6-17-18 [su] I think about and pray for all the churches of which I have been a part each Sunday morning. This morning I stopped at Forsythe. Too much to remember and pray about to go on.
I started wondering why it was that I blossomed, came into my own, at Oakland City, and realized it was because I felt safe there, for the first time.
In Indpls, I did not feel safe, at home, at school, in the neighborhood. I did feel safe at East Park Church, but that was a small amount of Indpls time, over all.
This morning I recalled one of my fist times at Forsythe. We had just moved to the farm. I was ten. A really big tree had to be cut down on the southeast corner of the church bldg. and the cemetery. Mr. Heathman—nearest neighbor and church trustee--took Daddy and me, to meet some other men there one evening, to cut it down.
There were no power saws then, of course, in 1947, so they cut it down with a cross-cut saw. Took a long time. For the first time, I saw my father interacting with other men in a friendly fashion. They seemed aware of his handicap, but also realized that he was strong, and you didn’t need much eyesight to work a crosscut.
I didn’t think of it that way then, of course, but cutting down that tree together outside the building was as much church as the worship we did inside the building.
When I was a cancer patient and advocate, and reading a lot about medical settings and procedures, and listening to patients and survivors tell their stories, I learned that the basic thing any patient asks in a medical setting is, “Am I safe here?”
Safety is a strange thing. Obviously, if you are a patient, you aren’t safe, either from the disease that threatens you or the procedures designed to heal you. Yet as a patient, you know if you are safe, spiritually, even if all kinds of bad things are happening to you, physically.
In many ways, life on a primitive farm was less safe than life in Indianapolis was, and certainly cutting down a big tree with a crosscut saw is not a safe activity, but the farm, the neighbors, my classmates, and especially Forsythe Church—there, for the first time, I felt safe.
Now, having intended this just for my journal, trying in my last years to understand my first years, as usual I’m not satisfied with not sharing it, so I think I’ll post it in CIW, even though “officially” I have stopped writing CIW.