, nurses, stay-at-home moms and dads, pastors, priests, small business owners, shop workers…and the list could go on and on.
I’ve also come across men and women for whom life must have been painful. Their scowls, curses, meanness, bigotry, and selfishness are marks of a tragic past. And I’m reminded of the old adage, “Hurt people hurt people.”
Through it all I’ve worshiped at the sun’s rising and its setting, and at all the sacred hours of the daytime. The distant monastery bells call me to prayer often, when I bow to thank my Maker for His goodness, confess my failings, and resolve to move forward with faith, hope, and love.
More to follow.