Signposts Along the Way: Signpost 6 – Part 1 of 5: The Stone Wall

2 Apr

The Stone Wall. Cold and hard. Built by Jim. Like Jim. A beautiful, field-stone, retaining wall surrounded my parents’ property on two levels. It was divided by a circular staircase that led up to their front landing. The wall wrapped around each side of the drive hugging their forest green ranch house. Spaced selectively throughout the stones were sections of wall crafted low enough to act as benches for sitting.

Making the choice to drop by my moms house for a visit was not an easy one. I had to pick days that I knew my father would be away. If he was home when I arrived, then I would have to sit and wait for my mom on “Jim’s Bench” as I started to call it.

It was a typical Spring Saturday in northern, New York when I arrived. The weather was a bit overcast, but cool and calm. Dad was supposed to be on a fishing trip with his friend that day. I took advantage of his absence and visited mom at their house. As I got out of the car with my 2 year old son David and an armful of groceries an unexpected downpour descended upon us. Grabbing David by the hand, we dashed up the stairs leading to their front door. Awkwardly ducking under the narrow eaves, we managed only to gain some ineffective protection from the rain.

I quickly rang the doorbell expecting to be greeted by my mom. I was shocked when Dad answered the door instead. Peering out within inches of the open door, he saw that it was David and I, and abruptly slammed the door in our faces. Soaking wet and numb from the unexpected greeting, I couldn’t tell the difference between my tears and the rain. With my heart crushed, I retreated back to the car with David and cried.

The next day, despite the previous encounter, I was drawn back to my parents home. It was a day that I’ll always remember. The weather outside was beautiful. Lucid, 70 degrees with a slight breeze. A jewel day, as mom would say. On the inside, my heart was hurting, heavy and sad. As I pulled up the drive, I still had no idea why I was there. My parents were both away from the house so I stayed for a while making sure to leave before they returned.

From the safe harbor of my station wagon, I looked over at my assigned seat on the wall. Under any other circumstance, for any other person, it would have been the perfect spot just to sit and relax. Shaded by overhanging Elm and Oak tree branches, one could spend an afternoon on that wall and ponder the day away. For me, “Jim’s Bench” held an entirely different purpose. Despite my unfortunate connotation, I decided to go over and sit on that cold wall anyway.

I closed my eyes and let the sound of the rustling leaves and swaying branches quiet me. Although my heart was still hurting, my mind was surprisingly clear. As I sat on the wall, I found myself starting to pray for my dad. Not knowing God, and not even knowing what to say, in desperation, I whispered: “Oh God, if there’s a hell, he’ll go – but if you can get to him, if he can hear about you, then he’ll have a chance to be safe.”

I remembered recently reading an article about an evangelist, Kathryn Kulman, from Pennsylvania. She held meetings about the miraculous powers of prayer and the message of hope for all who seek Gods love. These meetings were attended by thousands. At these meetings miracles happened. I didn’t know how any of this worked, but I knew that my father desperately needed change. I wanted him to go to a place like this. I believed that if he could be present in this “Atmosphere of God” then he would be touched by God.

On that day, perched on Jim’s Wall, sitting on Jim’s Bench, my “Stone Wall Prayer” for my father was born.

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