Beatitude Point – Part 2 – Francis – 2014

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How long is 7000 years ago ? Is it part of this moment , 11:02 a.m. in October . I see my fingernails caked with dirt from living this summer in a tent in the backwoods and history is facing me . Sleeping Bear Point , the place on the way to someplace else : … standing at the dunes tip now feels like I could swim there . The whole point fell into the water once . You think you know everything about something . How much could there be to know about a big pile of sand . Then you realize you don’t know anything at all . Down the coast lays Pyramid Point and in the other direction , the town of Empire . Their names of antiquity , telling , making me proud to live here . As I’ve gotten older I realize I’m certain of only one thing … Days that I can feel the world in orbit are better than days when I cannot .

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Standing above the Bay , I see the northern expanse of the dunes , that languid golden pink length of sand , so much sand , looking so soft , especially when the sun sets and rises . The dunes have an abstract , cryptic beauty and the light changes everything in view . To see these dunes is to be aware of primal forces , the air , earth , fire and water create a strong emotion . Every grain of sand was once part of a rock . The winds and waters shifting over and over again evolving new formations . If everyone on earth suddenly vanished , would cats and dogs de-evolve into creatures more akin to their feral ancestors and would they be standing on a mountain stone climbing to Venus ?

I love strange beauty , not normal beauty , not popular beauty , not the kind where your friends agree with you , but just the opposite . Life is not supported by the sand – nothing grows here and if some little sprout manages too , the sand blows and smothers it . The dunes are an acquired taste , a developed love . I want to hike from the top , down to Lake Michigan in the west but knowing this distance is deceptive , that it is so much farther to the water than it looks , I want to understand the ways of these dunes that I’ve climbed since childhood .

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My name is Francis . I live here now . The year is 2014 , the year of the Ebola Virus outbreak , the Syrian war and when ISIS seizes large regions across the sea . A Malaysian airplane went missing with over 200 passengers aboard , months ago and still never found . Record cold weather roared across the United States and Peter Gabriel is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . The new Apple I-phone 6 just came out , water vapor is detected on the dwarf planet Ceres , my son’s girlfriend is obsessed with ” Doctor Who ” and my brother just discovered that the social security system has had him registered as a female since his birth in 1952 and so his retirement benefits are in jeopardy .

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Cat Stevens ( Yusef Islam ) is going on tour this year , the last time being in 1976 . His music captured me tight the only year I went to college , walking into a record shop , hearing ” Peace-train ” , ” Morning Has Broken ” , ” Moonshadow ” and ” Where do the Children Play ” . I was stunned then and I can hear the music drumming in my mind , a heritage of memory in its pleasure still . And what about the album cover – you know , the one with the sun , tree and the path with the Tillerman drinking tea in a fairytale of colors … the first album I ever bought . Just last week I heard him interviewed on Public Radio – ” I get the tune and then I just keep on singing the tune until the words come out from the tune . It’s kind of a hypnotic state that  you reach after awhile when you keep on playing it , where words just evolve from it . So you take those words and just let them go which ever way they want . Moonshadow ? Funny , that was in Spain , I went there alone , completely alone , to get away from a few things . And I was dancing on the rocks there … Right on the rocks where the waves were , like , blowing and splashing . Really it was so fantastic . And the moon was bright , ya know , and I started dancing and singing and I sang that song and it stayed . It’s just the kind of moment that you want to find when you’re writing songs . “

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I  wish you could hear the sounds of my place , a place of strange language , words within the waves of a Great Lake . I wish I could take these background rhythms everywhere with me and when I opened my mouth , that is the word you would hear . Just writing this , I feel both a tremendous sadness and joy , a wanting from within , something ecstatic . I choose my words carefully about these feelings . I don’t know what this is or where it came from or just when it began . I never thought I could find so much in the passage of a distant white sailboat below the dunes . Something has changed , last night my brother ,Dave , gave me an old journal written by his dead friend and part of me wants to mark this as the moment of change , although I know that it isn’t . The change is something that has come more slowly , perhaps it even began before I fell in love that first time , or second or third . What that change means I don’t know , just like I don’t know if I’m happier or sadder than I have ever been . There is a purpose in all this although I do not know yet what it is . There is so much more that remains . For most of us our stories can be written long before we die , there are exceptions among great men in history but I am not one of them . It is a crazy world but a world that is somehow still brand new to me and now I’ve turned into a writer where I was before an artist drawing life like a silent stow-a-way . These are my new words , written words as I sit for hours in this lone coffee shop where today I spotted an older man with a spark in his eyes who slowed down to take a look at me while John Mayer works his magic singing “Gravity” thru the radio playing amidst the coffee aroma and life goes on .

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Gravity is working against me

and Gravity wants to bring me down

Oh , I’ll never know what makes this man

With all the love that his heart can stand

Dream of ways to throw it all away .

Gravity is working against me

And Gravity wants to bring me down

Oh , twice as much ain’t twice as good

And can’t sustain like one half could

Its wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees .

C’mon keep me where the light is

C’mon keep me where , keep me where the light is .

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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 … ( # 6 ) …

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Wednesday , 9-20-1972 , Chris’ journal

 

Once again that verbally abused box woke us at 5:30 . I was up first at 6 a.m. The alarm went off , but Buzz continued to sleep . Dale screamed , “Buzzy” and I leaned over and prodded him simultaneously . Buzz jumped , hit his head on the cabin wall and finally said something about getting up , but fell back to sleep when I produced some lame excuse about it being too rough outside . Finally things began to happen . I threw the cushions out into the cockpit , opened the blower port , pumped out the bilge , took photos of the boat from the dingy and took down the cockpit flyer ; all before a breakfast nobody liked . It was instant oatmeal , instant coffee and a ration of bacon this morning . After breakfast Dale and I washed the dishes and then I accompanied Buzz and Dave to a Standard station rest room . On our return we found the genie sheets out and Dale working on the gear shifter . He found the adjustment device , but lacked the necessary tools to complete the repair . While the other two busied themselves within the cabin , Dave and I stowed the small genie and rigged the jib . We weighed anchor at 8 o’clock and sailed out of the harbor called Sleeping Bear  . We had another traumatic experience with overloaded sails before we left Sleeping Bear . We seem to have found the solution in letting the sails out , spilling the wind . For this contribution to our collective knowledge we thank Dale . I freely admit my fear of the knockdown situation and find myself unable to relax ; something to overcome . We are making great time ; probably around 6 knots . We should make Charlevoix by 4:30 p.m , then showers and supper shortly thereafter . And what a supper ! We decided to splurge since we would be here awhile ( till Saturday ). We were in high spirits so we hit the Between Decks Bar , consuming 4 or 5 pitchers of draft beer and having a high old time ! Wow !

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It’s too late to turn back for Buzz too . Hoping to make it to Charlevoix by nightfall , he will party with his mates but feels like they need ” watching over “, often thinking they are immature in their risk taking behavior . He understands history , his major after his first year of college . The lake is calm and opens wide as he takes the helm navigating northwest with a sound knowledge about sailing unlike his crew .

His mind drifts like the white clouds shadow , a shadow of false tranquility  , a shadow smoking the clearness of the earths day as he worries about Dave’s possibility of being drafted with his low draft number of 36 . With his mind now crossing a continent under this shadow of history to the war that makes the earth a swelling and uncertain ocean causing seasickness for his generation , he is thoughtful . Somewhere , a captain tosses in bed , his comrades wet and waiting in the slime of the hot jungle terrain for the enemy to appear under the musky rain of Vietnam … surrounded by buried hearts in the piles of mud near the slow flowing river tributaries . He prays Dave never hears from the draft board .

” Buzz ? Are we on course “?

Buzz is brought back from his spell and the annoying moth that has been flying in a circle around him , invading his sleep last night while it searches for the moons light in order to fly straight , now invades the cabin . ” Get the fishing net ! … that moth won’t leave me alone “!  He knows this will make everyone laugh , being aware they think him a stern skipper !

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He must remain cautious of the Ventures direction . The lack of trust in his crew mates sailing knowledge haunts him like a dripping faucet at the back of his mind where a vision of ” The Poseidon Adventure ” , being pushed to her limits , is hit by a tidal wave and sinks , sinks to the deep , sinking into oblivion on the screen of Buzz’s mind .

Feeling almost love for Chris , Dale and Dave , he is thankful for his escape to the sea from his mothers dominance in her house of only males . . . his dad silent , silent like the bored students his dad teaches .. .his younger and older brothers , rebellious of a females control in their male majority existence . He controls this ship now , but knows he had better be less bossy – it is not the time for that . His memory turns back to his older brothers radio in the garage back home where he first heard the sound of rock music and the rhythm of the Byrds singing the hit , ” Turn , Turn , Turn ” . . .  Dave , Chris and Dale , his brothers now . . .

” To everything , turn , turn ,turn

There is a season , turn ,turn , turn

And a time to every purpose under heaven “.

He sites the lighthouse of Charlevoix , his reading of the charts perfect , the grey skeletal tower like the far away tower across Gods earth looming like that moth over Danang Port in Nam Djnh Province of Vietnam .

” Land mates , perhaps a bar “!

The seagulls , the flying insects , the jumping fish – all into the sky – the eye of the underwater squid awaits them in the yet distant reef off Florida where a world of hallucination exists – too late to turn back now …

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Beatitude Point … ( # 5 ) …

 

” You’re the strangest person I ever met she said and I said you too and we decided we’d known each other a long time “.

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Tuesday , 9-19-1972 , Chris’ journal

 

The alarm was set for 5:30 and we got up at six to discover a fine offshore breeze , east , shifting to southeast later in the day . A remarkable breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon really set the world straight . Dave and Dale woke with a heavy dew soaking their bags . Dale looked completely miserable ; he got in around 3:30 a.m. We cleaned up the cabin and cast off with amazing proficiency . The stiff easterly breeze pulled us along handsomely as we left Manistee at 7:00 a.m.

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Last night I had found out from a neighbor on board the ” A-lur-ing ” who in town could help us with our radio problem . So I called a Mr. Bob Cederhouse who told me the part would have to be ordered . We didn’t want to stay in Manistee for the rest of the week so he suggested Fairport in Charlevoix .  Dale hadn’t gotten around to fixing the gear shift yet , so we still have troubles with it . Just as we were crossing the mouth of the Platte River , the wind increased in speed and three times I was obliged to turn into the wind ; the third time almost being knocked down . We called all hands , Dave and Dale being below , to take down the small genie . Buzz suggested I jibe to come about but failed to loosen the small genie sheet which almost caused another knockdown . By the time he finally loosed the sheet , Dave and Dale were pulling down the small genie while the boat bucked on two to three foot seas . Holding it into the wind , the sail was secured and we turned on the engine in order to come about . Another sailboat , also bound for Florida , had been sailing under power with her main up . She took her main down and headed for the Platte River mouth . Around 9:30 a.m. We took down our main and powered through a grey morning . ( later that day we discovered it was Arcadia , not the Platte ). I took a nap shortly thereafter and woke up in Frankfort . We began sailing again off Point Betsie .

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We anchored in Sleeping Bear Bay , out first anchorage , and ate grilled hamburgers ashore . We cut our three-hundred-foot anchor line into three one-hundred-foot lengths , and whipped the ends above while Dave and Dale went fishing in the dinghy . Everyone is tired ; Dave is meeting Kristy Z. on shore and I’m going to sleep outside . Buzz is plotting the course for Charlevoix . We heard the registrations on the way . We’re missing the charts for Huron and Georgian Bay . We are also in need of a light list , crystals for channel 12 or 14 and a pair of field glasses .

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Sleeping Bear Bay : love interlude

She remembers him . His eyes clear , he doesn’t hide , she likes him , she remembers him from the Glen Lake church both their families attend in the summer . She is surprised at his bold phone call , they’ve never spoken before . She now walks toward the fire on the beach , he stands alone , his hair still wavy thick and long with a look intense and youthful . So much has yet to happen .

” Hey Kristie “! He yells as she approaches , hoping she doesn’t notice the little struggle in his throat .

Kristie is gazing about as she approaches close now and with the wind diagnosing her hair , releasing in front of him a sweet scent of perfume as she raises her arms to put her sweatshirt hood up .

” Here … I brought a blanket to sit on “. She sits , her long bare legs glistening from the firelight as she pulls her skirt over them  . The shoreline waves break and retreat .

” Is that your boat ?” , looking out at the moon lit bay .

” Yeh , and the dinghy here on the beach “.

” Where did you call me from “?

” I walked into town to the Standard Gas Station “, Dave responds remembering the neon sign on Glen Arbors deserted Main Street . And as they slowly begin to talk there exists suddenly a consoling rhythm to their words as if the earth was new once more and the sea comforting , and hours drift by and tranquility and excitement merge at the ease of their conversation , the eastward orbit of the earth propelling them towards the night at a faithful one thousand miles an hour . They embrace , the kiss enticing . She will always remember him and this horizon , a horizon indistinct with possibilities .

The morning is about to dawn .

” Kristie ? … write me “.

” Yes Dave , yes “.

The dinghy is loosing it’s hold on the deserted beach , the surf howls it’s laughter across the smooth stones and they wave , Dave and Kristie , they smile , they wave again , they hope .

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Dave climbs aboard the ” Venture ” , his mates asleep , he hears music wafting in the twilight zone on the new morn breeze crowded with flying seagulls …music from Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose , …

” Too Late To Turn Back Now ”

I found myself wanting her

At least ten times a day

You know it’s so unusual for me

To carry on this way .

 

I’m telling you I can’t sleep at night

Wanting to hold her tight

I’ve tried so hard to convince myself

That this feeling just can’t be right

And I’m telling you .

 

It’s too late to turn back now

I believe , I believe , I believe , I’m falling in love

It’s too late to turn back now

I believe , I believe , I believe , I’m falling in love .

 

I wouldn’t mind it

If I knew she really loved me too

But I hate to think that I’m in love alone

And nothing that I can do .

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Photo of girl with seagulls by Lara Zarkoul Photography

 

Beatitude Point . . . Prologue . . .

Alas , it is only now , after posting excerpts from four chapters , that I’ve written this prologue .

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Five years previous to Dave , Chris , Buzz and Dales sailing trip from the Great Lakes of Michigan to the Bahamas , Chris’ mother dies – he is only 14 years old . After reading his journal , I hear his mother calling out like a planetary song , to her beloved son from eternities realm thru these passionate lyrics of Bob Dylan’s . Dale and Chris drown together in Florida , five months into their dreams . Beatitude Point is the adventure story of four young men , friends , crew mates , united with the gleam of innocence still wet on their brow in the tumultuous year of 1972 , united strong on a journey still continuing over the galactic mysteries of the vast and mighty sea .

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A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan

 

Oh , where have you been , my blue-eyed son ?

And where have you been my darling young one ?

I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

And it’s hard , it’s hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

Oh , what did you see my blue eyed son ?

And what did you see my darling young one ?

I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it

I saw a highway with diamonds with nobody on it

I saw a black branch with blood that kept dripping

I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’

I saw a white ladder all covered with water

I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken

I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

And it’s hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

And what did you hear my blue-eyed son ?

And what did you hear my darling young one ?

I heard the sound of the thunder that roared out a warnin’

I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world

I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’

I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’

I heard one person starve , I heard many people laughin’

Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter

Heard the sound of a clown who died in the alley

And it’s hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

Oh what did you meet my blue-eyed son ?

Who did you meet my darling young one ?

I met a young child beside a dead pony

I met a white man who walked a black dog

I met a young woman whose body was burning

I met a young girl , she gave me a rainbow

I met one man who was wounded in love

I met another man who was wounded in hatred

And it’s a hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

And what’ll you do now , my blue-eyed son ?

And what’ll you do now , my darling young one ?

I’m a-goin’ back out before the rain starts a-fallin

I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest

Where the people are a-many and their hands are all empty

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters

Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison

And the executioners face is always well hidden

Where hunger is ugly , where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color , where none is the number

And I’ll tell and speak it and think it and breath it

And reflect from the mountains so all souls can see it

And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin

But I’ll know my song well before I start singing

And it’s a hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

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Dedicating in loving memory to Dale and Chris … Whose youth is their final episode .

 

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Painting by William Bouguereau … ” Pieta ”

Photos by Aela Labbe Photography

 

Beatitude Point ( # 4 )

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” And the earth was without form : and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep . And the Spirit of God hovered upon the face of the waters . ” Exodus 1:2

 

Dale , sitting on deck in the quiet of the night , feeling lonely at Dave’s escape , listens as the blurred sound of ” Columbo ” floats up from below . Dave is usually out here under the stars but now Dale is pinned alone to the hallucinatory pewter sky . He wants to fit in , uncomfortable like on a secluded beach . The four mates graduated together from Grand Rapids Christian High , an education based upon the Dutch Calvinist denominations strict principles and parental education , binding each of them to the other as though on a see-saw , each attached to an axis that would lift them into each others life . The taste of spray off the restless blue green sea , reminding Dale of all the warnings not to drink , swear , dance or have sex . All four of them are athletes and this too joins them like a school of powerful fish . Yet Dale , being the shortest and from a less affluent background , wonders if he is worthy … even though the others consider him the toughest , surviving two concussions on the football field and getting up to finish the game . Remembering his team mates admiration at his strength puts him in a momentary state of exaltation and he feels pride as a constricting sensation in his chest , close to pain , difficult to breath . . . this feeling overcoming the secret of his recurring headaches . He suffers one this night and grimaces with a wary painful smile , looking out to the empty cove backlit by the amber setting sun where silhouetted figures on shore break away and merge into a darker mass . The rolling waves bringing slumber … Tomorrow he will try harder , try harder to prove himself . The vibrations of Led Zepplin are heard and enter Dales spirit , opening a door to a different realm .

“Stairway to Heaven “

” There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west

And my Spirit is crying for leaving .

In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees

And the voices of those who stand looking .

ooh it makes me wonder

ooh it makes me wonder .

And it’s whispered that soon , if we all call the tune ,

then the piper will lead us to reason .

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long

And the forest will echo with laughter “.

 

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Monday , 9-18-72 ( Chris’ journal )

We’ve learned a lot today . We awoke to the alarm at 5:00 am , but Dale and Dave had to be persuaded to get up . After a fine breakfast of pancakes and milk , we tried in vain to contact the Coast Guard and raise the 6:00 am weather report while the rain continued to leak through a cabin joint on Buzz’s side and the newly drilled radio antenna hole . Dale also complained of a leak over his bunk . Dave and I seem to have the only dry corners of the boat . I called the Ludington Coast Guard with some difficulty , much to the amusement of the telephone operator . They told us to call on channel 16 and then switch to 12 , but as I found out later , we have no channel 12 . The forecast called for 20 mph winds and 2-3 foot seas which have yet to materialize . The predicted rain has also failed to fall . The day dawned gray and overcast in distinct contrast to a striking orange sunset that preceded the coming darkness last night .

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Pentwater was a small hole-in-the-wall type of town in which you could see from one end of downtown to the other . Presumably still half asleep , we cast off with great difficulty at 6:30 this morning . This difficulty can now be recorded with some amusement value , although it could have been disastrous . 

When we tied up last night , we secured our fore dock lines before our aft lines which were , as is commonly true , piles without a catwalk connection . This we perceived to be an inadequate procedure and promised each other to reverse the technique . I am about to describe something I still fail to understand completely and cannot afix guilt for the blunder for fear of disrupting corporate harmony and because both parties have expressed feelings of their own guilt . In any event , Buzz or Dave in the difficult task of casting off from our incorrect mooring , dropped a dock line in the water to attempt a rescue of the drifting dinghy . The dinghy escaped and the dock line found it’s way around the prop and rudder ( as we found out later ). Out of the slip now we discovered our problem and drifted helplessly toward the west side of the harbor . Since we couldn’t start the engine with the line around the prop for fear of damaging the line or the engine or both , I declared that someone had to strip and dive to untangle the rope . Buzz said we were gaining on the dinghy so I turned the boat to bear upon it as Dale divested his clothing . The water was bitterly cold and I suggested Dave watch Dale in case a rescue was necessary . About this time , Buzz retrieved the dinghy we had caught and asked if he should slow the boats progress by pulling it with the dinghy . I told him to go ahead and try . Buzz then suggested I try to turn the bow into the wind , but the wind caught us broadside and our speed increased ! Now less than 30 ft. From shore , Dale kicked his way down to the prop for the 6th or 7th time and un fouled the propeller . We started the engine not 20 ft . from shore . Dave had a towel ready for Dale when he climbed on board , leaving me to handle the helm and catch the dinghy line from Buzz . Dale , in his haste to reach the warm cabin , slipped and fell hard but with no apparent injury . We all breathed a sigh of relief , praised Dale for his work , and entered Lake Michigan at 7:00am.

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We cruised under power for about an hour and a half and then tried to pop the spinnaker . I watched from the stern as the others rigged the sail with some ” discussion “. It went up nicely but our wind soon failed and we took it down . It was up backwards anyway ! We saw two steamers on the horizon , but no sails until we reached Ludington around 10:00am . We docked at a gas stop called Wally’s and went to talk to the Coast Guard about our radio . In talking with the radio man we found out that our radio didn’t have the necessary crystals to communicate with the Coast Guard unless we were in an emergency situation . 

After refueling at a different gas dock , we left Ludington for Manistee , cruised under power along a changing coast  until 2:00 p.m. when we stopped at Dave’s suggestion and went snorkeling . This lifted my spirits tremendously . We pressed on an hour later to arrive at Manistee at 4:00 p.m. We ate Spam and vegetable soup for supper and had a couple beers at the Coral Gables Bar . I elected to take a shower while Dave , Dale and Buzz played pool and swiped apples . Dale’s got a date for 11:00 tonight . The alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. And Dave is sleeping outside .

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Beatitude Point ( 3 )

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” Dead Poets Society ” … excerpt

” O Captain , my captain … Who knows where that comes from ? Anybody ? Not a clue ? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln . Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating , or if you’re slightly more daring , O Captain , my Captain .

Why do I stand up here ? Anybody ? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way . They’re not that different from you are they ? Same haircuts , full of hormones just like you . Invincible , just like you feel . The world is their oyster . They believe they’re destined for great things , just like many of you , their eyes are full of hope , just like you . Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable ? Because , you see gentlemen , these boys are now fertilizing daffodils . But if you listen real close , you can hear them whisper their legacy to you . Go on , lean in – listen , you hear it ? … Carpe … hear it ? … Carpe , carpe dime , seize the day boys , make your lives extraordinary .  Boys , you must strive to find your own voice . Because the longer you wait to begin , the less likely you are to find it at all . Thoreau said , ” Most men lead lives of quiet desperation “. Don’t be resigned to that . Break Out “!

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Chris’ journal : 9-17-72

Dave and I were enjoying cooler temperatures outside , sleeping in the cockpit until about 1:00 am when gale winds off Lake Michigan brought us a pounding rain . We tumbled below and soon fell fast asleep .

The morning of our second day started at 9:00 am and all hands decided our days should start earlier . The wind might be better then . We’ll have to wait and see . After showers and a filling breakfast of sliced oranges , apples , pears and bacon sandwiches , we left Grand Haven about 10:30 am . The chores on board will have to be done after the days sailing , which is another reason for early morning departures .

Buzz was putting on the airs of the skipper this morning , noticed by Dave and Dale also . I hope this skipper syndrome will not endanger the harmony of the whole .

I’m studying the Rules of the Road and keeping busy with little odd jobs . The weather is clear and warm but the tremendous  winds of last night are nowhere to be found . We are having trouble with our gearshift ; it slips out of high into low without the constant pressure of a cord holding it back .

We sighted two large freighters leaving the Port of Muskegon today around 2:30 ; our first , but hardly our last . One was carrying cars on its deck and we cut his wake about 75 yards behind him . We waited just long enough to hear his warning blast before we came about .

we cruised under power all day keeping busy or amused with repairs and games . Dales constant adjustment of the water pump grease and discovery of another cooling system turn-off kept the engine temperature down .

The day began clear and sunny but ended overcast and sprinkling . Dale and Buzz argued about weather for awhile ; betting on the coming of rain . When it just barely sprinkled , they couldn’t decide who had won , so they called it off .

We argued about who should be assigned to wash the dishes while we ate a supper of canned beans , carrots , buttered bread and a quart of milk .

No showers for us tonight , but no slip fee either . We’re running low on ice and will buy some tomorrow . Buzz has an alarm clock and we’ll wake up early tomorrow . It’s raining lightly and Dave’s watching  Columbo on TV.

We called home to another world tonight and I didn’t know what to say even though I wanted to say something .

We have to check the charts , weather reports and call Coast Guard tomorrow to inform them of our ETA .

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As soon as the light begins to stream thru the gaps in the curtains , casting it’s strange reflections of Lake Michigan onto the wood planks of their cabin , Dave would arise to throw open the shutters and each time  wonder at the beauty that rushed in and exploded like the thrill of heeling over as “Ventures” sails filled , being pushed by the wind with speed picking up over the vast waters . All four crew-mates would admire the awesome sea with the orange dinghy tied behind the boat , bobbing in the waves with the mist rising above the dark wooded hills on the shore , and the way the first freighter of the morning joined in the current as it cut thru the open water , hissing like a ghost . They would gaze at this brilliantly colored realm to see a glorious and mysterious whole , their souls rejoicing to be alive , humbled at being part of something even greater .

” If people stayed outside and looked at the stars each night , I’ll bet they would live a lot differently “.

Seeing the ghosts of ancient ships lost like the Egyptian city of Heracleion sunken and shrouded in myths and legends , made them contemplate the largeness of history and their own smallness . They became drunk on the intense infinity shimmering all around them and it would sometimes overtake them .

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Note from ghost-writer : I hope you will hear Dave , Buzz , Chris and Dale speaking to you on their journey from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas … It is a true story about the essence of friendship , adventure  , love , anger , surprise , anxiety , joy and tragedy , life and death . The words from Chris’ journal are in their original form … I will note the order with each post with a number placed behind the title “Beatitude Point” in hopes you won’t get lost … Thankyou for being interested …

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