Monday, August 30, 2010


Google “Wing Suits – Norway”. That'll take you to a series of You Tube videos of full grown men wearing something closely akin to a flying squirrel costume, jumping off some of the highest cliffs in the world, spreading their arms and legs, catching the wind and flying at over 100 mph along these cliffs, staying aloft with an incredibly long glide ratio, for five to ten minutes at a time. Then, when frightfully close to the ground, open a parachute and waft gracefully to a gentle landing.

I've always had flying dreams. From as early as four or five I've had the incomparable experience in my dreams of feeling some unfamiliar sensation of power in my mid section that allowed me to lift off the ground at will and soar casually around the trees and rooftops of whatever scene I'd find myself in.

When I was six, we got a new refrigerator that came in a cardboard box. When my father flattened that box and put it over by the garbage cans I knew immediately I had the makings for my first set of wings. While my parents were busy with their weekend chores, I snuck out a kitchen knife, then raided my mother's sewing box for some long elastic bands. In an astonishingly short amount of time, I was climbing out the attic window on to the rather gently sloping roof of our attached garage, pulling out behind me my newly constructed set of strap on wings. I put on my simple apparatus, strapped to my back and arms, walked over to the edge of the roof, and almost without hesitation, fully expecting that unique feeling in my mid-section that I'd experienced so many times in my dreams to carry me aloft, I jumped off the roof and crashed in a heap on the back lawn below.

Fortunately my parents hadn't seen me and I surmised that this might take more practice than I'd realized and accepted that I'd have to start closer to the ground. There was a stump of a large oak tree my father had recently cut down. Again and again I'd climb up on the stump just a couple of feet off the ground with my cardboard wings strapped on, try to feel that feeling of power in my solar plexus area, and jump out, frantically flapping my arms believing my wings would carry me farther than if I'd jumped without them. My father saw my experiments and actually helped me measure the distances jumping with and without the wings. He gently let me observe for myself, quite disappointedly, no significant difference.

But the flying dreams continued and each dream produced the most exalted feeling I'd ever experienced and I wasn't going to be deterred from having that feeling while I was awake. The property behind our house had a small empty field and a wooded hillside with some hickory trees that lent themselves to climbing. My next attempt was to grab my mother's umbrella from the front hall closet and my fathers umbrella from the garage, go back into the woods, climb into the hickory tree with the perfect overhanging branch, umbrellas hanging from my belt. I stood on that branch and got my balance, opened the umbrellas and leaped into the air, again in full confidence that exhilarating feeling of power would arise and carry me off like Mary Poppins – who by the way hadn't appeared yet into modern American culture.

No need to report the results of this experiment. But, although Mary Poppins hadn't arrived in the movies, Disney's first cartoon version of Peter Pan had, and it was all the rage for kids that summer. At seven years old, I went to see this tantalizing flying adventure with Jimmy Ardito, an older kid of about ten who lived a short bike ride down the road from our house. Jimmy's mom, Alice, took us to the movie and on the way home Jimmy told me he knew the secret of how to make Tinker bell's pixie dust. Chopped up toothpicks. Yup, he was sure, guaranteed, pixie dust was nothing but chopped up toothpicks.

While my mother sat at the kitchen table sipping cup after cup of Nescafe with Alice, and Jimmy had gone off to more thrilling adventures than misguiding a gullible seven year old, I helped myself to a handful of toothpicks from the kitchen drawer and arduously cut them into the smallest possible pieces with my boyscout knife. When my mother asked what I was doing and I told her, her response was about the same as if I'd told her I was going out to the back yard to play with King Kong. She never expected that I actually went back to that wooded hillside, climbed up to that perfect hickory branch about fifteen feet off the ground, sprinkled my freshly made pixie dust all over me, imagined that feeling from my dreams in my midsection, and plummeted straight down into the huckleberry bushes below.

Really dejected now, having used all my pixie dust at once, I went back into the house for more toothpicks. Of course I didn't share the details of where I'd tried my experiment when Ma asked, I simply said my pixie dust didn't work the first time and I was going to make some more. Jimmy's mom, Alice, straightforwardly asked “did you say abracadabra?” In retrospect, I understand where Jimmy got his sense of amusement, but my mom realized that I might be courting danger and insisted that I jump only from that stump that still remained from the big oak tree my father had taken down the year before.

Remembering the results of my earlier attempts from that location, I decided to save myself the trouble of the tedious chopping of the hard toothpicks, and my serious doubts about the mere words abracadabra, since I never had to say that in my dreams. Instead I took my favorite bamboo airplane with the wind up, rubber band driven propeller, and went out to the back field for some satisfactory, solitary playtime, knowing with full confidence that someday I'd learn the secret of that tantalizing power in my solar plexus that allowed me to fly so freely in my dreams.

Friday, August 27, 2010

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD by Carol Welch

It seems I worked the afternoon shift for Children's Fellowship. I can't recall now what children were in my group, my little fellowship which I oversaw for the few hours in the afternoon. There wasn't much to oversee really, since every activity was planned out in advance.

In The Way we were taught to "plan the adversary out of our life." The adversary was the devil, the dark spiritual force that "walketh about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." We were to be ever diligent to not allow a crack in our hedge of believing, to allow no fear. It was through fear that the adversary could gain a foothold in our life. If he got a foothold, he could gain deeper access to our lives, taking us "off the Word."

That's how devil spirits could get into our minds and even into our bodies causing diseases. But our positive believing could hold diseases at bay. If I couldn't believe to be healed in a category, I was at fault. But even then I was to have no condemnation. I would continue to confess the positives of the Word; that is how I could build my believing. That and by doing the five basics of witnessing, speaking in tongues, abundantly sharing, studying the Word, and fellowshipping with likeminded believers. Yet God was always the healer and was to always get the glory.

But by this Limb Day, I was doubting some of that doctrine. Why was it that since I had gone outside the Household of The Way I had gotten so much better in my physical and emotional health? It had to be my believing. It had to be that my reading and writing had somehow built my believing to allow God to work greater in my heart. But weren't all our needs supposed to be met within the Household? Craig had taught that if we are walking with the Father, that our needs would be met on a 24-hour basis. Sure some things took a bit longer, but most our needs should be met in that one day period or sooner.

But Craig was gone now. The believers didn't discuss Craig anymore, except maybe in private conversations behind closed doors.

After the Saturday Limb Day evening event, whatever it was, John and I met up with Linda ending up in her or our hotel room talking into the wee morning hours.

Linda had been in our Home Fellowship when John and I lived in Hickory. We had moved from Hickory in 1997 mainly because most of the Hickory Way believers had quit standing on the Word. Most had chosen to follow Mike and Jane who were made "mark and avoid" in 1995. The remaining people who chose to stand with the Household, drove to our home for Fellowship from Valdese or Morganton, some 15 to 30 miles away. All except Linda; she still lived in Hickory.

Linda and I had known each other since high school when we used to party together. But I wasn't the one that got Linda into the Word. My friend Debra had witnessed to Linda sometime in the early 90s. At the time Debra was a single mom with three boys. Linda was a single mom with the three girls.

Though I wasn't the one that got Linda to Fellowships, I had witnessed to her back in the late 70s or early 80s. Linda still remembered when I had her and her then-husband Joe listen to a cassette tape on which Craig taught "Truth versus Tradition." I had loved that teaching. I had loved Craig and how he taught with passion and how he confronted religion.

I didn't like religion.

Here we sat now, in 2005, in a hotel room discussing the Ministry and how it had changed. Linda shared how the Sunday teaching tapes were boring to her, but that it must be her. That she just needed to change her mind, because after all it, the teaching and the Minstiry and all that entailed, was still the Word of God.

"The Word, the Word, the Word and nothing but the Word," Doctor used to say. The Word was always right.

I sat in the upholstered chair in the hotel room listining as she spoke. My gut had butterflies. My heart trembled. A hint of anger lie just beneath the surface, a hint that I would quickly dismiss. Anger scared me.

Should I say anything?

"It's not you Linda." The words seem to come out all by themselves. "I feel the same. The teachings are dead. I've pulled out some of the old teachings by Doctor. I've been listening to those instead. Sometimes I miss Craig. I miss his passion."

I dare not go so far as to tell Linda what I had read on Greasespot Cafe. Besides, I still wasn't sure what to believe about the stuff I'd read. And people there seemed so bitter and one-sided. I didn't want to be one-sided. I didn't want to be bitter.

Then Linda opened up about what had happened to her and her family in the Fellowship where she started going after John and I moved from Hickory. It was with the same people where Eric and Debra had been publicly shamed. Linda and her daughters had experienced similar. The Fellowship Coordinator had even gone to school to complain to the high school principle about Linda's daughter. Her daughter ended up scapegoated by the Fellowship Coordinator. But still, Linda continued to attend Fellowship. It was the accuracy of the Word that kept her coming back. That kept us all coming back. Where else was there to turn?

Listening to Linda further confirmed my doubts. But how could I ever leave? When and if I leave, do I tell Linda? What about my family? How could my children get the accuracy of the Word if I left the Household? How could they know the truth? How could they function in life without the Household? How could we stay a family if we all weren't likeminded on the Word?

The next morning, after the Sunday morning service, I helped with clean-up from the Limb Weekend. I loved the saints, the believers in the Household.

I loved God.

I loved the Ministry.

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This story is also posted at:
Toss and Ripple