As a child of seven I began to wonder about death. I lived in upstate New York near a railroad track and just beyond that was the shores of Lake Champlain. One day I heard about someone getting hit by a train. I learned about another falling through the ice on the lake when they ventured out before the lake top was solidly frozen. Then my great Grandmother died and I wondered about her.
I looked under my bed at home and I saw a lot of dust. I thought “That’s my Great Grandma-- And That’s my future.”
I started to do some thinking about whether there were any better alternatives for me. I started paying attention at Sunday School and church. The main message I got was that I had better be good if I want to go to heaven. Reflecting on this message I did an elementary personal assessment of my moral character in order to determine my potential spiritual destiny. I wasn’t too encouraged. I didn’t get along with one of my older sisters. I smoked cigarettes that I took from my dad’s cupboard. Some of my buddies were starting to steal things from stores and encouraging me to do it too. The pressure was on from my little peer group. I feared that I was messing up my life. I was headed to DUST or worse.
I knew I needed some help for my young life. I asked my mom if I could talk to the chaplain at the military base chapel where my mother was the organist. She set me up with a meeting. I met with Chaplain Lindal, a Lutheran Pastor, at the base Chapel at Plattsburg Air Force Base. I talked with him about the love and forgiveness of God that Jesus taught. I remember learning about how Jesus will take care of me forever, even when I’m dead. I learned about the strength that God provides to help live a better life.
As a result of my discussion with Chaplain Lindal, he baptized me. I was seven years old. At times I have had people ask me if I ever smoked. I tell them I stopped when I was seven.