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The Joshua Tree – Part III – NEW Beginnings

Less than 24 hours after leaving San Diego, bound for the desert to clear my head and reconnect with the inner spirit guiding me there, I awoke at 5:30 a.m. It was February 26th, 2012, exactly one year to the day when I’d done the same thing. (A recap of that story may be read by clicking > HERE.) The room I’d rented for the night at the Best Western in Yucca Valley, CA. was less than a half-hour drive back to Joshua Tree National Park. I didn’t have much time. The sun would be rising soon, so I loaded up on coffee, water, and a few things to eat. Batteries were fully charged on both my cell phone and my digital camera.

It was cold. Even here, in the desert this time of year, nights can get chilly. This morning, as I entered the park, hardly a soul was around. Just me, the silence of millions of Joshua Trees, their limbs straining skyward, and God. I drove up to Key’s View once again. The wind was howling. And unlike the previous evening when I’d arrived for sunset and the parking lot was full, I was totally alone. Completely and utterly alone. I was happy with that. No noise. No confusion. The thought occurred, perhaps in that silence I would get answers to my questions; “Why am I here? Why did you bring me here?”

Travelling back down from the summit, driving along slowly, stopping frequently for pictures, I kept asking, and then…..I began to “see.” It was the trees. The limbs symbolized human hands, millions and millions of hands reaching out, crying out for help. The Mourning Dove symbolized one of the seagulls in the signature photo of this website and of my Facebook page. Gulls waiting patiently for me every day as I walked by. The wind I’d encountered the day before driving by wind farms and what was blowing at the top of Key’s View this morning represented movement. Movement of mind, body, and spirit. “Keep going, you’re not finished yet.” But this morning, for some strange reason, “movement” meant more than that. Was that my mission? Is my life now about more than simply changing myself but helping others find new ways of living and thinking like I’ve discovered over the past nearly 4 years?

I stopped at sort of a crude rest area, pulled onto a gravel road and parked.
There was a small fence nearby, anchored with wooden posts that extended about three feet high. A perfect place where I could set my digital camera and recorder. But there was nowhere to sit! Ah, my toolbox! I always carry a toolbox in my vehicle for emergencies, even in the city. That’s the Midwestern flavor still part of my being. Always prepared for anything. Survival.

But as I sat down, perched in front of the camera, facing the bright sunshine of a new day, and clicked “record”, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. As the words came out, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility. But it was more than that. Today, for the first time, I realized how awesome I responsibility I now have. To honor Him for giving my life back, I must pay that kindness forward by helping others. But how? And how was I to support myself in such an endeavor? What means would be provided to afford rent, food, and shelter? The answers would become clearer later. For now, I kept talking. Another one of those spontaneous, one-take-and-done self-made videos. When it was over I wept. The tears flowed freely. Tears of joy, a profound sense of peace overwhelmed me. But there was still one unanswered question as I drove away, headed to the park’s exit.

Stopping at the ranger station to show my ticket one final time, I saw a concrete monument with the name of the park inscribed on it. I thought to myself, “perhaps I can get a final picture or two.” Turning off the ignition, I got out.

And then I heard Him. Off somewhere nearby in the cactus came that familiar coo. The Mourning Dove was there to say goodbye and to thank me for coming. The hair stood up on my arms. I smiled as my heart filled with joy and gratitude. Another one of those unforgettable moments in life.

Over the past couple of years, the words are coming more frequent and louder from people all over, emails arriving in the middle of the night, private messages via Facebook, phone calls, personal encounters; “Are you a man of God? You sound like a preacher. Are you born again?”

We’re all connected. I believe that with every fiber of my soul. Am I preacher? No. Not in a traditional sense. In fact, to those more inclined to such matters, I wouldn’t be considered “religious” at all. But I AM spiritual. Am I man of God? I am a man of Heart. I speak clearly, sometimes with a soft edge, sometimes not, but always instinctively, intuitively, and from the heart. It’s as simple as that. So what now?

That’s up to you. The reason for this website is not to serve me. It’s to serve YOU as your personal mentor, advisor, and confidant. It’s your choice. But that’s why I’m here on this rock called Earth. To make someone else’s life better. To make yours better. Anything else is a waste of time.

I’m just like the dove, your early morning wake-up call, gently calling you to do one thing; “Keep going. You’re not finished yet.”

“Gusto”

P.S. For those who’ve read this story and haven’t read Parts I and II, Click HERE for Part I, and Click HERE for Part II.

Finally, for more information on how I can serve YOU better, please Click HERE. Thank you!

And always remember why ALL of us are HERE. “A Baby Changes Everything.”

6 Comments
  1. One of my all time favorite songs and Faith Hill is another favorite….she’s very special. A Mississippi Girl. Thank You for this.

  2. Gus,

    That was truly beautiful! And as I was reading the end of this, way out in the distance I hear…A MOURNING DOVE!

    Keep moving my friend – your work is unfinished here.

    • It was truly a moment I’ll never forget, and typical of so many other moments in life over the past few years, times when something happened spontaneously when I least expected it. But it all ties together. Thank you Connie, and you’re right, there’s much more work left. I’ll need all the strength He will give me for this job. It’s a big one!

      So cool that you heard a MOURNING DOVE too! 🙂

  3. Gus I loved this, esp your talk, because I too get moved to that level in such a place. I’m happy for you that you can do this – and the Mourning Dove would love to hear that! Would love to feel the sizzle of this experience! WOW Thank you for sharing.

  4. Gus I keep coming back to the Joshua Tree,, you see I lost my grandson Joshua in a vehicle accident June 5th 2010.. your story is special,,all your stories give me chills,,they give me inspiration,, faith and the need to look around and see all the goodness in life..I see my Joshua in everything I do. My Son has found Peace in his sobriety now and for this I am so thankful.. I believe my grandson has helped his Dad from above .. He is our Morning Dove. Thank you Gus for all the words and just mostly for being you ..God has indeed sent us all a great friend. Thank you for being mine.

    • Wow! That is an amazing testimony Helen. Thank you so much for sharing it. It’s ironic about “that date”, meaning JUNE 5th. In my case, June 5th, 2008 was when life started anew for me, a mere 6 months shy of age 50, and the last time these lips tasted alcohol. God Bless you my friend.

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