The Westmont Fire of 1964 had a profound effect on me. I wrote “Morning by Morning” 30 years after leaving Westmont … but the song we sang at Chapel during that fire was never far from my mind. Life has continued to take many unexpected turns since I wrote this piece in 1996. Some have been wonderful and some very challenging.
When my daughter started on her path to recovery, we talked about writing a book together that we would call Pillar of Fire: A Journey through Teenage Addiction. That book is still just a collection of letters and stories – but the image of the pillar of fire by night and the manna in the morning is what always comes to mind when I think of “Morning By Morning.”
CLICK HERE: Morning by Morning Easter 1996
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Thank you for inviting me to share this journey. I pray the kayak on calm/white water is perfect and the river is long. Don’t we all wish we knew of the tributary for her to take until she can ration her white water experiences in sections she can safely steer through.
Than you, Berma … and I’m glad that we shared “The Journey” with Kim and Perry – or Blanchard Devine last night. I was not very sociable, but that was because at the break after Tony Land’s set I heard from the Ordinary Angel who was with Shannon last night, and was also given a chance to be an Ordinary Angel for someone in her very same shoes. Facebook Messenger kept me connected with Shannon and her angel, Elcor … and the last time I heard from him was at 10:17 from the ER at Sherman Oaks Hospital.
I woke up at First Light – remembering my mother’s words “No news is good news.” I’m counting on that right now … and I’ll talk to you later. Right now I’m enjoying the calm, knowing that Shannon is on a river of her own ….
Now I need to get in touch with Kim because I didn’t get to buy the CD. And I also want to find out if Tony has recorded her song “Ordinary Angels” and the one about the old man in the cemetery!
Shannon is 39 years old and I’ve come to compare her life to a journey in a kayak down a very beautiful, but sometimes very dangerous, river. This morning she is experiencing the peace that comes in the few moments after coming through a stage 4 rapid. I’m sure she’s not breathing the sigh of relief, exhilaration, and joy that comes in those moments on a river … but I must admit that, in a way, I am.
I woke up about a half hour ago thinking about her, as always, and pulling up an image in my mind of where I think she is. It feels very good right now because I know she’s in Centennial Park – adjacent to the Pasadena City Hall and just down the block from All Saints Church. I talked to her on Rudy’s phone last night at 9:10 PM and then I called Rudy back at 10:44 just before I went to sleep. She had wandered off to talk to some of the other residents of the park, but Rudy took the number of her friend Elcor to give to her in the morning – the time of day that she described to me last week as “first light.”
She called me last Tuesday morning when she was in Crescent City, sleeping on the beach. She said that “first light” is when people are waking up, packing up, and leaving their safe “home” to begin another day. It’s always been my favorite time of day – and now I know why. Shannon may or may not get into a detox program today. If she does, it may or may not be the last detox program that she will ever experience in her life. But wherever God leads her today will be exactly where she is supposed to be – just for today. To quote the Big Book, page 417, “…. I can find no serenity until I accept that [situation] as being exactly the way it’s supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”
So it is now 5:40 AM. First Light. I know where Shannon is, and I know who she’s with. She calls him a “Bennie,” even though his name is Rudy. Bennie was the name of the old fisherman in Brookings who gave her a job on his boat in many years ago. Her life for a couple of years there consisted of helping Bennie on the boat, cleaning rooms at the Beachfront Best Western, washing dishes at the Flying Gull, and going to AA meetings. Bennie died a few years ago … but now she thinks of him as being with the first “Bennie” in her life … her Grandpa Benson, called “Bennie” by his friends … who always called her his “Sweetie Pie.”
Shannon is exactly where she should be at First Light this morning … and once again I woke up thinking about the line …. “….. morning by morning new mercies I see….”