A spiritual journey out of the Persian desert
Special to the Daily
The following is part two of a three-part series excerpted from “Journey to Eschaton,” a spiritual memoir written by Summit County’s own pastor shredder, Bud Hill.
To live on this planet with true purpose requires us to be born not only physically but spiritually. Metaphorically, we are one of billions of “God particles” containing not only a biological but also a spiritual DNA. Within the angst of our human dilemma, our search for a way out of our ignorance and into the truth, requires us to not only find out what we are suppose to do but who we are in the process. My backpacking around the world not just once but twice would have been a futile effort if it had not brought my soon-to-be-wife Bari and I out of our old ways of living and into God’s new.
In March 1973 Bari and I went into the Persian desert outside of Shriaz, Iran for a picnic. We did it up big—samovar, carpets, kabob and rice, even a gallioon (water pipe) for smoking some tomback (tobacco). After a meal and a couple of hours just hanging out, I decided to take a walk out into the desert. For years I had been seeking God. There had been moments of knowing but I was looking for someone or something that would forever change me. As I continued to walk it got silent without and loud within. In the stillness of that moment the voice of God should have been loud enough to hear. It wasn’t because my voice was louder, “God, are you real; do you care? I’ve been seeking, searching for you with all I’ve got and nothing! Do something God, do something!” The heat seemed to suck up my words for the wind to blow away. As the silence intensified all I could hear was my heartbeat and no apparent response from God. I returned discouraged and disappointed.
Two days later an evangelist from the UK preached at St. Simon’s church. Bari and I attended with a friend named Phil. I don’t remember what he preached but his passion for Christ impressed me. After the service Bari and I returned to our home with Phil and sat on our Persian carpet past midnight talking about God. Before Phil left he asked if we wanted to pray. We said yes. As we did my mind lit up like a light bulb and my heart was strangely warmed. “Did that really happen last night?” Our answer was “Yes!” The joy was overwhelming—like a baby who giggles with its mother and when so full of joy it is overwhelmed looks away—we couldn’t contain ourselves. We hurried to the home of the Anglican priest and his wife to tell them. We rang the doorbell. When the door was opened by his wife we burst forth, “Guess what happened to us last night?” She didn’t wait for us to tell her as she went running through the house announcing to all that we had given our lives to the Lord.
From March to the end of summer God picked up the pace as we traveled from Iran through India and back to America and on into three years of seminary training. After this season in academia we began eleven years of ministry in Texas. From the adventurous to the mundane, life settled into the routine of being a pastor although there was always challenges and changes that kept us “in shape.”
I end this column today with a couple of humorous accounts of those days: There was Ruby and Delmar. Ruby was a member in the church, Delmar was too but he never came because he felt guilty owning the only pool hall in town. She had a son named Johnny who was backward in ways but gentle in spirit. Both Johnny and Ruby (who weighed over 300 pounds) had been baptized in the tub in their bathroom. It happened before I came and I’m glad it did. Ruby also had a little vibrating dog named JoJo and a monkey that would jump all over the place. Their activities, especially JoJo’s singing on queue as the monkey jumped from one of Ruby’s shoulders to the other, had the flavor of Ringling Bros circus. Going to Ruby’s for a pastoral visit was always interesting, especially the barbed wire fence outside with coyotes always hanging from it as a sign to them saying, “No trespassing!”
Our worship services were awesome but the logistics at times were problematic, one in particular was our plumbing. The septic system clogged up once in a while. One Sunday we were rockin’ in the Spirit when all of a sudden the aroma of sewage started to waft from the back of the chancel past my nose as I was preaching. I motioned to a couple of elders to check it out. They did. It was the commode backing up into the baptismal of all places! With God’s help we got through the service but I still don’t know how I finished the sermon smelling what I did. We corrected the problem the following week but were always leery from that point on of the next smelly sermon coming out of the pulpit.
You can get a soft cover or e book copy of Journey to Eschaton at http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore or amazon.com.
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