Beatitude Point # 7

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven “. . . Matthew 5:1

He is driven by a strange desire . Someone is calling . It could have been George Harrison – yes , from The Beatles , those ” long-hairs ” this middle age man detests – it could have been George with his guitar , his tune dropped on Dave’s dad from the clouds above Charlevoix that might have drifted like a paper boat from across the Atlantic .

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping

While my guitar gently weeps

I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping

Still my guitar gently weeps .

I don’t know why nobody told you

How to unfold your love

I don’t know how someone controlled you

They bought and sold you .

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning

While my guitar gently weeps

Every mistake , we must surely be learning

Still my guitar gently weeps .

I don’t know how you were diverted

You were perverted too

I don’t know how you were inverted

No one alerted you

I look at you all , see the love there that’s sleeping

While my guitar gently weeps

I look at you all

Still my guitar gently weeps .

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Here lays the port of Charlevoix , named after a French explorer who stayed one night during a harsh storm.

Charlevoix , where fossilized corals from the abyss have been rounded into pebbles by rivers and seas . Here Dave Sr. stands on the dock , stands looking out at the Great Lake , stands tired after driving his car for eight hours , stands in his shiny wing tips , rakish in appearance , a furniture salesman , standing small and often being mistake n as Italian with his dark angled face , large nose , black hair – the “bad-boy” image still imprinted from his younger days . He stands like he once stood searching for planes while a private on a Navy ship during WW2 . Just the previous year in 1971 an air force plane had crashed right here in these waters during a practice bomb run , exploding on impact , nine crew men died .

Where is his son ? …his oldest son named not only after him but also his own father . He knows they have planned to pick up a spare part here for their boat . Who is this son now that he has left home , left the dinner table and the golf course they both love . He worries yet feels pride rising like a singular wave at this boys independence and courage . This is the paradox of having adult children , this is the pain and pleasure , the oldest daughter , the one he doesn’t understand but who owns his heart , just married , pregnant with his first grandchild … his other son a “screw-up” with no job , lazy attitude , sleeping till noon … And then the joy of his ” late-in-life” little angel girl , a gentle resettling .

He stands with a head ache , loud like the sea singing hallelujah , memories annoying his mind , memories of the party the night before the boys left . He stands and hours pass , his gaze from sea to ground and he hangs his head and sighs , a slight tremble in his hands . A tremble like a mistake that won’t leave him troubles him , has troubled him for a long time . He thinks of his wife , still angry with him with a silence as cold as winter rain . Lost in anger , lost like a dropped handkerchief in a dark movie theatre , she has forgotten the attraction of their first meeting , his being the same age as their son is now . They met at the roller rink , her looking like his favorite actress , Lee Remick . He was wild , she was calm . But now she is weeping behind their bedroom door over his bad behavior at last weeks party . The party she so carefully prepared for with an overly clean house , new tablecloth to match the draperies , appetizers ordered from the chef at the country club , good silverware polished and a new dress bought from that boutique downtown that makes her look like she belongs in that new movie , “Diamonds are Forever”. . . and music chosen , a surprise to him that she likes Diana Ross and the Supremes !

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He stands , feeling his heart tumbling , tumbling like dice at the memory . He stands on this grey dock . Is that smoke he spots over the water … is that the devil ? He silently recites the Lords Prayer , the only one he ever says . He sits on the empty beach but the earth is a swelling ocean and he will find himself feeling seasick for many years .

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Showing up three hours late , the guests already eating , the music playing , the girls in mini-skirts chatting like a group of hungry seagulls , he enters . “OK ” , he shouts , throwing his overcoat on the floor , his eyes glazed like a deep ocean shark from the earths belly . The room is silent , the room is embarrassed at this fathers humiliation . He is drunk , he is late for his sons Bon voyage and he is drunk . Many there are unaware of his affliction and the pastor from the church stands now , watching with compassion at this disease of this mans soul – this poverty of spirit . Heard like gale warnings from shore , Dave continues from the center of the room  , ” OK , OK everyone , if any of these boys make a phone call home , anyone of them , do not refuse their calls , do you all here me ” ? He smiles , smiles trying to seem agreeable . ” I don’t know how they are going to cook and eat , they are just boys and don’t know much “!

Buzz’ mom try’s to cover the awkwardness and responds , ” Buzz is a cook “!

“Well Evelyne , how does he know he’s a cook “!

” Because I taught him ” , she answers , dumbfounded .

Slowly the room begins to move at this fathers pain and weariness , the guests flowing with this new energy of kindness preparing to leave with well wishes for everyone . Something has been endangered tonight – some chose not to ponder this , but for those who do , their thoughts are sobering , just having witnessed a capsizing and hoping for the survival of their friends dignity . A sunken ship they pray will sail smooth and free again . This man , this father , this friend of theirs , an anxious character hiding behind a diving mask .

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The words of Jesus and George Harrison merge from the heavens . Someone is calling . ” The age of the universe is about 13.75 billion years . The diameter of the observable universe is estimated at about 28 billion parsecs ( 93 billion light years ) as a reminder , a light year is a unit of length equal to about 6 trillion miles )”

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Chris’ Journal … Thursday , 9-21-1972

I awoke at 9:00 am and proceeded to relieve myself and do what I could for a throbbing head ache , in that order . I returned from the head to find all hands still sacked out so I too returned to that unconscious bliss . Dave woke me up again at 10:30 looking for a key . For lunch and breakfast we ate the hamburger left over from Glen Arbor , the previous nights supper .

It’s  only a buck seventy-five a night here and Dale put down five bucks figuring through Saturday . Dave bought an ice fishing pole in Manistee and a combination perch and coho pole here in Charlevoix . We found a man at the Fairport radio repair shop to install channels 12 and 14 for the locks at his suggestion . The Irish Mariner will take our boat out of the water and the owner can help us with charts , spare water pump , spinnaker block , spinnaker halyard , sea cock and the installation of the sum log . We also purchased the Great Lakes Pilot , a ships log and a shackle for our new anchor . We still haven’t a light list , but no one else seems to have one either . We’ll probably drop a couple hundred here , but then will really be set . We changed our course again . Instead of sailing across Lake Huron , we’re going to take a longer but more beautiful cruise through the Canadian Northern Passage .

Another sailboat bound for Florida has been watching our progress as we have been watching theirs . They were surprised to see us in Charlevoix ahead of them since they had assumed we didn’t sail Wednesday . There were gale warnings out that we didn’t know about since our radio has no working frequencies . This I found very sobering . Thankfully we will have the channels we need when we leave here .

Dave’s dad showed up here today , taking us by surprise and out to a great dinner . He seemed happy with our seemingly self-sufficient responsibility and resourcefulness . We told him Dave was quitting his smoking and that pleased him no end .

Tomorrow at about nine we’ll have the boat out of the water and we plan on working on it all day . In some introspective self-criticism , I decided I could make life in our confined space more livable with a more amiable attitude . So I’ll be working toward that goal from now on . I hope I’ll be successful . We seem to live together well and everyone is fairly easy going . Everyone had a turn at sailing in high winds yesterday and we all have gained in confidence . If all goes well tomorrow , we’ll leave for Mackinaw Saturday . The winds are high at this hour , 10:30 pm , and cool .

Yesterday we sailed through a bridge that opened for us on signal , one long blast and one short . Our horn sounds sick .

Daves dad said Glen V.O. didn’t believe we could make it from Sleeping Bear Bay to Charlevoix in one day . That made us feel great . I guess we will have a very long run Saturday ; around 80 miles . I really think we are doing alright . I’ll have to write home and Mary soon .

We may have a traveling companion in that blue striped sailboat I wrote of earlier . I guess we’ve got a fairly appealing route . Boy , am I beat again . There are a lot of ducks here .

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Dave recieves the following letter at a future port :

” I wrote to you in the other letter about Dad and how sorry he was about that night and hoped he talked with you , so I hope you have forgiven him … keep praying for him and all of us . Love , mom ”

… and folded inside this : ” If it stays this cold (38) tonight , looks like the end of golf for the year . Great you quit smoking . Get a haircut , shave , clean your ears , don’t wear flair pants .   Dad “

Beatitude Point … continued ( 2 )

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” They tell me I must wade into waters , where I will soon drown . Before I march in , I leave this on the shore for you . I pray you find it , sister , so you will know what was in my heart as I went under “.  Khalid Hosseini

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Chris’ Journal entry : September 16 , 1972

 

“I arrived three hours late for our departure and was much concerned with the possibility of hard feelings . These fears were soon dispelled and I found my friends benevolent . Our first day proved itself to be a sailing thrill tempered by unsettled stomachs and big heads . Dave and I suffered some discomfort because of the previous nights activities .

We left the port of Holland , Michigan at 11:00 am – sighted only two other sails and a cabin cruiser during the four and a half hour cruise to Grand Haven arriving at 3:35 pm . After docking , we confronted the various problems of supper , a satisfying if not epicurean feast . Hot dogs with carrots and peas washed down with some High-C orange filled the cavities that had been emptied by reverse peristaltic motion .

Dave worked on the radio antenna and we heard our first weather forecast ; gale warnings with 35 mph winds and 12 ft. seas . Needless to say we spent our time securing gear , putting on extra dock lines , trimming our new hatch boards and caulking last minute holes . I decided to shower and the others went out on the pier and came back describing nature in awesome terms .

It’s poker tonight and a welcome early sack time . I feel like calling home to let them know everything’s ok . I’m afraid I left an impression of disillusionment “.

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1972 marks a black year in history , not only because of the continuing Vietnam war or the escalation , like strong currents , of the Nixon scandal , but also a blackness due to the use of terrorism entering the sports realm like a huge octopus with the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Arab gunmen in September , which now links together an invisible fishing line hooking deep into the events of 9/11 . Gods world of ’72 is in turmoil … a tide of turmoil where sea anenomes are beached into colorless form : “Bloody Sunday ” in Northern Ireland , a Lufthansa jet hijacked by Palestinians , General Idi Amin beginning his reign of terror in Uganda , earthquakes of 7.7 destroying entire cities in Turkey and Nicaragua and in the Andes Mountain range , 16 survivors from a plane crash are rescued after practicing cannibalism and the following benediction is heard at a random High School Graduation ceremony :

May God bless you with discomfort ,

At easy answers , half-truths and superficial relationships ,

So that you may live deep within your heart .

May God bless you with anger

At injustice , oppression and exploitation of people ,

So that you may work for justice , freedom and peace .

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer from pain , rejection , starvation and war

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them

and turn their pain to joy .

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in this world

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done .

In the name of the Father

and The Son

and the Holy Spirit

Amen

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The music and lyrics  of Bob Dylan’s ” My Back Pages ” is heard from the distant shore , ” Ah , but I was so much older then , I’m younger than that now “.

Beatitude Point

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There is a dream , found in the attic of a memory . It is of my brother . The memory is vague like the weak signal on a radio dial . The days previous , listening in on two separate conversations , one from his daughter at a family party  and the other from my sisters ‘ husband at the Leelanau coffee shop , these conversations become the rope that knotted the year 1972 to 2014 and tightened my consciousness to the mystery of the boats ” point of sail “.

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They name her ” Venture “, a 28 foot Larsen sloop built in 1958 , and the small dinghy floating behind , ” the orange peel “. The orange fruit an ancient symbol of the sun , a symbol too of ” good luck “. Two names of paradox , one meaning to go somewhere unknown and dangerous with risk involved  and the other ” good fortune “. It was to become a poignant paradox and one that would loosen that rope from the sail boats safety of the suns’ warmth , into the depths of death.

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Chris , Dale , Buzz and my brother Dave , each being 19 or 20 years old then , boarded their shared vessel on Lake Michigan , after waiting for Chris who was usually late . It was just past noon on September 16 , 1972 , Venture bobbing gently in Holland Harbor under the protection of ” Big Red ” lighthouse . The sounds of  Deep Purple could be heard rockin in the background with ” Smoke on the Water “, as a large Bon voyage group of family , including cousins and many friends cheered them on . The mood was festive and some there would return to find their destiny together 40 years later with two of them embracing the long return of young love that had its beginnings that blue grey sky autumn day , a momentous day after the beginning of the biggest political scandal in modern times broke , Watergate , with Grand Jury indictments .

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To be continued …

photograph of girl in water by Lara Zarkoul Photography