All of my life, I have longed to be free.
I can get out of jail when I find the real me.
The days rolled slowly by, one by one. At first, Florence came everyday with a piece of fruit cake, but at last, even it was gone. Maude Ann came a few times, but she was so angry at Guiseppe, he finally asked her to stay away. No one knew where Tyrannious was. Guiseppe asked everyone who came to visit, and everyday, asked the deputy who brought his meager meals, if Ty had turned up.
"No, way, Guv'nor," the deputy always said sadly. "Do not worry about him. His kind always finds some poor sucker to feed and shelter him and buy him drinks. He will turn up when you have money to spend again."
Michael had said to look within for the answer to the question that he had asked, "Who needs to be rescued?" Guiseppe was not sure how to go about doing that. He had prayed so much his knees were raw. He tried to be cheerful, but as the days went by, he got angrier and angrier. "It is all Guilda's fault," he fumed one day. "If she had not run off with the money and that no good piece of blue eyed riffraff, I would not be here. I was good to her, why did she leave?"
The next day, his thoughts turned to Maude Ann. "That woman was the ruination of my finances," he raged. "She bullied me and advised me and told me what to do, and talked to me like I was three. She never accepted any of the blame for it either after she lost it all. She can sure lay the finger of guilt on everyone else but herself; she's the one who really deserves it. Oh, I just hate her!" He got so angry and worked up about Maude Ann that he ran smack into the wall of his cell and banged his head.
"Ouch! That really hurt. Guiseppe, you are stupid! S-T-U-P-I-D! Wait a minute. That is what Maude Ann said to me. Ohhhh, that woman. I am so mad at her!"
His rage built and expanded until he had worked himself into a proper fit. "Those ungrateful relatives!" he raged. "My sister took advantage of my goodness, took my money, ate my food, slept in my bed, and when the money was all gone, she ran out and did not even offer to help me. Where is she now? Off sponging off someone else, no doubt. Oh, I hate her and especially, I hate those little brats! Speaking of brats!" he ranted, "Those spoiled twins, those rotten poetry writers, what's their names? Uh, Puny and Tuny, no Pinky and Twinky, or is it, Punky and Tunky? Whatever. How dare they demand money from me? I never even met them. Such awful poetry, too. They should be locked up, not me."
He paused for breath, and then a most terrible thought hit him. He thought about his beloved son, Tyrannious. "How could he run away when I am in jail? I have paid his bills, bailed him out of jail, fed him, put up with his drinking, his womanizing, and even his dog's fleas. Does he have no love for me at all? Is he just like everyone else, after what I have done for Him all his life? Why does he not see that I need his support. Why? Why can he not be there for me as I have been for him? Why can he not see that I am only a human being who makes mistakes and who needs love too? Oh God, I have failed at everything. I am as bad a father as my own father was to me. I tried to be different than he was, but for all my efforts, I am just the same. I am a total failure! I take care of everyone else, but when the going gets tough, they run away and leave me to tough it out by myself. I help others, but who helps me? Who?"
He paused to get his breath before declaring, "Just take me now, God. End my misery. Let me die. I do not know for sure what will happen after that, but I am surely the most worthless piece of poop on the planet, and who would miss me after all? Who would mourn my passing? Who would even know I am gone?" At that, Guiseppe broke down and sobbed his heart out. "God, I am at the end of my rope. I do not care what happens to me. Just let me die!"
As he was sobbing until his eyes were red and his voice hoarse, the light appeared once more in the cell, and Michael appeared within it. He stepped out of the light and walked over to Guiseppe's pitiful bare mattress. Putting his hands on his shoulders, he said gently, "Guiseppe, I know you are sorry for all these things that have happened, but I must ask you again, who really needs to be rescued?"
Guiseppe looked up at the angel with red and swollen eyes, and answered softly, "I do. I have spent these many days in blaming everyone else for my troubles. I have been a fool. I am the one who has all these needs, and I have realized, far too late, that money will not solve my problems. Maybe nothing will," he concluded sadly.
"Guiseppe, flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you, but the Spirit of God within you," the angel affirmed. "Have you ever heard of the word addict?"
Guiseppe nodded slowly, "Yes, my father drank himself to death, and now, I guess my son is also addicted to alcohol and women, and the Village Barber, they say, is addicted to gambling. Is that what you mean?"
"Something like that. You have the right idea, anyway. Did you know that rescuing people could be an addiction?" asked the old angel.
"No, but I suppose I should have. I guess you are saying that I have been addicted to rescuing, is that what you want me to see?"
"Good, Guiseppe. You learn very quickly," encouraged Michael.
"Quickly," protested Guiseppe, "I have been here for a very long time."
"That may be," allowed Michael, "but some people go to their graves and never know what you have learned here. You are very blessed, and very close to being free."
"Do you mean I am going to get out of jail?" asked Guiseppe excitedly?
"Remember I told you there were many kinds of jails?" reminded the angel.
"You mean that being addicted to something is like being in jail because you cannot stop what you are doing, and you cannot get free of that behavior?" asked Guiseppe.
"Exactly that. Now, Guiseppe, the bars which confine you are mostly in your mind. Who will help you remove the shackles which bind you? I suggest you think about this and I will return in a few days." At that, the light and the old angel faded away, and Guiseppe was left alone once more with his thoughts.
This next morning, Florence paid him her usual visit. "I am sorry to have to tell you that the fruit cake is gone. I know how much you enjoyed it, but I brought you a scone, which I made myself. It looks sort of lop sided, but it tastes all right, I think," she smiled as she handed it over. "By the way, I had a letter from Guilda," she paused.
"Florence, what did she say? Tell me everything," Guiseppe pleaded.
"Well, she said that old blue eyes was not the man she thought he was. She said he was more interested in drinking and gambling than in love making." Seeing the poor man wince, she said kindly, "Oh sorry, Guiseppe, but, she said she really wished she had not gone away with him."
"Florence, do you really think she might come back?" Guiseppe asked hopefully.
"I do not know the answer to that. She feels really guilty and frustrated and angry and a lot of confusing other feelings. I guess she does not really know herself what she wants."
"Oh, I would forgive her if she would come back," enthused Guiseppe, and then remembering Michael's words, said, "it certainly was not all her fault. I really think I made some terrible mistakes, like not spending any time with her, and never really asking her if it was all right to have all those house guests. I wish I could tell her that. Of course, she might not want a jail bird for a husband."
"Well," Florence assured him, "if I get the chance, I shall certainly tell her all you have said. I also thought you should know that I heard the most astonishing news yesterday. A passing peddler told me he saw a man who looked just like Tyrannious in the next Kingdom, but it probably was not Ty, because this man was working as a stable hand. He was doing physical labor, and had been for some months, and we all know too well that Ty would never do that kind of work, and he certainly has never held a job for that long in his life. But, it was interesting, just the same."
"Indeed, it is," murmured Guiseppe, wondering in his heart if a miracle bigger than the million dollars had happened. "I surely wish Michael would pay me another visit."
That night, he slept soundly and dreamed that Guilda came back loving and warm, and asked him to take her back. He dreamed that Ty had saved enough money at the job he had held for all these months, to pay his fine, and so could finally come back to live in 'The Kingdom By The Sea.' He dreamed that Maude Ann decided that he was able to manage his own life without her, and that she moved back to her own home in 'The Dinky Kingdom' beyond the great woods. And, of course, he dreamed that he was set free from his prison so he could go back to selling used chariots, and repairing glockenspiels. He was enjoying this dream immensely, and so when the white light shown in the cell, he awoke smiling to find Michael sitting on the mattress beside him, a scroll in his hands.
"Hello, Michael, I am glad you came. I believe I am making great progress. You asked me who could remove my shackles and I see now that only God can do that. And, I think you mean that the way out of the 'other jail' I am in is to accept the blame for my troubles, and ask God to forgive me so I can forgive myself. And you know," he added, almost as an after thought, "If I can forgive myself with all my faults, perhaps I could learn to forgive Guilda, and Maude Ann, Hilga and Tyrannious, and maybe even Jonas."
"Very, very good, Guiseppe. You are, indeed, a fast learner, and you are absolutely right. Only God can deliver you from the jail your addictions have locked you up in. I have brought you something for you to use in helping you stay out of "the jail" your addiction has created. Just remember. Since God is within you, you do not need these steps to get to Him, for He is always there, but they will help you to understand yourself. You have been a 'human doing;" with God's help you will become what you were created to be, a human being." With these words, he opened the scroll and handed it to Guiseppe. It was made of parchment, and the words were emblazoned in gold. Guiseppe read it silently.
"So, what do you think, Guiseppe. Is this something that might help you?" asked Michael after Guiseppe looked up from the scroll.
"Well, it is like this, Michael," answered Guiseppe thoughtfully, "I tried it my way and in the process have lost everything I ever thought was valuable. I have nothing to lose by following God's way of dealing with people. Of course, since I am locked up here in jail, the only one I have to deal with is myself."
Seeing the angel smile, he said, "Oh, well, I guess I am the one who needs to change the most, anyway. I suppose you are not going to bring me more gold to pay my fine?" he asked wistfully. When the angel did not reply, Guiseppe said, "It just may be that finding out who I really am may turn out to be more valuable than gold. Is that why you are smiling?"
"You really do learn very quickly, my son," said the old angel, kindly. "Remember that the bars which you see on the outside are merely a reflection of the ones you have within yourself. The ones we create within our minds will last a lifetime unless we determine to ask God to remove them. Being honest with ourselves, taking a fearless and searching moral inventory may seem very painful at first, but it is the quickest way out of the soul's abyss, you will find. You do not need me any more. My service to you is finished."
"You have just begun the most exciting journey a man or woman can make," the old angel continued, "the journey to find God within, and you have guessed correctly, that what you will find will prove to be more precious to you than gold or silver, for it is God's gift to you: the gift of Himself. The road to self awareness may seem twisted and turning, the path dark and full of dangerous pitfalls at times, but at the end, you will find the treasure hidden in an earthen vessel: your real self, which has been redeemed by God. Bless you and God speed on your fabulous journey back into the arms of your heavenly Father. He is always with you."
At that, the light faded, and the angel disappeared once more. Guiseppe felt great peace of mind and heart as he began to read and meditate upon the scroll which the angel had left.
After he read each step, he prayed his response.
Step One: "I admit that I am powerless to control my rescuing addiction and that my life has become unmanageable."
"This is certainly true of me," said Guiseppe prayerfully. "I ran here and there rescuing people and lost myself in the process. Maybe that's what this jail is for. My "doing" days are over. All that is possible is being."
Step Two: "I have come to believe that only a Higher Power can restore me to sanity."
"Well, that is most clear," Guiseppe said out loud. "Only God can clean up the mess I have made of my life."
Step Three: "I will make a decision to turn my life and my will over to a Higher Power, as I understand him."
Guiseppe was so gripped by what he read that he knelt on the dirty jail floor and prayed, "God, I have made a right proper mess of my life and my relationships. Please forgive me and deliver me from the chaos. Help me to find what You want for my life."
Step Four: "I will make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself."
"I think I have already done that. I am a failure from start to finish, failure as father, failure as husband, failure as friend, failure as provider, but if it is not too late, Lord, I want to do it Your way from now on. Show me the way and I will follow You."
Step Five: "I will admit to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs."
"One of my biggest mistakes was in believing that people need gold to help them lead better lives. What they need, Lord, is YOU! If you will bring Guilda and Ty back to me once more, I will admit my wrongs to them, and even to Maude Ann. Ouch. That was tough to say, but I will do it God; I will if you will help me to do it and really mean it. And, by the way, if it's OK, I'll tell them what I learned in here. Maybe that will help them, but you don't need me to tell them. I will if you want me to though."
Step Six: "I am entirely ready to have God remove all these character defects."
"Lord, I must be the biggest failure you have ever attempted to clean up, but if you will do it, I will praise You forever and spend my life telling people how wonderful you really are."
Step Seven: "I will humbly ask Him to remove all my shortcomings."
"Amen to that, God. Please forgive me and take away the pride and arrogance in me that made me think I knew how others should live their lives, or that all they might need from me was money. That was a complete bust and I know it."
Step Eight: "I will make a list of all persons I have harmed, and I am willing to make amends."
"My list is pretty long, and it will take a long time to do it, but if You will help me, I will do my best to make amends for my foolish actions."
Step Nine: "I will make direct amends to such people unless it would harm them for me to do so."
"Well, I have already harmed them plenty, and I do not know where to begin, after I get out of jail that is, but I will do what You show me to do and say what You want me to say."
Step Ten: "I will continue to take personal inventory and when I am wrong, I will admit it right away."
"This jail makes it easier to take personal inventory because there is nothing else to do, but even when I get out (I will get out someday, right Lord?); I will admit when I make a mistake."
Step Eleven: "I will learn through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out."
"I understand that You had to put me in jail to get my attention, God, and please help me to never let You out of my sight again. I was so busy asking for money that I forgot to ask for YOU!"
Step Twelve: "Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of working these steps, I will take the message to others trapped in the quagmire of this rescuing addiction, and I will continue to practice what I have learned in all my dealings with people."
"My life is Yours, Lord, such as it is. Sorry it is not more, but You can do anything and maybe You can make my life gleam like the gold You once sent to me. Do whatever You have to do to get me to be how You want me. Amen, and thank You for being patient with me and loving me just the way I am! Everyone has left me but You and that means, You are my best friend, my real Father and my God. Amen."
Lenny and Jan Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
Forward to The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter One
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter Two
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter Three
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter Four
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter Five
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter Six
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter Seven
The Man Who Asked God For A Million Dollars, Chapter Eight
The Man Who Asked For A Million Dollars, Chapter Nine
The Man Who Asked For A Million Dollars, Chapter Ten
The Man Who Asked For A Million dollars, Chapter Eleven
The Glory Road
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