Summer 1980 . . . It’s summertime and I have just recently flown back to Ohio after leaving the body farm in Palmer Alaska. I am beginning to write a book about my times living on one of Sam Fife’s end time farms. Following is the introduction to that book . . .
It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago I was standing on a cliff overlooking the Little Susitna river staring beyond into the foothills of the distant mountains whose streams and hills were once laced with gold and promises of grandeur. The mines are still there to tell the story of the old days when gold was God and men deprived themselves, struggling against the harsh climate to seek its favor and to possess all the earthly goods that it offered them.
I too was there in Alaska seeking gold, but my gold was the promise of a changed nature. A nature of good fruit and righteousness that God has promised to them that loved Him and sought to walk in His way. Proverbs 8-19 says – My fruit is better than gold even pure gold and my yield than choicest silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice to endow those who love me with wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.
Years ago the Lord had given me a vision of God’s people living together in peace and harmony, of working the land and experiencing His life together in Christian community. Corporate life and total commitment to Jesus Christ and His body was at the time, in my opinion, the highest of callings.
I’d spent the last five years there in the Matanuska valley, experiencing the joys and sorrows that come from living so close with so many. Knowing first hand how easy it is to expound upon the principles and doctrines of God and to declare our total commitment to Him in church, but how difficult it is to walk daily on His path and continually heed His call to lay down our lives and our wants that our brother may live and have his needs met. I loved Alaska and my family there, I was certain I would never leave, but it seemed the Lord had other plans for me.
How did I come to be involved in such a lifestyle? This is my story. A story of one man’s search for meaning in this life. A search for reality.
Summer 2018 . . . That was then . . . this is now. Then I was a young man full of visions, on a hero’s journey . . . today I am an old man full of dreams who is reaching as far back on memory lane as he can get, trying to figure out what the hell it was I was thinking those many years ago.
In the beginning of this story it is easy to recognize the effects of imagination on the romantic mind. It only takes a worthy cause to arouse the warriors spirit and send him on the hero’s journey.
Forever, it seems, I have been on that journey. Like Sir Launfal in Lowell’s poem “ The Vision Of Sir Launfal” I was, it seems, on a quest to find the holy grail and like the original seeker I failed miserably.
What kind of person gets caught up in these cults anyway? I can only speak for myself.
My early life was not normal by any definition. I was a smart kid from a dysfunctional family with no self esteem and very little training. I grew up in a housing project that required me daily to defend myself against multi membered bullies that were older than me and higher up the pecking order. I was a competitive, street smart loner before the age of ten. I was most likely the ideal candidate for a cult.
When I had my Jesus moment around the age of thirty I didn’t hear the call to salvation and Heaven like everyone else I knew. I heard the clarion call to save the world for Jesus and his church . . . I, still on the hero’s journey, jumped in with both feet and enlisted into the army of God . . . Glory! Fighting for God . . . It doesn’t get any better than that! The tests and trials before that day became moot as I put on His armor, took up His sword and began to fight His battle against Lucifer and his army of demonic angels.
Then one day my truths changed and I tossed that heavy sword into the river of life and settled down for a long, long nap . . .
Today I am out of causes and . . . today, like Sir Launfal, I realize that the holy grail had been with me the whole time, it lived within the eyes and lives of the family I had left behind in my mad dash to win the war against Satan and make a way for God’s people.
I’m now 76 years old. I figure if I’m going to write this book I better get started before father time punches my clock. So as memory holds, here we go . . . down the pathway of remembrance.
This will not be a negative story, nor much of a positive one either. I am going to try to write this as an impartial observer. I still have friends on the various farms that I love and respect and mean them no harm. Regardless of how I feel about religion and the Brother Sam ministry I will take none of my angst out on them . . . it was a time when the world was so different and so much simpler that I thought the hero actually had a chance to make a change . . . before JFK got killed, before the war in Vietnam turned my generation upside down, before drugs and before Brother Sam . . . that is.