26 miles down the road was my direction. The Art of Storytelling and the power of Active Listening was born…
JI, in my eyes, aligned true greatness with being a human being. The director of Resurrection Retreat House in Woodstock, Illinois. Best job I've ever had, invaluable. I watched JI combine compassion and leadership with incredible talent. I took mental notes and inscribed them into the corners of my psyche for the 3 years I was there. I have those notes still.
JI met with an accident that left him facing horrific injuries and completely blind. I've been gone 8 years at the time of that accident. The hospital released him for 12 hours to attend the funeral of his mother in law-Rose. I heard of this. It became a priority. I was in the back, the last to arrive. Chapel packed. His son Jimmy wheeled him to the front where Rose rested. Personally, I've been in a state of numb as a result of a series of events, existing. I was terrified of that "numb." When his son Jimmy seen me, he stopped his motion and bent over as if to whisper something in his Dad's ear…JI looked up in a direction I wasn't, trying to see, regardless of the crowd in this church, and yelled out, "Nial, I love you." I burst out in tears, uncontrollable, violent. Couldn't stop. It was a deep reach. The "Numb" was gone. An unforeseeable gift. I just reread my notes.
Leaving "Res. Ctr" and doing a 360 landed me on a Chicago Police Department. Interesting, ironic process. I should have read the writing on the wall. Within the walls of that environment is an underground butchery of unsuspecting souls. The dysfunction affected the soul like water drip torture. I remember trying to make sense of the senseless, the system. I created my own dogma to maintain my footing. 12 rules. Within months I violated my own Gospel. All but one remains, the most important. "Above all else, be able to recognize yourself when it's all over." Proved to be an absolute courageous, lonely battle. I defiantly refused to surrender my dignity in the face of stone-cold malevolence.
A life-altering, incredibly painful crossroads presented itself. The attack forced an internal tug-of-war with my last remaining 'rule'. The lifelong consequences in eithor direction were clear. I defiantly and proudly refused to surrender my dignity. It was in that moment I earned the distinction of being, "The Paperclip Guy."
23 years as a Cop and very few knew if I even had a job. 'Chit chat.' was always the needle to my balloon. When pressed, I gave the response, "I do the Lord's work." If pressed more, I would provide details with; "Every soul has a Guardian, an unrecognized, modest, quiet, Guardian."
A true privilege.
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