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  #21  
Old 08-13-2019, 09:19 AM
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Default 3. Michael

The next morning saw the son traveling south along the shores of the Sea of Galilee where a lone mariner drifted along under the sunbursting fog.



At the village of Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene, the son beheld and felt with his hands the unearthed ruins of the synagogue where scholars claimed with supreme certainty Jesus came to teach. Michael became noticeably emotional as he described the site as being one of the most poignant in the ministry of Christ.





Michael took the son south along the Jordan River for a time until the bus came to a kibbutz and stopped. Everyone got off. Michael asked if any in the group wanted to be baptized in the river. The son did not. He already was. He wandered alone toward the river to be by himself for a time. While others were getting baptized, the son gazed into the fish-filled waters and beheld ethereal reflections on the Jordan's surface, himself feeling lifted up and carried away as gently as flowed the current below him.





It was the same current that brought the son to Jerusalem, having followed the Jordan River all the way south past Jericho, then climbing up through the Judean Desert and arriving in the afternoon heat.



After getting checked into the hotel, he walked the streets of Jerusalem toward the Old City, entering its walls first at the Dung Gate. The son walked through the streets and marketplaces and once again felt himself feeling invisible, like a blended-in grain on a patchwork of mortar that everyone else chose to ignore and glance away from, he being caught up in the excitement and sorrow and unfathomable repercussions of his presence there, as if to know but to not reveal what those repercussions might be, even down the roads he walked. But walk them he did. Unseen, unheard, and unfelt.







And then he walked back to the hotel, cutting across a dried-up and barren cemetery with thousand-year-old sarcophagi glowing in the twilight over hundreds of others that seemed to be lost to anyone's care or recollection or sense of memorial but his own. So he marked his path, went up to his hotel room, and slept soundly through the night.

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  #22  
Old 08-13-2019, 09:20 AM
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Default 3. Michael

Michael brought the son to the Garden Tomb the following morning. Just outside the perimeter rose the white bone-like cliffs of Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, a traditionally held site of Christ's crucifixion beyond the walls of the Old City.



Below Golgotha and neatly cut into the limestone over 2,800 years earlier lay the family tomb which, traditionally, many believed to belong to Joseph of Arimathea who, following the Passion of Christ, used it to bury the body of Jesus. Thus, it was given also to be the traditional site of the Resurrection as depicted in all four Gospel accounts. The son went inside.



After he came out, he was taken to Bethlehem where he visited the Church of the Nativity, the traditionally-held site of Christ's birth. It was crowded with people as they were herded like cattle into a funnel-like cavity where, below, countless numbers came to view the sub-altar shrine.







One morning, the son woke up and looked out over Jerusalem . It was a day of thick clouds and darkness as an unusual fog drifted with the breeze over the tops of buildings and buried nearby hillsides in a pall of sun-drenched gloom.



It was a day the son would not soon forget. It was a day filled with foreboding and vision and joy and impetus, a thrusting to completion of his whirlwind visitations before heading back to America with a certain sense of purpose. Michael intimated a robust plan for the day as the son and his group boarded the bus. It was a day that began with burial at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where a pipe organ filled the son's entrance into the sanctuary with deep, heart-cutting reverberations as he neared a second tomb, this one held in Catholic tradition to be the site of Christ's burial and resurrection.







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  #23  
Old 08-13-2019, 09:21 AM
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Default 3. Michael

Michael led the son through the Old City, walking the Via Dolorosa, the traditional Way of the Cross and the nine stations found along the streets. By late afternoon, they had reached the Mount of Olives. The son stopped and breathed. There lay before him a seemingly infinite host of tombs and sepulchers and sarcophagi, a vast hillside stacked with marble and limestone lids that blanched the Jerusalem foreground with a lifeless chasm that chiseled its way downward like a massive quake-shattered staircase.





Standing there in the heat of the afternoon sun as it beat down on the chalk, looking out over the hopelessness of stone and grit and gravel, the son felt the father near, and a sudden sense of urgency and impatience swept over him like a windstorm born of an unquenchable wildfire. There came a vision of limestone lids being blown off by percussion, a blasting and rattling in darkness under the orangeness of flame and smoke, and the rattling of bones and sinew being sewn together out of the ashes and dust and diggings of millennia past, an unconscionable splitting of earth and sky, and a voice breathing life into every resurrected being of an unfathomable multitude standing before him.

And from the heights of the Masada Fortress to the receding depths of the Dead Sea, there came a descending joy upon man and beast alike.



There came a spirit of favor as the Tower of David stood awash in the warmth of a coming twilight.



There came the laughter of children running excitedly through the city square.



There came the purposeful stride and the throb of buying and selling and getting and going and coming in commerce and traffic.



There came the bright spill and splash of modern color upon the Old City walls, where rebuilding and ruin, ruin and rebuilding had lavished her heights with an astounding history of conquest.



There came a witnessing of evening worship at the Hurva Synagogue and the Western Wall.





And there came at last, through street and alley and pathway and tunnel, the son walking alone through Jerusalem and preparing his heart for the next day's journey back to his mother, back to his people, back to his home, back to America. There, an RV-8 awaited a month-long journey through the continent, where the love of a departed father continued sending the son, where freedom and promise and hope and destiny persisted like a sign at the end of a long tunnel. And it did not take him long to get there.

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  #24  
Old 08-14-2019, 02:24 PM
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Default 4. Talitha Koum!







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  #25  
Old 08-14-2019, 02:25 PM
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Default 4. Talitha Koum!

Four days after returning home, the son was with his mother listening to a community-sponsored American tribute concert at the old Presbyterian Church in downtown Merced. There were sing-alongs, vocal solos, and instrumentals of some of the most beloved and well-known patriotic pieces in the country, including the three-verse version of The Star-Spangled Banner, God of our Fathers, This Land is Your Land, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was Sunday evening, June 30, 2019.



The next morning, the son packed up Descending Dove and checked the weather, not knowing how far he would travel or even where exactly, only feeling led to follow the voice of Resurrection still resounding in his head from the songs of the night before, from the richness of his experience in Israel, and from the prodding he felt pounding deep within his body. The plane was ready. America waited.



After departing Merced, the son climbed up to 11,500 feet and struck a course that he and his father had flown eleven years before on the way to Oshkosh, directly over Yosemite National Park, Tioga Pass, Mono Lake, and beyond through the Nevada desert.







In the Desert MOA beyond the Tonopah Test Range, he saw a couple of F-35s dogfighting directly in front of him as he made a descent toward Panaca, NV. The pair maneuvered south and well below him by the time he made his final descent into Lincoln County (1L1) for a quick fuel top-off and a walkaround of the Dove. There was a firefighting attack base stationed on the field and one of the crew was making equipment adjustments in the back seat of his truck. No fires were yet in the area, so the base was quiet.



The son launched again out of Panaca and was jostled by thermals for another 125 nautical miles before landing at Richfield, Utah (RIF). Why he was landing there he did not know, but he knew not to argue with the vision or the voice that had lately become so alive and active within him. It would have been pointless to ignore the call to touch down at Richfield.



He parked the plane on a cross-shaped tie-down on what appeared to be the area designated for general aviation. It was the only side of the airport with hangars, so he shut down, got out, and started wiping down the Dove for the night.

Within a short time, he was approached by a tall, slim man with a baseball cap and a tee-shirt. With him was a young man in his early twenties, of the same build and posture, who resembled the older remarkably in manner and speech. They were father and son. After complimenting the pilot on the plane and asking about the experience building it, the older man introduced himself as Jonathan Edwards, a Baptist pastor from a congregation about twenty miles south in a town called Marysvale. His son's name was Seth.



The two were about to go flying together in their C-172 Skyhawk. The pastor wanted to know what the pilot was out doing. What brought him to Richfield all the way from California? He told him. He told him that his father had died in December and that he was being sent across America for the first time without his father being alive in the world anymore. Then Pastor Jonathan Edwards and Seth rested their hands on the son's shoulders and prayed for a safe, uneventful journey, to be filled with the joy of life and living, and above all, to bring glory to God who had sent him.

Then the father and son walked a couple of tie-downs over, pre-flighted their Skyhawk, cranked over, and taxied out.



The pilot watched Jonathan Edwards and Seth go airborne. He covered up the Dove and felt a deep compulsion to begin walking toward town. There was something that he needed to see, but he wasn't sure what. He had a thermos-type water bottle. There was a hand-levered spigot behind the plane that he used to fill it up. The water was cool and clear and cold. It tasted good. Then he began walking. He could feel himself being drawn.

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  #26  
Old 08-14-2019, 02:26 PM
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Default 4. Talitha Koum!

At the approach end of the runway, he saw the pastor and his son gliding over the road ahead of him and touching down after a flight lasting about thirty minutes. The heat of the afternoon was rolling off the valley floor and carrying cumulus clouds in a patchwork over the dry grass and fields.



Not far from there he found an abandoned hotel with crosses painted on every door. It looked as if it had been shut down for many years.



It did not take long to make it into town. He was standing in the heat of the day on a busy thoroughfare, an apparent highway that ran the length of Richfield and was heavily patrolled by a number of Utah State Troopers. He walked northward through the city center.









The son walked into the Richfield City Hall building to cool off for awhile in the air-conditioned hallway by the DMV office. It was very hot outside, his shirt was saturated with sweat, and he sat down while people came in and out of the DMV. When he felt cool enough to venture outside, he walked across the street to the city's central park where a few parents and their children were playing under the shade. Then they suddenly left him sitting there by himself.



He got up and walked over to the opposite corner of the park where three little girls were selling freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and lemonade. They were Olivia, Daisy, and Lexie. Together they called themselves The Rainbow Wonders.



He bought several cookies and a cup of lemonade and thanked the girls for the refreshments. He felt better afterward, even strengthened to move on.

Crossing over a canal, the son came to where he had felt so drawn earlier. It was an ornate Veterans Memorial. He approached the memorial slowly and examined the markers with a mixture of both relief and great care and scrutiny. There were words and specters there that cut deeply into the son's heart.



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  #27  
Old 08-14-2019, 02:27 PM
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Default 4. Talitha Koum!







There came with the afternoon breeze a strong feeling of certainty, a feeling almost of recollection from an earlier dream that had been immediately lost upon waking but had now poured into his mind as clearly as the axioms stamped boldly before him in granite, that in the memorialization of Richfield's fallen soldiers there was being heralded the coming of loss far worse than even he could imagine. And like the lost dream, the feeling dissipated with the patchwork of clouds overhead as he lay on the grass under the shade of a mighty elm. He spent considerable time there. When the afternoon sun began slanting sideways in the heat, the son began making his way back to the airport.

He stopped and had dinner at a local burger and fries shop called Sandi's. He was too famished to cook dinner for himself that night, so he ate heartily and hungrily.



He walked back to the airport and watched the hot air curling the clouds toward the mountain range to the east. He could see thunderstorms preparing themselves in the far distance for a night of electrical showmanship.



Back at the airport, the son found another firefighting attack base on the east side of the runway. It was a quarter mile from the hangar complex, and when he got there, nobody was around. He found the FBO building unlocked and unattended, and the attack base looked as if final preparations were being made for a busy fire season. But not a soul stirred in the area.







It looked at first like he had an air-conditioned place to sleep for the night, so he walked the quarter mile back over the runway to the other side where the Dove was parked. He went to get his flight bag, sleeping bag, and toiletries. But when he got over there, he watched a jeep pull up to the FBO and two guys get out. They went in for a few minutes, then came out and locked the door and drove away.

So the son wandered around the hangar complex and watched the sunset begin to set reminders aglow about him of who he was, of where he had been, and where he was going.



Behind a closed-down airport diner called The Pinup Cafe, the son found a place to set up his tent behind some shrubs. A residence nearby with lots of activity inside and out made privacy a bit awkward. But there was a large brick building that blocked most of the wind that otherwise would have made setting up the tent more challenging.



By the time darkness had fallen, the son was ready for some sleep. He pumped up an air mattress, undressed, and lay behind the bushes in the tent under the stars. Then he looked up and saw their beauty and their brightness and the cheer of their leisure, and the son could see the Rainbow Wonders smiling back at him innocently.
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  #28  
Old 08-18-2019, 06:20 AM
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Default 5. The Lamb







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  #29  
Old 08-18-2019, 06:22 AM
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Default 5. The Lamb

He slept on edge most of the night. In the early hours between the half-night-half-morning when time itself was lost to the half-light of the galaxy, the son awoke with his face and body flat and numb against the earth. The air mattress had deflated. He re-inflated it but felt himself sinking again toward the pull of the ground below him. So he just rolled over and napped sporadically in a fetal position until he drifted into something of a slumber. He awoke before sunrise, struck the tent, then packed the plane.

After topping off the tanks, the son blasted out of Richfield and headed southbound toward Bryce Canyon. It was a perfectly clear morning without so much as a ripple in the air as he circled the canyon a few times and proceeded south beyond the pink cliffs to his starboard.







There was no other traffic that morning as he proceeded through the Fossil and Dragon Corridors of the Grand Canyon, breaking east over Marble Canyon and into the heart of Navajo country.













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Old 08-18-2019, 06:24 AM
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Default 5. The Lamb













At Kayenta (0V7), he cut to the northeast up Monument Valley. The air continued to be clear and perfectly smooth. He could see the rust-colored erosion of the landscape below as it passed by in silhouette, telling unspeakable tales of pounding and scraping and scratching into dust of the red-gold soil by winds and rains and runoff since time immemorial.







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