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Thursday, April 21, 2011


Sunset at Gettysburg

There have been times in my life when I have gotten a little nudge, a cosmic "bump in the night" as it were and anticipated something that ended up happening in my life. I am not really talking about ESP or predicting the future. No, just those little things that happen to all of us at one time or another. I think some of this is just a result of my being sober and more in tune with myself an the world around me. But it's something I'm starting to notice more and more....

When I was 14 or 15 years old we took a trip to the battlefield at Gettysburg, it would be the first of many trips that I have made to that historic and awe-inspiring place. During that trip I walked a large portion of the 2nd and 3rd days field (it was a 3 day battle). In an area called Devil's Den I walked off the trail a bit and sat down on a rather large boulder (seen below in the original picture)to eat the lunch I packed in my knapsack.

As I sat there eating I had the strangest sensation that I had been there before. I jumped off the boulder I was sitting on and realized I was in the exact same spot, well off the beaten path where a famous photograph from the war was taken of a body of a young Confederate Soldier, most likely from a Georgia regiment. He was killed moving up a hill during Hood's attack late on the second day. At that time it looked quite likely that the Battle Of Gettysburg could be the final victory the South needed to secure their Independence. They were driving the Yankees back in a massive and bloody attack...

The young man in this photograph appeared in several more photographs taken the same day (aprox. July 6 or 7, 1863 by photographers Alexander Gardner and Timothy 'o Sullivan, that was 2 to 3 days after the battle ended and 5 days or so after this fellow was killed) His body was picked up and carried 60 yards to a rock breastwork where Gardner took probably the most famous pic of the Civil War "Confederate Sharpshooter at Devil's Den".

Photos: National Park Service

It was the first time in my life that I had felt such a strong and specific connection to a place. I have that happen a couple times since then. What does it mean? I really don't know except that it was an incredibly powerful experience at the time and it never really left me.

Today, I spend a portion of my day (usually in the morning) meditating. Mostly sitting quietly, first in prayer and then just listening. I have to say that doing those simple things each day has revealed to me the significant power of developing a conscious contact with God or the Creator or whatever you wish to call a higher power you may believe in.

I used to believe, that if I couldn't see it, touch it explain it then it couldn't really exist. All I'm saying today is that my mind and heart have been thrown wide open as far as the possibilities of a spiritual life and contact with God go.

I have made no secret of the fact that one of the things that has helped my recovery from alcoholism is the understanding that I am powerless on my own, over my addiction. I tried for years to change, to slow down, to quit...I could not do it. In almost every other aspect of my life, I am a strong willed person and can do pretty much whatever I set my mind to. Except when it came to my addiction and alcoholism. I simply have NO control over my addiction and behavior once I take the first drink or drug.

A belief in a power greater then myself, for me that is God. My Creator has given me strength that I scarcely would have imagined in my old life. I realize in writing a post like this perhaps raise more questions then have answers. That used to drive me crazy, today I understand that is life.

There simply are things that I don't and will never understand. Today I can live with that but this notion of prayer and meditation as a 2-way street has profoundly affected me lately. I used to think prayer was a one way connection: You pray, God listens. Er, that's not really how it works I've found.

As I mentioned earlier there are some amazing discoveries to be made by just being STILL for awhile. Ive never really done that before...I never just listened to whats inside of me. Well I was definately missing an important part of that prayer/meditation thing by not doing so.

I suppose it would be easier on my brain if I didn't ponder such things and I just lived my life but I can't. I'm not built that way...I don't think any human being is that one dimensional....

As i sit here I have to smile a bit because this is such a departure from my old, closed minded approach to everything. I suppose old dogs can learn a few new tricks!

I have some other thoughts on those nudges we get sometimes so I imagine there will be some follow up posts to this one in the near future...

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