Wednesday, February 01, 2006


She held her little boy’s hand as best she could. The five-year-old squirmed and pulled. She was talking to her neighbor, a sixty-year-old gentleman who lived a few doors down in the same boarding house.

Leukemia would take her within a few months. She hadn’t any money. It was 1916 and she could barely do her job at the laundry. The mining explosion in childhood had burned her hands so badly she couldn’t fully open them, but they gripped laundry well enough. Now they struggled to hang onto a little boy.

Who would take care of little Albert?

Robert looked down at his neighbor’s child.

“I’ll do it.”

“You will?”

“Yes. I’ll do it. I’ll marry you, and Harvey will be my boy. I’ll take care of him. I’ll raise him.”

So, the little boy, Harvey Edstrum, son of an occasionally drunk, occasionally abusive father, became Harvey Greenleaf. His mother died. He grew up, working with his dad as a migrant farm hand. He married, and 18 years later, divorced. He moved in with his son, my father.

He taught me how perseverance at an ice cream machine crank paid off. He taught me how to tip a waitress for a morning cup of coffee (leave a nickel under the saucer). Grampa bought me cherry Mountain Bars at the cafe on the way to kindergarten each morning, and a Squirt soda and maybe a box of Cracker jacks (with real toys) on the way home.

He moved out before I finished kindergarten, bought a grocery store in Paradise, California. He married a woman with three teen sons (one of them broke my bike). A couple of years later those stepsons got drunk, argued, and killed him.

That’s all I know about them. I don’t know my great grandmother’s name. I don’t know her first husband’s name. I failed to learn and remember little more of my family history than a few paragraphs, a faint echo of their lives. In less than a century the struggles and achievements of a life are forgotten.


We want people to know who we are. Today. Forever. We want them to love us, respect us. We ache to be noticed. We are born needing constant attention. If we don’t get it we will die. We demand to be fed, to be held. It doesn’t stop when we learn to feed ourselves.

It’s more than a physical need. It is a soul need.

Something deep inside wants attention, craves it, needs it.

Why write this blog? Is it a personal exploration, or to help others, or is it a cry for attention? Am I crying into the darkness, into an empty spot deep inside and shouting “Look at me! Hear me! Think of me! Look at how I string words, thoughts, together! Let me affect you! Let me show you truths and in doing that you will see me. Then I will know I exist.”

Why do I get upset when my wife is a little controlling? Because I want to be recognized for being the man of the house. Because I want to be respected. I want to be king.

Why am I irritated when a student interrupts me? Because I want to be the source of authority. Because I want to be respected. I want to be king.

I want to be important. I want to make a difference, I want to be remembered.

I want...

I want to be loved.


What is the point in raising children? Those who cannot have biological children learn something about the need for them that others often miss. When the children don’t come, when the heart has moved beyond sex and is forced to consider children in and of themselves, something deep inside begins to throb, to ache, and the heart and the mind start casting about for a way to grasp the source of that ache and fix what is broken.

I used to think children were about reproduction. I thought they were about the need to replicate ourselves, to create an echo of ourselves. To pass on our insights and ideas and views and attitudes. To do such a good job in raising children that in someway we would survive. It was about leaving a legacy.

Today I am wondering... maybe the act of raising a child is an echo of something else, something more real.

Today I’m wondering...

I sense a spot in my soul, not in my mind, or in my spirit, or in my body, but in a part of me that seems eternal, that longs for something magnificent. I sense a spot in my soul that longs to reach out, to reach up, to see my Creator and pull His face towards me.

I think that is the truest part of who I am... a being who yearns, who longs, for his Creator to look at me.

Perhaps the raising a child is about that longing, that relationship.

I feel something when I look at my children, it is difficult to describe. As I think about my feelings toward my children that spot in my soul throbs.

I think that spot has a name. An inadequate name, but a name that touches upon the yearning, the longing, the “father thing,” and the stuff Jesus tried to explain. I think that spot is called “love.”

I was created with a soul, a part that is above the mind, beyond the body, a connection between my spirit and eternity. In that soul there is a place that is designed to plug into God, where I am supposed to be getting instructions. I am supposed to be connected to something bigger than myself. I’m supposed to be in the presence of the source of all things. It is something that will tell me who I am and what I am for. That spot is called “love” only because we haven’t words to describe the thing, no, the person, that makes us complete in a way that being a husband, or being a father, cannot do.

I used to think that I would be someone great. That I would leave a mark in the world. Now I know that billions of people have lived and died, struggled and achieved, struggled and failed, and their great grandchildren didn’t even remember their names. Their echoes faded away.

I’m not concerned about that anymore. And I’m not concerned if anyone is reading this blog. I like it of course. Just as I like being a husband, a father, a teacher.

But I am more concerned about what is supposed to be in that spot. I want to reach in there, like it is some hole into another dimension or something, and grasp the hand of my creator and have Him pull me through, to turn me inside out and have that hole become my skin, to cover me and not carry it on the inside, but spread it over all that I am and let it fulfill me.

I think the longing I feel, especially at this time of year when I prepare my heart for Easter, that empty spot throbs harder, louder.

I think that in my craving to love and be loved I am echoing the throbbing I hear when I listen closely to what is coming out of that void. I think my whole life, in trying make my children an echo of who I am, is all about trying to amplify that deep throb inside.

My failures in loving those around me as my Lord commands is really a failure to echo clearly the voice of God who is speaking into my own void of sin.

When I try to make a mark on my world, whether it is in doing what is right, such as raising my children, or doing what is wrong, such as being impatient with my wife, whether producing a cable tv show, or creating a video for my church, it is all about shouting who I am because I am having trouble hearing who He is.

How trivial will my efforts seem, my shouting to be heard, when that void is one day filled for all eternity.


Jim said...


Thanks for the last few writings. You poured your heart out and I don't have words of wisdom for you.
I will pray for you and Jeremiah and Brenda. I will pray for your relationships with each other and with the Lord.
I will be praying also for the outcome with the insurance company and other happenings steming from the fire.
You have done a wonderful thing in rescuing Jeremiah. I know you have the love of the Lord for him.
I will also pray for attorney help for you. Lawyers can get very expensve but there are some real good volunteers out there. Especially Christian lawyers wanting to help in situations like yours. You could start with your pastor if you don't know one personally.

curious servant said...

Thank you Jim.

I appreciate greatly your prayers.

Sometimes when things get a little intense I take a step back and write a post like the one above. But I don't mind going back over the past posts with readers.

I am very blessed by God to have people willing to come here and leave me words of encouragement and share their concerns and prayers.

I'm not sure what will happen next. I have turned that letter over to my home owner's insurance agent. I will wait to see if there is a lawsuit directed at me before I hire an attorney. At this point the only thing I know would happen if I got an attorney would be I would be paying an attorney.

Meanwhile, I pray each night with my family, I take my own spiritual disciplines seriously, and I wait on the Lord.

Cute story: Last week I came home rather late, exhausted and fell asleep on my bed. Jeremiah came in quietly when it was his time for bed and gently woke me.


"Uh? Oh. hi Jeremiah. Is it bed time."

"Yeah. I didn't want to wake you."

"That's ok, buddy. You want me to pray for you?"

"Yes please. But you don't have to get up. You can do it here."

And with that he picked up my hand and placed it on his head.

Isn't that sweet?!

Anonymous said...

i admire you're being so open about your life's experiences. they're deep and full of soul. your struggles, joy and fulfillment as a person are so real, so meaningful. thanks for sharing all these to us because you're helping us see things on a different angle.

i'll continue to pray for you and your family. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good cry, CS, :)
thank you for sharing this,
God is with you, and your family
as always in my prayers,

Alexa said...

Wow, C.S.
All I can say is that you ARE something.
You really ARE.

God bless you.
I know everything is going to be okay. Don't worry.

I'll keep you in my prayers.


bjk said...

You touched alot, on all of us much to think and pray on...what a gift...thanks b

Bruce said...

I agree with what everyone here has said, you certainly have a gift. Maybe it's the teacher in you. Or God Himself reaching out through you and touching that spot in all of us. Good stuff. There are at a least a few who read you.


curious servant said...

Thank you! Yes... there are a few folks dropping by. I'm a little surprised.

I put a counter on June 27th.

On Christmas eve it hit 10,000.

Since then it has added another 6,000 hits. And this doesn't count page loads. Hits must be at least one hour apart.

I am amazed and humbled.

I'm especially grateful for folks who take the time to pray for us.

Thank you... all of you.

Joyce said...

*sigh* (tear falling down cheeck). You are such an encouragement to me--to many of us. We visit because it is a blessing to come here and read about someone who stands fast in the face of so much anguish.

That "spot". I think it is a "God shaped" hole--the truest form of love there is.

Blessings to you, friend.
I'm still praying.

jollybeggar said...

yep- blaise pascal coined the 'God-shaped void' idea for posterity.

leaving a mark. establishing something of merit or at least of value. the teacher said 'all is vanity- chasing after the wind.'

as long as we seek to answer the eternal with the temporal we miss the point, don't we?

who are we? better to ask 'whose are we?' the answer lasts longer, doesn't it?

bless you, man.

Judas Hate said...

I just fell in love with you:-)

After catching up with your last three posts, all I can say is you amaze me.

I am in awe of your strength and faith.

As far as greatness and who will remember, if anyone: If we never stop trying to do what HE asks of us, freely give and accept love and trust, always try to do what's right instead of what's easy, does that not make us great? Even if noone else remembers once we're gone, HE will. Isn't that enough?

As much or as little as my prayers may count, you and your family own them my friend.

As far as he goes, I think he's pissed because he knows his void can never be filled. He's jealous of your love for HIM. And his is pissed because he has no power over you.

Once again, I've let my mouth run off without me.

Be strong, well and loved my friend!!

Lillee said...

HA. I have that song from "Lion King" in my head, "I just wanna beeeee king."
Isn't that the truth? We all want to be something, but how many of us want to be what our Creator has made us to be?
It's all in the submission.

FTS said...

So many questions for which we may never have true answers until He returns. Good post, very thought-provoking.

Fred said...

Wonderful writing.

As a teacher, I know what you mean. Interestingly, I find myself almost a parent to some of these youngsters because they aren't getting the attention at home.

I have to go back and read this again. There's lots to think about.

Anonymous said...

CS, praying that you and family are safe and warm tonite, and know god is with you all the way!
GOD BLESS and good nite

wilsonian said...

CS- I love the feeling that I/we are around to bear witness to the unfolding of this calling on your life.

And thank you forgiving remembrance to your very brave ancestor, who trusted another with her son. As you describe how event could have unfolded, I am reminded of all the African women, most married and monomgamous, dying of AIDS, and trying (often in vain) to find someone to care for her children. Can't imagine the heartbrake involved in that.

curious servant said...

Good nite my friend.

By the way... I think I'll call that last pic I did "The prodigal"

Bethany said...


Thank you for sharing. I truly enjoy reading your blog. You have a very interesting way of baring yourself, I guess, is a way to put it.

I don't know if you remember some of our e-mail correspondence in December and I asked you if I could quote you...well, I finally did. So I thought you might want to check it out!


Lucy Stern said...

You know, we are all children of God. He loves each and every one of us. When we have children and go through all the trials and tribulations of raising them, then we know how our Heavenly Father feels about his children as they grow and learn. We love our children and we laugh with them, cry with them, feel their pain and joys. Our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us as we go thru life here on Earth. I think we learn a lot about our Heavenly Father by being parents ourselves....It's important for our eternal progression.

Julana said...

"When I try to make a mark on my world, . . . .it is all about shouting who I am because I am having trouble hearing who He is." Very interesting thought.

David said...

Again you are right on the mark. Well done.

Ragna said...

Will, It's an honot to be your friend. You enrich my life with your creative writing and deep and heartfelt expressions.
May God give you 'good' days and may He fill your 'spot' with more and more peace and love. May you overflow........

Christopher said...

“Look at me! Hear me! Think of me! Look at how I string words, thoughts, together! Let me affect you! Let me show you truths and in doing that you will see me. Then I will know I exist . . .” Yes I feel this way too at times and I also I just want to make geniune connections with others. Thoses connections, when I trully hear another’s heart beat and when they hear my heart beat, make me feel alive (meaningful).

“. . .a connection between my spirit and eternity . . .” I’ve started reading through Genesis and have been surprised once again how primitive God’s first people were and they seemed to realize that their future provision, legacy, and hope was tied up with their offspring. God gave those primitive ones hope through their offspring . . . maybe we’re not so much more sophisticated than Abraham was back then.

“I used to think that I would be someone great. That I would leave a mark in the world. Now I know that billions of people have lived and died, struggled and achieved, struggled and failed, and their great grandchildren didn’t even remember their names. Their echoes faded away.” Yes, just had this thought today. Just want to be effective, good dad and husband. How my heart sinks from time to time with feelings of failure . . . but I have to give in and let God’s grace lift me up.

Thanks for your connection.

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