Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 03:48:37 -0000
Subject: [x-cobu] youth and spirit

I have been reading with keen interest the posts concerning our
history in respect to the difference between those who left earlier,
and those who left later. Since I left 20 times between 1981 and
1993, I feel authoritative on the issue. (insert chuckle here) It
occurred to me that there was so much more than just the time we left
or the condition of the church at the time we left. I got saved in
April  1976 in Johnson City, New York, on the livingroom floor with
Peter and Lois George, and Jeff Benninger, who was the first to ever
witness to me. The first time I ever saw Stewart was when I sneaked
out of my home at 15 years old to go to the NE regional meeting.
There he was, lying on his back surrounded by pouches and crates,
rubbing his weary forehead, as a circle of brothers leaned over him
attentively. In later years, I would become familiar with that "holy
exhaustion" routine, as if he carried the weight of the church's
folly directly on his shoulders. How forbearing of us he seemed to
me! Look how tired the man is, look at how patient he is with this
rabble of incompetent misfits! That was my first view. And it was
from a distance. I had little association with him then. I thought
a "center leader" was a pretty big deal- and in truth, I think it
was. My point is that there were clearly leaders when I was younger.
In my formative "lamb" years, the people that presented Jesus to me
were Tony LeDonne, Dave Poli, later Chris Blaise and Dave Rizetto. Not
Stewart.These were my examples, these were the ones that were
approachable, that gave me "nuggies", that came to visit me at my
high school, even though they hadn't slept. When I finally broke away
in 1993, there was only Stewart, and that had been the case since the
gas chamber, I mean the Manhattan Training Center.
   When I moved in at 18, I lived in Park Rd. fellowship. There was
no bed for me, so I slept with my feet in a closet and my head under
someone's cot. And I was happy. I loved being in the fellowship at
that time. I felt so spiritually connected to you- my brothers and
sisters. Of course, in 1993 sleeping on the floor of the Manhattan
commercial lofts with 40 of us and 1 bathroom - well part of the
difference was I was 34 years old by then. there were a number of
things that affected my perspective of the demise of my COBU experience.
One big one was Stewart wiping out the leadership at the MTC. But
there are other things:
   When I was young, I didn't care where I had to live for the
priveledge of being with all of you.
   When I grew older, it became not OK to live under those
   When I was immature, Stewart seemed like a prophet, and his words
seemed so wise. When I grew up, those words seemed hollow, or
manipulative, a bag of tricks.
   When I was younger, I was near the older brothers who tried to
guided me. When I was older, I was near to Stewart, who tried to
control me.
   When I was young I was voted "next to go to Haiti", when I was
older, I was voted to "next to go to Hell"
   So I share with those who have wonderful memories, and with those
who had bitter and hopeless ends. To this day, if I feel down, there
is a picture I conjure up: My first Big Meeting on July 4th 1978,
when I first heard the brothers and sister from Washington sing, and
my spirit was so lifted by their song, and devotion, and energy, and
unity, that I just had to be a part of it. I just had to. I still
smile when I think of Gretchen, and Laronia, and Stephanie Sydney,
and Grace and Judy Odums, and Curtis Warren and Leroy Speaks, and
Debbie, and Sandra Bratton, and all the others - just sitting around
singing the resurrection song, experimenting with harmonies. Not even
Stewart can steal the joy of that reflection from me.