Just after I got sober in 1994, I made a promise to myself – to one day return to Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico – to the church I was confirmed in. From the summer of 1957 to the summer of 1960 I attended Lutheran catechism in that church every Saturday, and for the last year, every Thursday and Saturday.
On the day of my confirmation Chaplain Baumgaertner told us that many would leave the church. I remember that so vividly, and I remember sitting there imploring upon God that it wouldn’t be me… but, it was.
And so, that promise I made to myself back in 1994 or so, became very important to me; for it was the Lutheran Church (here in Whitehouse, OH) that I initially turned to for help when I decided to get sober.
Last week (June 15 – 21, 2015) I took the opportunity to attend an ‘All-classes School Reunion’ at Ramey. However, my primary objective was more ‘spiritual’ in nature than anything else – to return to that church, hit my knees and give Thanks to God for saving my life.
On Tuesday, 16 Jun, 2015, before anything else, Carolyn and I went ‘walk-about’ on base to find that church. And after a bit of time, we found it. It isn’t a church anymore – it’s a school. But you know what? It will always be a church for me!
As we walked along that morning I felt myself becoming more and more ‘anxious,’ as if I were returning home. And I suppose I was. As we walked on the sidewalk I first caught glimpse of what I thought used to be the church, and it was!
And it became even clearer the closer we got.
We walked around a bit, then I found a way in. There was no one around to ask about going in, but I have always found ‘forgiveness’ easier to receive than ‘permission.’ So, in we went.
It hardly looked like a church inside, the only resemblance were the remaining pews.
As I kneeled there, I reflected on how blessed I truly am – and the tears flowed. Tears of joy; tears of gratitude; tears of humility…
And then I spent time asking for strength to continue on this wonderful journey I am on today… and giving “thanks” for the opportunity to keep a promise made…