by Clayton, 27
When I was a kid I thought religion was really stupid. At least what my perception of it was.I hated having to get up early on Sunday, put on my plaid pants and listen to some guy talk about stuff I didn't understand.
I retaliated at the age of 10 by breaking into the local pool hall with my cousin. We stole some cigarretes, a neat pool cue, and a Harley Davidson poster. We thought we were pretty cool until we stepped outside to discover the entire police force of our small town waiting for us.
I ended up getting probation and youth counselling. My counsellor was a real prick who made me hate the system even more. And when I saw that necklace with the Virgin Mary on it, I wanted to puke. I went to my required
10 sessions, hating my family, the police and the Catholic Church more then ever.
A year later, when I was 11, I started smoking pot and drinking Safeway's store brand beer that I stole from my dad. They made me less angry, but they also made me care less about what happened. Pretty soon, my parents couldn't
keep me in church and I barely went to school. I spent most of my time stoned walking up and down mainstreet listening to the Police on my walkman. I even dyed my hair to look like Sting.
My adolescence was filled with smoking pot and run-ins with the juvenile justice system. I never got in serious trouble, but the cousin who first gotten me into a life of crime did a year at San Quentin threatening to
blow up the Catholic Church national sanctuary.
My criminal streak gradually died down. Pretty soon, I'm 25 years old, living in the Couve, and training to be a Greyhound ticket agent. One day, at Vancouver Lake, drinking a PBR and smoking some really good shit my other
cousing had scored in Boise, it just sort of dawned on me what "Our Lady of the Lake" really meant.
My gaze was intently focused on an Oly can floating on the waters. I can't describe the what changed inside of me, but all of a sudden I felt something...something that couldn't be just from the Boise Bud or the PBR. Still in a trance, I headed to my Dodge Dart and begin driving. I didn't
know where I was going, but I felt guided. I turned to Z100, Portlands hottest music, and recognized the voice of my childhood hero, Sting. But instead oh his tortured punk lyrics like "Suitcase Full of Anti-Transcedentalism" came a new side to him "Why Should I Lose My Faith in
St. Francis"---or something like that.
I drove until my Dart broke down, which happened to be right in front of Ft. Couv Regional Library. Still in a daze over my mystical experience at the Lake, I ventured inward to the place I thought I would never set foot
inside---well, not since I stole Fantastic Four comic books in the 5th grade.
I was thrilled to see, that the library offered loans on CDs and immediatly went searching for all of Stings solo work...we had a lot of catching up to
do. After I found a CD (only one), I think it was called "The Sanctification of the Gardeneurs of Middlebury" I went to check out comic books. I found some
and and settled on the nice comfy orange pleather couch---ah its nice to know the Couve never changes.
All of a sudden something caught my eye. Lying on the end table by a fake tropical plant was an archaic looking leather bound book. It could have been anything, maybe a bible, maybe a West Coast Avengers anthology, but I
couldn't resist picking it up. "Rediscovering Druidism" were the words printed on the first page. I became
engrossed in its rich poignant message. I learned of the connection between Nature and the Spirit, the primal forces that guide the ebb and flow of life. Why the Lake is Still. Why I chose to smoke herb at the Lake in the splendor of Nature instead of on my cousin Willy's broken down C-Tran like everyone else. Why my Dart had stopped in front of this building. And especially, why the police had an album named Synchronicity---I'll admit though I still don't get what the Loch Ness Monster has to do with anything.
Then I remembered parts of my religious upbringing that I'd denied had been positive experiences for me. The comfort I felt when Father Jack's warm eyes glistened in the Cathedral. The feeling of familiarity when I ate that
saltine and grape juice. All of these were signs from the Great Horned God speaking to my soul behind the clever mask of a religion I thought I despised.
I couldn't check out the book because I was still on file for 137 stolen comic books. I got my Dart started just in time to make it to Powell's books. I traded a vintage 1983 copy of the Battle Ground reflector---I don't know why it was still in my car but go figure---for a brand new copy
of rediscovering Druidism.
The rest is history. I'm now director of Druidic studies of Greater Clark County. We go to Amboy and attempt to share our insights there. You'd be surprised how many recovering Catholic kids in rural areas latch onto this