A Gang of Seven

 Pointing the Way


 Two Movements

 Three Sacraments

 Facets of Vital Engagement

 Vital Engagement:
            Life Blood of Trust

 Steps Towards Trust

 Missed Steps

 Unseen Options  

 Justice in Relationships


Ernest G. Szoke, JD

Biography                   Touchstones               Defining Moments

Defining Moments

I was undergoing a pretty difficult time with a job change I saw coming...I was alone...Cleta was visiting her folks in Tennessee...and I was driving somewhere alone in the car either coming home from the office or going to the office...it was evening...and I came on a rabbit that had been hit by a car...and the dramatic moment that stays with me even now is a vision of that rabbit with its hind end crushed but up on its front looking at me, pleading with me...and I struggled with that alone for years, not able to eliminate it, not able to make sense of it, feeling guilt that I didn't stop and go back...at the moment going through thoughts on what do I do...I didn't have the courage or the ability to go and kill the rabbit...afterwards this is where I say real or not...was that an illusion...was it real...was there a rabbit there, wasn't a rabbit there......it had an impact...I still need to fit it into my understanding of the nature of God because that's what at the time I went into...that there could be no God that would allow this kind of unwanted, unjustified, unmerited, negative circumstance...and relating that to myself...why am I subjected to this...why am I being tortured by having to have this vision...it's unfair...I didn't do anything to bring it on...I didn't hit the rabbit...since then I never pass an animal, a carcass on the street without feeling some short prayer of asking God's forgiveness for whoever destroyed that animal...that's a kind of sustained, ongoing impact...

On my first cruise as a midshipman...I had been up on the brig and was to rotate with somebody on the fantail...this was a destroyer...the gangway is outside of the brig almost on the edge of the ship...it was a rainy night and dark and it was late...I was going to relieve the guy and he would come back up and take mine...I went sort of whistling cheerfully down this gangway and I slipped and was thrown out and I landed up sort of in a lifeboat that hangs over the side...I got up and realized that no one but me knew of that experience and again I can say to myself is it something I made up...did it really happen...there's no one who knew, now evidence, no photograph...all I can do is tell you that in my mind this real experience had me aware of the fragility of life...I would have been off that ship, in the water...no one would have known it...some time later, the guy at the fantail would've called and said "where is he" and someone would've said "well he left here ten or fifteen minutes ago...he should be back there...and the ship would probably stop and go back...but it would be perhaps hours before they got back...those experiences live with you...