Archive for August, 2011

Old Friends, Forgotten Lives

Since graduating from AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) I’ve struggled to return to the life that I once lived.  I traveled up to Fargo and Minot, ND to visit my nephew and niece/God-daughter, across the states back ‘home’ to N. Virginia and across the ‘big pond’ to visit Ireland with family.  When I’m constantly moving, going nonstop there is no difficulty.  It’s when I stop, try to sleep, begin thinking, try to reach out to friends that I thought I still knew, that is when it becomes difficult. 

I’ve said it before, but just in the past week at home has it really hit, I have changed.  I am no longer the person I once was, when I lived here last.  I see the world differently, with eyes that seem to be recently opened. 

There are friends that I haven’t talked to in what seems like years.  People I once knew when I was somebody different and they expect to hear the same person that they heard ten months ago, two years ago, the last time we talked. 

We have grown up, gotten jobs, created a family, gone back to school.  I have traveled and experienced things that few people have.  I have found passions that were once just ideas, love where there was once just a feeling.  I have changed so much, I no longer recognize those I once knew, old friends that I shared so much with not so long ago. 

Our paths have taken us in separate ways and maybe God will bring our paths together once again. 

God Bless and PEACE

In the Land of Legends

Last Week, I began my journey through Ireland.  At one time called the Island of Monks and Scholars, it is a land overflowing with stories, legends and rich in history.  It is a mystic place filled with ruins, mystery and the unknown. 

Although Ireland’s recent past has been filled with violence and bloodshed, ancient sites across the island have been preserved and remain a reminder of times past. 

Wherever you look, you can see the influence of the Christian Religion and the faith of those that lived within these hollowed grounds. 

Memorials line the roads, honoring men who fell to violence in the Great War (WWI), World War II, fights for freedom and independence, as well as struggles between brothers. 

The land, as a whole, remains as it once was.  At times, one feels like you have been drawn into a dream, the past come to life, as the simpleness of the land remains unbroken by time. 

Legends of giants, warriors and heroes shape the landscape.  It is in this history that we find simple truths long forgotten by the minds of men. 

God Bless and PEACE

The Gypsy Soul

There are some that were born to constantly wonder, to never settle down and grow old in one place.  We look out and see vagabonds, hitch-hikers, adventurers and those that seem to have lost their way from the well trodden path.  People wonder how they can live, constantly moving from place to place, always on the move. 

Growing up as an Army Brat, I got used to packing everything up and moving from state to state ever couple of years.  The summer before my Freshman year of high school, I made my sixth move.  From there, I went to college down in South Carolina, then headed out to Colorado with AmeriCorps NCCC.  Each summer, I made my way to different camps and missions trips, from Upper State New York to both East and West Africa.  I’ve traveled to Honduras and Spain, and will soon be heading north to Ireland. 

I look at friends who still live in the same city as where they were born, who have barely ventured more than 100 miles from their homes, and I wonder how they live.  I guess they ask themselves the same about me. 

I thrive on the unknown, the adventure, the open road.  To experience life, one must explore the world around them.  Each adventure is another page in the story, each road another sentence, and when we see something that we’ve never seen before, that is another scene in our lives. 

I’ve seen and experienced many things throughout my travels, each of them shaping me into the man I have become.  For me to continue to grow, I must continue to move and experience more in this life. 

It’s difficult returning to the place I once knew, to the people who have changed.  Though I call it home, I know the only place that will ever feel right is following the path set out in front of me. 

A friend once told me that I had the soul of a Gypsy, the spirit of the Romani people.  Though I don’t believe I share the bloodline of these people, I know I have a heart that urges me to continue exploring and experiencing the world around me.

God Bless and PEACE

When Trouble Rises

In the past ten months of service, I’ve experienced the explosive power of tornadoes after responding to both the Good Friday Tornadoes in St. Louis and the Joplin Tornado a month later.  In both instances, wind ripped apart everything in its path, trees pulled from the ground, and tossing cars through the air.  The damage in Joplin was explosive. 

About five weeks ago, the river in Minot, ND overflowed its banks and sent water spilling into the streets, flooding houses, basements and, eventually, a good chunk of the community.  I traveled up to help repair the damage in my sisters basement after five feet of water seeped in. 

Part of me expected the explosive damage that I got used to seeing from disaster response to tornadoes.  Unlike the damage that I’ve seen, the damage caused by flood waters is more long term.  All around us, we saw shells of houses, gutted and ripped apart from the inside.  The waters rot away almost everything taht it touches, cracking foundations and warping wood.  Everything, walls, floors, personal items, must be ripped out and thrown away.

Flood damage is a slow rotting away from the inside, not unlike a cancer.  If it isn’t ripped out, everything will collapse inwards on itself. 

Throughout the past several days, I helped repair the damage done, using some of what I learned as a Corps Member in AmeriCorps NCCC, but mostly continuing to learn as I worked alongside my brother-in-law and father. 

God Bless and PEACE

Little Miracles

There are moments in life that, no matter how rough the road of life seems to be, one is filled with joy for a single moment.  All the stress, the pain, the frustrations seem to disappear and all the thoughts the constantly flow through your head, all the anxieties, the scenarios, they all go blank. 

It seems like a lifetime ago that I received a call telling me that I was going to be an uncle.  I was training alongside the AmeriCorps NCCC Fire Management Team, Fire 2 and the El Paso County Sheriffs Department.  Then several weeks later, twins.  I was rejoined with my team, Sun 7, in Tulsa, Oklahoma preparing for tax preparations.  Then several months later, as we helped to clean up after the Good Friday tornadoes hit the city of St. Louis, I was asked if I would be the God-father of my niece, Zoey. 

Several weeks ago, my sister gave birth to a set of beautiful, yet tiny, twins.  Neither of them were fully developed, and each day after their birth was another battle and another miracle of life. 

Soon after graduating from AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) I mad my way up to Fargo, North Dakota to visit my sister, mother and my niece and nephew.  I didn’t realize how small they were till I held Bryce (my nephew) in my arms. 

As I basked in their presence, everything seemed to fade away.  Yes, I was still concerned about my future, how I was going to get from point A to point B, possible job opportunities, but yet, for those precious moments, none of it mattered. 

To say that these two little ones are miracles would be an understatement.  In their short little lives, they have already had an adventure, though they probably will never remember it (they got evacuated out of Minot, ND about a week or so after they were born due to the flooding).  Each breath is a victory that makes all of us, the family, smile. 

Take a look around you.  There are moments that pass by each and every day that are miracles.  We don’t see them because we are not looking, we are distracted, and we are overwhelmed by our society.  These miracles are the heartbeat of God. 

God Bless and PEACE