Dé Céadaoin, Samhain 30, 2005

Somthing in my pocket

I have somthing in my pocket. I bought it to remind me that no matter where I am or what I am doing I am always the same. I bought it to remind me that I am a man, a tool of God, shaped with purpose. Useful both in the earthy work of everyday mundain labor and the intricate motion of art. Hard and fast, pounded out in the heat, shaped and reshaped, broken and forged anew. I feel its weight and know my burden, to live.
Thoreau says in his Book Walden, "I went to the woods becasue I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." I've always loved thoreau. Many think of his time at Walden pond as an escape from humanity, to better understand nature, to be the original hippy, but Thoreau went into the woolds and found himself, moreso he found what he needed. I went into the woods in search of a prize, a four legged one to be exact. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find somthing I had lost. You see hunting is in my family, the woods are in my blood. Think what you may of hunting, because I really don't care. Be you a animal rights activist or the President of the NRA. I go hunting because I enjoy nature, because I like seeing the animals more than I like shoting at them, because it's the only thing that my Dad and I truly and exclusively share. I go into the woods because that is where my Father has lead me there.
So I went into the woods before the thought about being up on monday morning. As the day streached on, I found myself regaining somthing lost. I found in again in me a sense of hushed excitement. My heart raced as I loaded my rifle, not at the thought of shooting it, but that it might go off. I thought of the power I held in my hands, cold forged steel, rough wood. I felt it's weight. In my hands was a marvel of human ingenuity, each peice thought over, scretinized and finally put together. But as it came light the thought came across my mind, "you aren't seriously thinking about killing somthing today?" I struggled with that question as dawn broke, I wondered if I could aim and pull the trigger. I wondered if I could do what was necessary. What kind of Christian would I be if I killed one of God's creatures? The boy screamed at me not wanting to feel that guilt. That moment never came, sitting under my tree I never saw anything.
Later that evening, before I left to go back to work I got a chance to talk to my dad. We were both disapointed, neither of us saw anything that day. But in my dad's eyes I saw the same disapointment that I felt in my heart. We both felt as if we had let each other down. Dad had failed in putting me in the right spot to see the deer, and I had failed my dad by not shooting at anything. You see this is my first hunt in five years. Before that I was never lucky enough to see anything, and now five years later I'd failed agian. Dad has been waiting for that day, when he can stand proudly and snap a picture of my and my first buck. But we didn't talk about it, but we both knew. We had failed. The feelings of power were still there, but fail loomed.
It wasn't untill I was a hundred miles away, driving down I-80 in my car, that I relived any of this. I cried a little thinking about my dad, how I wasn't sure if I would ever get to hunt with him again. How he must see this, trying to pass down skills that he learned from his dad. I thought of the rite of passage that we were both waiting for me to take, yet relizing that I had already step beyond it. I thought of the voice in my head that morning that tried so desperatly to keep me from what I wanted, telling me that it wasn't christian, that it wasn't moral. And now it spoke again, as it sensed my failure. "You couldn't do it if you had the chance. Your not man enough." The boy sneered at me. So I looked him in the eyes. I remembered my Dads smile, saying that he was proud of me. I remembered the feeling of holding the gun in my hands both fully of knowing how to use it and willing. I remembered my reason for going out, to simply spend time with my dad. The boy shrank away. The boy doesn't understand the gentleness of a man. He cannot comprehend the ability to possess power in raw untamed form and yet not useing it.
I woke up tuesday morning, uncomfortable being in a warm bed. I went to work, and was disapointed at not being challenged. I drove in traffic wishing I was in the woods. I thought that yesterday wasn't real, that it was exception to the rule. No one can hold power, no one can truly be a man. So I went to walmart. I picked up a few items, shampoo, deoderant, contact solution. I walked around for a while, not wanting to end the day in defeat, knowing that there was power to hold. But it wasn't in clothing, it wasn't in video games, it wasn't in food, it wasn't in tools. I walked until I came to the knives. On the wall there hung a folding knife, a little longer than my hand. I thought about the process that made it, the time, effort, ingenuity, patience, strength, and power. I picked it up, paid for it and walked out of the store.
Power doesn't come from the things that we have. Power comes from the one who fashioned us. It comes from the one who holds us. There is nothing special about the knife I carry in my pocket. It can't open itself, it can't hurt anything, it can't be disobediant. In it I see myself. I have no power except that which was given to be by my Craftsmen. I cut myself on it last night making sure it was sharp. It's a dangerous tool, just as I am a dangerous man. Dangerous not in the way that I'm armed and ready to kill, but I'm dangerous because I'm desperate. I have nothing to lose. Power has been placed in my hands, power to infulence the world around me. I have a knife in my pocket, because I am a dangerous man.


Amy said...

Great thoughts, Aaron. I especially liked this line:

The boy doesn't understand the gentleness of a man. He cannot comprehend the ability to possess power in raw untamed form and yet not useing it.

miss ya! :)

elizabeth said...

I agree. Good thought (even if it was over three paragraphs, I read it all!)

The closing is powerful.

Warrior said...

Aaron- Don't know if you remember me or not, Joshua McCracken, I travelled on a BBC summer team with Liz Stewart about three or four years ago. Liz pointed me to this blog entry because she knows that what you wrote about is part of my heart as I've expressed it before. And aaron, you just wrote part of my heart in those three paragraphs. I can relate to you on the hunting part, being from Central Pennslyvania and growing up with hunting being part of my life. I miss getting those days off from school just to go hunt. There is something about nature, something naked, unashamed, and savage. I love it, I feel most alive there. And it is there that God has also reminded me of who I am, that I am his child, but more than that, I am HIS and not just a weak small child, but with him living inside of me....I'm a ferocious warrior. Not because of me, but because, like you said, I am being wielded by one who is skilled and ultimately much more dangerous than anyone could ever imagine.

Right now, I am 7000 miles from home in a land that does not know Jesus and this was a good reminder for me that I am his warrior. That I am His, here.

Joshua McCracken