The easy part was finding "homes" for our youngsters. The girls were eager to go to a friend's home who had been certified by the State and the boys went to a home that appealed to me. There were other boys, the home was definitely led by a caring man and I was comfortable with the plans. I expected we were on our way to real solutions for our most serious problems.
The Greyhound bus left on a bust Saturday afternoon. It was May 9, 1975. I went to sleep while we were riding past the desert areas of Southern California and after more sleep at night, we were in Phoenix, AZ, in the early morning hours. Time for breakfast and I began to realize how unprepared I was for this trip. Breakfast left me with $10 in my pocket. That made me realize how important it was for all of us for me to be very careful about how I spent my resources. I would need to get back to California So, as we headed North, I decided I needed to "bone up" on my Bible studies as I would be meeting with a man, I assumed to know the Bible from the first page to the last.
Where to start? Certainly not with the Older Testament as every attempt I had ever made to read the Bible would leave me confused as to why it was discussing old men with long names that were next to impossible to pronounce and places that made no sense to me. I decided to start where Jesus started in His ministry and that would be easy for me to find. Everything He was supposed to have said was printed in red letters. That was easy. It was in the forth chapter of Matthew, the first book in the Newer Testament, the 17th verse, where he says, "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand,"
Repent! Repent? I had no idea of what that word should mean to me. Although I had been attending church for most of my life, I could not recall of anyone who had ever even mentioned the word. And I was supposed to be meeting with someone I thought knew everything there was to know about the Bible?
I looked out of the window of the bus as it roared through the deserts of Arizona as if I was asking for help in defining that word, repent. I have no idea as to how long it took for me to start recalling my childhood, but then I was and in particular, it was those arguments my Mother used to have with my Grandfather about the "costs" of keeping me on the farm. I recalled that I was surprised by what my Grandfather was saying as I had thought I had been helping them - as sort of payment, but what hurt me was the fact that it did not sound as if I would ever be living with her. It was through those arguments that I would learn my Father was seriously ill and now as I reflected on those conversations, I remembered that I knew my Father had died, but no one had ever told me what had happened. I knew that I grew up almost hating my Mother for abandoning me - at least that was the way I thought about it, and now I began to realize, I had a real reason to repent. I no longer loved my Mother; in a sense, I hated her. I had real reasons to repent.
And I tried to do just that. But I began to realize I had other issues. I always seemed to reset my friends for what they had and I did tot have in way of clothes, toys, parents that did things for them, like taking vacations and I never had anything like that. I had vividly remembered the trip my uncle took my grand parent to visit the World Fair in NY City and I thought, I would never get to do anything like that. Even when I was getting ready to graduate from high school, the others were talking about college and I just knew, I could never do that. Issue after issue flooded my mind and now, I had failed my marriage and my responsibility for my children. I was doing my best to make sure the others on the bus did not see me or worse, hear me.
So, I prayed and sobbed, sobbed and prayed, until it stopped. A peace came over me that just the thought of how it felt thrills me to this very hour. "God", I pleaded, "does this mean You have forgiven me?" I happened to look out of the window of the bus and it was dark outside and raining. I could see the lightning flashing against the mountains in the distance and as it did, I watched the wind of the bus as it raced through the night, sort of "rolling up" the road dirt and pushing it across the window. I thought, "Oh my, does this mean my sins are being washed away?" - a phrase I had heard so often in church. I don't know how to explain it, I felt that they had. I vowed to God, I was through with "sin" as I knew it, in my life. So, I turned on the overhead light and began to read so more.
That too, was amazing. I had tried several times over the years to read my Bible. I always seemed to have one available, but it was lost cause. I would read a few verses and quit a as it seemed like I would never understand what it was saying - to me. Now, I could not get enough and it seemed, every verse I read had a definite meaning to me.