At this Moment
THE DAY IS June 6, 2018. I decided to write the closing chapter of this book on the two-year anniversary of a day that transformed my life. The time is 4:32 am. I stand beside my aunt’s newly constructed boathouse overlooking a wooded landscape I thought would present a sudden sunrise to help me discover the words to finish this book.
When I decided two months ago to schedule a personal day to write this final chapter I anticipated watching the morning sun coming over the horizon just as I did almost two years ago. However, as I stand underneath another midsummer rainfall, I realize the sun is not happening today. I already drafted a few short paragraphs to spark my imagination, but I intend to write this entire chapter as I stand at this moment.
Today is a day of reflection, another moment of silent contemplation. It’s been almost six months since I first said the words I believe in God and in the process of writing this book my reformed faith is stronger than ever. I have no idea what today is going to bring, but I am confident the unifying force I have chosen to embrace will give me the strength to finish this book.
The cold northwesterly wind is driving the damp drizzle into my face while my tired hands tremble to type this sentence. The morning song composed by the surrounding birds is starting to fuel my words.
There is a slight wrinkle in the blackened water gently pushing up against the massive rocks. It is not an enormous ocean that stands before me this morning but only a small pond.
Although darkness and drizzle surround my innermost thoughts, you need not worry about me because you cannot see what is about to come over the horizon.
Over the last couple of years, a blackbird had presented himself to me in moments when I needed inspiration. I didn’t ask for the bird to join me in those moments, but today is a new day. Unlike the other three times, I already asked him to come.
Reading this, you may assume the blackbird represents God. It would be a reasonable assumption, but you would be wrong. The blackbird is not my representation of God, but God is the one who sent him.
The blackbird represents many things to me. Freedom, perspective, inspiration but at its core it embodies a spirit that lives inside of me. I don’t know how God is going to reveal the blackbird to me today, but I trust he knows a perfect way. I expect him today because I have faith he will show.
Out of nowhere, I see him.
I’m not sure how to explain what just happened to me because I am afraid you will never believe what I just experienced. I’m worried you will think I made it up because it sounds unbelievable. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it myself. I am going to try and describe what I just witnessed, but I’m not sure my words will do it justice.
When I decided to ask for the blackbird to join me today, I had romantic visions of a majestic bird flying from the distant sky and landing directly on the railing surrounding the boathouse. It would look in my direction as a loud caw vibrated throughout the air while I wrote the final word.
I thought it would be the perfect ending to my book. I was confident I would see a blackbird because I already saw a couple standing in this same spot writing the chapter about my grandfather’s death.
I knew I would see one, but asked God to bring the blackbird in a way that would confirm without a doubt my belief in his presence.
Immediately after typing the words I have faith he will show, it happened. It was quicker than I anticipated but out of nowhere a blackbird blasted from the heavens and descended on the railing. It was the exact dramatic scene I had in my mind when I pictured his arrival.
I knew he was coming, but I am still in shock at the strategic timing. When I saw him freely standing on the wooden railing, I fell to my knees as inextinguishable laughter circled the boathouse. I laughed so hard involuntary tears rolled down my puffy cheeks as I put down my phone to savor the magic of the moment.
He didn’t look in my direction or say anything, but I knew he came for me. He said nothing and everything all at once. He resided on the railing for a minute before he dove to the dewy grass right outside the door. I could barely breathe as I tried to inhale.
I opened the glass door to see if I could approach him, but as soon as he noticed me, he flew into a nearby tree. When I looked further up the thick tree, I saw him posing with two other blackbirds. They sat on different branches of the tree, but each one stood in perfect sequence.
As I’m writing this, it seems unbelievable, but the fact I saw it with my own eyes is undeniable.
You can call the other moments a blackbird appeared in the last two years a coincidence, but there is no mistake what I just experienced was the presence of God.
I was planning on waiting all day for him to arrive, but he had other plans. I am prepared to find the words to finish this book not because of what I saw but because I am not alone.
While I write this book, I work the grind of a nine to five. I also have two children under the age of five and a wife that needs extra support to fight the demons that call for her daily.
Everything surrounding my life would provide a great excuse not to finish this book. I have the perfect story of why I don’t have the time to continue working on my dream. I could’ve hit my snooze button this morning, but I decide to get up 4am every day to find my words because that’s what it’s going to take.
I choose to script a story where the lead character fights each day to find the strength to rise above depression. I am not discouraged I didn’t see the sun this morning because I don’t need the sun to shine to be free.
I have faith I will finish this chapter today because I feel a deeper connection between the sunrise and the darkness. God had a different plan to bring me the words to finish this part of my story.
I have given away more books than I have sold but I feel closer to my dream than ever have before. I have released my attachment to the outcome. It doesn’t mean I have given up on my goal. I have faith because I know what my part is in the process. I have faith in what I cannot see because I now have confidence in what I feel.
I write every day because I want to be an example for my children to look to when the world explains to them their dreams are not possible.
I’m not going to stand here and pretend the path is easy or paved with gold. If you want God to perform miracles, you need to put in the work. Some days will be a desperate struggle, but every time you fight through the pain, you lay down a yellow brick along your road. Every time you keep your faith in hard times you put down three more.
Every time you trust in God, your path will present itself. It may be a long and winding road, but this is when you need to be strong. The time will come because the journey is preparing you.
When I think back to a couple of years ago, I believe that was the day I died for the very first time. There were no funeral arrangements to be made, and I didn’t see any bright lights approaching from the distance. I had no idea that a fateful summer day would be the beginning of a strange journey I still find myself walking today.
I didn’t fall to my knees to pray to god that day, and it would be almost two years later before I said the words I believe in God.
If you were to ask me back then, I would tell you God didn’t exist. He was a figment of your imagination, and you were a fool if you believed in a fictional character from some outdated book.
For so many years I was told to look up to find God, and if I were a good boy, I would go to heaven and see him with my own eyes. No one told me to look within myself. I was told to look on the outside when the true power of God is born in the hearts of you and me.
I have been writing for over three hours, but I still have work to do. Right now, I hold in my hand a rectangular metal pendant my daughter presented to me when we first arrived back in my hometown.
The words “choose happy” are engraved on the back. I kept it in my pocket the moment she gave it to me because I understand the importance of these words. The fact my daughter gave it to me gives it even more meaning.
Gently rubbing the engraved words with my thumb, I realize my intention was never to search for God but only find a place where I could feel peace. In my pursuit of happiness, I have learned that if you do the things you love it will inspire others to do the same. It wasn’t until recently I realized my inspiration came from God.
Every time I questioned myself my writing seemed to rise to the surface. From an eighteen-year-old kid trying to find direction to a thirty-seven-year-old man trying to find meaning in his life. Every time I questioned myself on the journey of life, God gave me my answer.
Writing has always been a guiding light in my life and some of the most satisfying moments in my past involved my writing.
When I decided to make it a purpose I was brought out of the dark to see the delicate beauty of what it represents.
The time is 9:03 am. With my phone at nine percent, I decided to take a drive to recharge my battery. I wasn’t sure where I was going to go, but I now find myself sitting in the same place I first told my brother my new belief in God.
I was nervous sitting in the position over a year ago, but I no longer have the same secret fear to express my faith in God. I am so sure God is with me now because I can see him everywhere.
I see him in the continuous waves of the ocean as they crash into the rocks. I see him in the rocky landscape as it welcomes the salty water to the shore. I see him in the young man a hundred feet away pointing his panoramic camera at this exact scene trying to document the picture only he can see.
I even feel him sitting on the empty bench resting right in front of my rusty car. Since I can’t find the words to continue this chapter, I think it is time to sit on the right side of that bench and fasten my headphones. I have no idea what song is coming but have faith the moment will inspire my words. So, I will go and see what happens.
I am so cold my whole body is shaking, but I will endure because I know what awaits me on the other side.
The chilling rain from yesterday is soaking into my blue jeans and the intensity of the wind rises as the light drizzle from this morning feels much stronger behind the enormity of the ocean.
“It ain’t about the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away.”
The song on the other end is Rollin by Ish. I listened to this song almost every day before I left the big city, but as I hear it now, it feels right. If you listened to the words to this song, you might not feel it as I do. That is the beauty of art and the power of expression.
When I first heard this song, the beat brought me in, but now the lyrics are bringing me out of the illusion I can’t find my words. I believe God reaches through music because he knows it’s a perfect way to connect with our soul. Music always has a way to lift my spirit when silence cannot. It triggers a part of me that wants to be free.
While I write these words, a second blackbird is flying overhead. There are dozens of blackbirds in this area, but the one that just flew down the concrete path to my right has caught my attention.
He looks no different than the rest, but something inside tells me another story. My curiosity lifts my wet feet toward the path. I choose to follow him and see what words await my arrival.
Walking for a few minutes, I now find myself standing on the edge of the ocean. I want to get closer, but I cannot swim. I see a bench below, but I am nervous to get close to the unforgiving rocks. My anxiety tells me to walk away, but my heart tells me to investigate what may exist beyond my apprehension.
I understand my fear is not real, but I hesitate to make the journey down. I can’t see what is on the other side, but I feel I should walk closer.
What I find on the bottom is a stone cross standing on the edge of the cliff. I shake my head in disbelief. I wanted this day to unfold itself to me, but this is to perfect. On the cross sits three plaques for three men, who drowned right where I am standing. I can’t help but think if these men had been taught to swim.
Looking at the cross in amazement I make my way closer to the edge. Only a chain link fence is dividing the limitless ocean and my underlying fears. My hand grips the cold steel rail as the sound of breaking waves pushes my childlike imagination to the edge.
My hands are getting numb, so I decide to walk back to the car and warm up. Making my way up the rugged hill, I notice another bench inviting my words. I want to sit down, but there is one more place I want to revisit today. Maybe I will come back another time and see what words I find on the right side of that unoccupied bench.
The time is 12:06 pm. I intended on writing this entire chapter at my aunt’s boathouse, but now I find myself sitting in the park where I first said the words I believe in God.
The relentless rain is coming down harder as I stand beside the same hidden waterfall where I started this book. I am seeking shelter under the overhanging trees, but I can hardly punch the keys as the fresh water drips onto my mini keyboard. I’ll take this is a sign to enjoy the moment.
I wanted you to experience this chapter with me now because I understand a moment is all we have. Just like my journey over the last couple of years I had no idea how this day would unfold. I had no plans on revisiting this place today, but I followed what felt right, and this is what I have.
My head is on a swivel because I’m anticipating a third blackbird will show himself at the same spot I announced my belief in God. I’ve been circling, but I don’t think he is coming.
It’s not easy for me to share my story, but I do so with the hope that someone reading these words can find a light that desperately wants to shine.
Over my journey, I have had many challenging moments and struggles that knocked me down, but those unexpected moments are the ones that helped me rise. I believe in every failure there is a light that can awaken a spirit if you choose to see it as directed and not as a defeat. There is beauty in your struggles because on the other side is a strength to overcome them.
I now find myself standing on the wooden pier to the left of my aunt’s boathouse. I remember when my grandfather and I pushed our little fishing boat out into this same water. We would sit in the middle of the circular pond for hours talking about life. I can almost feel him with me as I write this.
I can practically see the wrinkle in the water as my little hands toss the red and white bobber over the side of the scratched-up metal boat. It’s such an intense feeling. I could find beautiful words to match the picturesque scene behind my uncaged eyes, but I didn’t come back today to reminisce about the past. I have done enough of that already. Today is a new day, and I have a brand-new story to write.
There were a couple of things I wanted to experience at this boathouse today. I wasn’t sure how the first one would play out but what I experienced this morning still seems like a scene out of an animated children’s movie. That one I left up to God but the second one is under my control.
A few months ago, I decided to write a hidden message in a bottle and toss it into the still water as an alternative ending to my book. My thought was maybe someone would find it and rethink their relationship with God.
I thought it could be another perfect ending to my book but changed my mind. I don’t feel I have to do this anymore. I believe my book will do it for me.
I have new inspiration on how I should experience this moment. I decided I will pour the water from the bottle into the pond to symbolize my connection to God. Before I listen to the unmistakable sound of the stream connecting, I have something I have to tell God.
What I am about to say I will not write. The only thing I can tell you is that when I hear the water connecting with each other, I will say the words I trust in God. The rest is mine.
The time is 4:32 pm. These will be the last words I write. It’s not the end of my journey by any means. I type these words sitting in the parking lot outside my daughter’s daycare. In a few minutes, I will type the last words to finish this chapter of my story. I can already picture the innocent smile on my daughter’s face as she pokes her head around the corner and realizes I am ready to take her home.
I’m going to tell my daughter precisely what happened to me this morning after I strap her into her car seat. She is only four years old and probably will never remember this moment. She has no idea of the importance behind what I witnessed today. The reason I will tell her what happened is I am still waiting for a third blackbird to end this part of my story.
Over the last six months, my daughter heard the song blackbird booming from my phone as I was writing this book. She has even started to sing the words to the song.
When I explain to her precisely what I witnessed this morning, I believe she will release the blackbird one final time through her familiar words. I am readily prepared for her evening song to complete this part of my journey.
When you dare to reimagine your own story, I believe your connection to God will appear.
I will go and embrace her now.
Maybe one day I will write the sequel to this book, but for now, you will have to imagine the ending for yourself.