September 30, 2015: Voices in my Head

~by Louis Templeman

The holy Breath and a locomotive, and a truth about finding peace in a life thwarted with Parkinson’s.

If my journaling unfolds my confusions and my shaken faith in an esoteric manner I should not be judged as sophomoric. I’ve been beaten down and I am trying to reframe my religious faith in order to wrestle with the pain and find peace and understanding. To stand naked in a squall, with arms spread wide to embrace the danger in the squall is to hold on to nothing, even while my skin is electrified by more than I can carry. I’m courting paradox but so much of life is paradoxical. I cannot get close to a description of what I see without becoming esoteric.

I reach to get a grip on God, on truth, on life. I go to the dead whose voices still speak of embracing what cannot be kept. I go to where the voices of the dead speak. In biographies, in the Bible. In silence. I have stood upon the ground of their conversation.

When I am quiet I can become aware of the panic that rumbles underneath where whispers frequent those places where we have never been, yet when we venture into the Spirit – the holy Breath who scares me as he beckons me – we find, as it were, our names carved in the bark of the tree of life. It’s like finding my fingerprints in a room where I’ve never been. I have drifted on journeys into silence driven by the suffering, the sadness that wearies and weakens.

I stretch the brittle ends of my faith only to despair that I have become the lowest of the dead. I wonder, revealing the perverse shallows of my thoughts, why it is so easy for God to dwell with the suffering and yet remain so silent.

I feel that I belong more to those questions and doubts than I do to myself. At times like this I can find religion to be entirely laughable. Nevertheless, I find myself thoroughly religious. Oscar Wilde wrote, “I have learned this: It is not what one does that is wrong, but what one becomes as a consequence of it.” This idea seems to fit. Certainly this quotation is a bit esoteric. How else to provoke a sense or feeling in others those moments that defy precise descriptions?

I remember as a child I would stand dangerously near a railroad track as a locomotive would come speeding past. The ear deafening blast of the whistle, the rumble of the ground under my shoes, the dust and wind that whirled about my limbs, my face and even inside my clothing gave me a greater sense of motion and excitement than sitting in the Greyhound bus that my father drove.

I was moved yet my feet never left the spot where the excitement anchored them. I had to use raw courage not to bolt and run as the fear and danger electrified me. This was indeed a moving experience yet I did not move. After the train passed leaving me with the dwindling whir of the Doppler effect of regressing sound, I continued for some moments in an altered state – silent, still, yet shaken.

Once the quiet came in the retreat of the railroad train I began to feel the bitter cost and consequence of choosing to experience the exhilarating nearness of a speeding train. Dust and grit lay on every inch of my skin. The walk home to clean up was thoroughly uncomfortable. The discomfort lasted much longer than the short minute of the passing locomotive pulling a hundred boxcars at 50 mph, and pressed upon my imagination a moment of magic and danger. Nevertheless, the discomfort was shorted lived, while the fifteen seconds of fear and courage and sensory delight lives on. The precious moments where life is raw and sonorous are worth the price we pay for such experiences.


Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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