By John Thomas Tuft

It can be quite a shock to learn that the days of your youth are now a bygone era.  The long summer days spent outside, away from home, exploring, the adventures, the friends, the fights, the sports, the wonder, the hope that it will never end.  Going off to camp for a week or two and having that amazing, crashing sensation of finding someone you are attracted to, unsure even of what that means, but the sweetest dawning surety when they express an attraction to you, as well.  The intensity of discovering your uniqueness, the certainty of their ‘getting’ you, understanding what you think about, the absolute rush of that first touch…it’s forever…right? And then you go home.  And time moves forward, while your era is enthroned in your imagination.

*I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your dream, I’ll be your fantasy

I’ll be your hope, I’ll be your love, be everything that you need

I love you more with every breath, truly madly deeply do

I will be strong, I will be faithful, cause I’m counting on a new beginning

A reason for living, a deeper meaning, yeah

I push the button in front of a dingy door.  A man in a brown uniform lets me in.  The waiting room is deserted. Another man in a brown uniform sitting in a sweat-soaked cubicle demands to know my business there. I tell him and they both laugh.  “We’re going to have to strip search you. There was trouble on the cellblock last night.” They take me into a bare room, watch me take off shoes, shirt, pants, all the while smirking and mocking me. Pat me down. Show me to a room with only two chairs and a table. I wait. Finally they bring him to me. He’s about 20 years old.  He’s trembling and his voice is barely a whisper. His face is a topographical map of purple lumps and bruises.  Jailhouse justice. His crime? Twisting the arm of his 10 month old baby until she suffers a spiral fracture.  The court wants me to assess if he can be helped.

And when the stars are shining brightly in the velvet sky

I’ll make a wish, send it to heaven and then make you want to cry

The tears of joy for all the pleasure and the certainty

That we’re surrounded by the comfort and protection of

The highest powers in lonely hours, the tears devour you

The phone rings at one in the morning.  Good news never arrives at that hour.  This is no exception.  The operator from my answering service tells me Joey is on the line.  He insists on speaking to me.  He’s across the street from a laundry mat. His ex-wife is inside doing laundry.  He is ready to march across the street.  With the gun he is holding.  To avenge the pain she caused to him by shooting her.  And then himself.  I take the call.  And the night moves forward and the stars take their ride.

**Sunset sailing on April skies, blush of fireclouds in your eyes

I can’t say what I might believe, but if God made you, He’s in love with me.

The other day I received a letter.  Full of hatred.  Toward me personally.  The writer told me I am evil. Accused me of writing these to make people think I’m a better person than I really am.  That I steal material and that I’m an all around bad person. That I’m making up the fact that my memory has holes in it that you could drive a truck through for the years 2010-17, and the 30 years in constant pain, the drugs, the recovery, the clarity, my experiences… and so forth.  I really don’t care about any of that.

What does matter to me is this: if we believe in a divine realm, if we believe in a Beginning, if we are certain that there is a Divine Original Story always unfolding, always creating,  if we foster the sense of helplessly hoping the harlequin heroes of infinity hover nearby, then I, for one, am compelled to acknowledge that this Presence, this Spirit, this Force, this Higher Power, this Being, this Principle, this Prime Person, this God—however you conceive of the basis of all existence—is truly, madly, deeply in love with the human race.  All of it. No matter religion, creed, sacred writings, race, color, origins, political persuasion, sexual orientation, or how much we think we “own” anything, even countries.  If we are members of the human race, we are truly, madly, deeply loved. All of us.  And for the rest of my days, I choose to act accordingly.  I know of no other way to say thank you.

May you find an era of peace that outgrows your imagination.

Words are magic and writers are wizards.

*Truly Madly Deeply, by Daniel Jones and Darren Hayes, Savage Garden

**If God Made You, by John Ondrasuk, Five For Fighting