A Gang of Seven

 Pointing the Way

 Premises

 Two Movements

 Three Sacraments

 Facets of Vital Engagement

 Vital Engagement:
            Life Blood of Trust

 Steps Towards Trust

 Missed Steps

 Unseen Options  

 Justice in Relationships

 

Austin J. Joyce, DMin, MFT
   Chaplain

Biography               Touchstones             Defining Moments              Publications

Defining Moments

At 61 I have had many moments when my life experience took a turn I could not possibly foresee. My reflection contains both caution and hope. In this memory are the seeds of “wonder” about a life not planned but hopefully lived with meaning, love, humor and courage.

The moment unfolded on the beach of a shore town. I was despairing and had decided to end my life. No one who knew me was aware that I carried such ominous thoughts and pervasive despair. My plan was simple: swim into the ocean as far as I could and at some point drown. As I sat on the beach at 4 AM on a moonless night, the water gently caressed the shoreline. A dog was barking at some undisclosed sight and my mind and heart were filled with resignation to the inevitable. The barking dog irritated my depressive mood: “… get out of here… let me die without your noise.” Distracted, dawn was unfolding before me. I watched the sun appear to emerge out of the ocean’s depth. For a brief moment my eye beheld its fullness and then I heard in my thoughts, “You are more important than the sun.” Even at 25 I recognized my thoughts might be unreliable and psychotic. Nonetheless I was stunned into wonder. What did those words mean to one who was about to end his life. As the brightness of the sun’s rays blanketed the morning the terrors of my night dimmed. Now what? This moment prefaced a mystical experience I was drawn into five months later in a small mountain village in Switzerland.