I am a fortunate man.
For most of my days I had Uncle Frank as a role model. He was one of those rare men that lead by example, not words. Uncle Frank died about a month ago.
Unk, as I called him, was a strong man with thick hairy forearms and a shining face always wearing a real smile. He was a man who cared for many and many cared for him. He touched lives quietly and without ego. I Loved him more than any man I have ever known.
Unk walked the walk. He gave when he had nothing left to give. He taught me how to be strong without raising my fists. He showed me that Words and Actions matter and that we should all try to be better People. He did this without thumping his Bible or preaching, without Hate or Bigotry. He taught me the Art of Kindness and how to be kind to those that cannot return it. I witnessed what he gained in the giving, the gift of the gift.
Unk showed me a Path into the Wild Places where I remain today, healed and better because of my connection to the Earth. Grounded to safe places, my untamed Sanctuaries.
I’ve decided that the second half of this book, or whatever it will become, will be about what I learned in the Wild Places and how I was healed there. I can only hope it helps someone, anyone, to a better Path. I’ll still write the blood and guts Cop shit but my story is more than that. I AM a Better Me because of Unk and Wild Places.
I just returned from a long road trip to visit these camps and dug through the ashes I left there years ago. I wanted to remember how and what changed me.
As the edges of gray find me I roll out of my sleeping bag barefooted on the damp red sand, wiggly toed and alive. I had finished another glorious night sleeping in the open, no roof of tin or tent to block my wide eyed view into the center of the Milky Way. The evening before I had laid out my coffee pot and stove to be next to me and ready to be lit. Within minutes I had my hands wrapped around a warm mug of cowboy coffee, black and strong. I clutch it closer to my chest to draw in all the heat it could give up. The purple light pushed against the absolute blackness as Night begins to give to Day.
In the red rocks above my camp I notice an unkindness of Ravens, maybe a half-dozen in number. They have staked out their perches of high rock. What do they watch for, what do they wait for? I begin to wonder and decide to solve the riddle through experimentation.
I climb atop the nearest big rock wanting to witness what they would witness. A Raven hopped away with a cantankerous caw expressing his displeasure with my trespass.
I Perch, my feet shoulder wide as I squat on my heels. Long shafts of yellow sunlight pushes across the landscape, behind the Joshua tree and into the narrow canyon. My back against the cool red sandstone, my face to the West.
For some dark shadows are reminders of places of ambush, of danger and death, of threat and trouble.
I began to see not the advancing light but instead the vanquished shadows. I watch as they were beaten back and away from me, in retreat they crawled into smaller pools. I celebrate the death of the gloom with a caw into the morning sky and a thump of my chest with a fist.
The Ravens take flight and circle over me.
I watch as the Raven soars with his lifelong mate, locked in their sky dance. Just the two of them, flirtatious and weightless, teasing and tempting while renewing their affection. Inky black against blue sky. A natural commitment grows between them.
I witness Love.
I am thankful for the lessons of Unk and the Raven
© 2015 – 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.