Day 131

The day goes as planned. Really we do exactly what I have let on I might like. I go to breakfast ready to see if I can help, but Tess and Anabel won’t allow me. The institute founder, Mr. Carroll, makes an appearance to send a couple off to Indiana to begin their missionary work. He reads from Joshua of strength and courage. He seems to interpret the bible entirely in terms of warfare, or at least this passage. He is sending the couple into battle. They must not fear or be weak, because that is a sin against their faith in God. Fear is the enemy’s tactic.

Uncle Don

Don, Anabel, Jena (a staff member), and I set off up the mountain. I felt bad leaving Aunt Kathy, so I give her the geneology Grandma Eileen and I worked out to look at while we’re away. All the others walk very fast, while I am more interested in examining the trees and surroundings. I worry about Don, who seems to stumble often in his haste. Anabel seems unconcerned, so I let it be. We view the nearby mountains from the top.

The remainder of the day is filled with photos, stories, a light lunch, and some family movies from the 30’s and 40’s.

Today I take note of Aunt Kathy’s many moments of confusion. She loses simple words and train of thought. She asked once if my dad had any brothers or sisters. I wish I had been on top of it enough to tell her my dad has one very treasured older sister – herself. I inquire about her medication thinking it may be the cause, but she takes only Tylox and vitamins.

Don gave me a preachy pamphlet which has the same problem as most such material, the tacit assumption that the bible’s words alone are true. I don’t give them my review.

We go out for dinner at a Thai restaurant. Anabel seems to converse easily with the waitress in Thai, and we are served some of the most flavorful food I’ve ever eaten. I’m almost ashamed to enjoy myself so much in public. I can’t imagine better food.

As a continuation of my efforts to understand my relatives’ mental state, I accompany Don to evening prayer group. We begin with announcements, prayer topics, requests, and two hymns. I sing better than usual, a good thing in so small a group, but I can’t concentrate on singing and understanding the words at the same time. We then break up into groups of 4 or 5. I bow, close my eyes, and listen. Each person, except me, offers a long-winded soliloquoy. It goes like this: give thanks, profess faith, make requests, give thanks again, amen. The profession of faith section often turns into a little sermon, probably intended for me. Some of it is interesting. One man emphasizes that our relationship with Jesus is beyond human understanding. Larry, for some reason beyond me, prays that I’ll tire of ridinig and stay here. He also prays for Governor GW Bush, who “seems like a good man,” and that Clinton will “admit that what he’s doing is wrong.” I am silent when my turn comes. Uncle Don, perhaps as a warning to me, explains in his profession of faith the danger to hypocrites who say the words of faith but don’t believe them. First I think of lunch, when he asked that I give thanks, but my prayer at that time was genuine, something like, “Lord, we raise our spirits to you in thanks; for our time together, for your gifts and guidance, and for this food which nourishes us. We are grateful, especially for your love which surrounds us as we share this meal. May we bask in it always, Amen.” I believe that’s the first prayer I’ve ever uttered for someone else as well as myself. A bit unusual for me in ways, but I believed my words. Later Don mentions the hymns we sang, and now I think I probably did sing words I don’t believe. But neither did I understand them in the slightest – they could have been in another language. Nevertheless, Don’s prayer has an effect. I will think twice before volunteering my voice in song again.

At the room we interrupt Aunt Kathy and Mrs. Fredericks(?) in prayer. They don’t seem to mind. Mrs. F gives me a gift of some pound cake. For that I can be truly thankful. I eat a delicious piece before bed.

Close to being aware of dreaming, there always seems to be a puzzle in my dream, some dilemma that appears to be in my way. On Halloween night I dreamt of trick-or-treaters at my tent. I found some Starbursts to give them, but not quite enough for all of them. I tried to devise a way to keep a few for myself. This night I dream my high school history teacher, Dale Parker, has assigned the whole school to some mock controversy. I’m writing on a big poster of the world to make some propaganda for my side, but I keep losing sight of what the controversy is and which side I’ve chosen. I really want to get into it and do well, really stymy the other side. I’ve written something I’m proud of, I show it to him. He shakes my hand and says I’m a good man. When I read what I’ve written of course it says something else and I can’t remember the original. In another dream my high school friend Luke and I are snowboarding when I spot a bear. It attacks Luke, but he escapes. It runs up the hill at me. I remember the myth that bears have trouble running downhill, so I hurtle straight down a precipitous hill with incredible acceleration. But I’m going too fast. I try to slow down and fall. The bear catches up, but Luke appears again and distracts him. He can’t catch us, but we can’t lose him (or her?)

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