Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Faith Story: The Story of the Rain

A Faith Story

August 24, 2010 at 5:32 pm

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/4776534  Click on this to hear "Make Me Free" a song I wrote in my youth when this and other things were happening to a young teen.

Occasionally, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the faith stories we have had.  First up, something that happened to me during the time when I was meeting some of those who would form Living Waters: "The Miracle of the Rain"

The teenage years are the classic time for conversion experiences.  There are too many examples to list like St. Francis, the Buddha, and so on.   When I changed, I experienced several things that I can only describe as 'miracles'.  My theory is that I was so screwed up and needy, that I needed these special signs to help me in a special way.  This  incident calls to mind the classic saying of St. Augustine, 'Believe so that you may understand'.

After my conversion experience, I changed a great deal.  Although I never talked about it, a lot of my peer group noticed that I was "into God".  Now, most of these guys were from poor families like me, but they were well into drugs and crime:  this WAS the Seventies!  Heroin, LSD, pot, booze were all part of their scene.  I somehow had managed to avoid all that.

That summer, we were all enrolled in a program in the city of Augusta, Maine [that's the capital, by the way; it has street lights and paved roads!]  This program was basically meant to keep delinquents busy; it was called the Community Action Program or CAP!  Most of the summer was spent doing busywork like building trails in the woods.

One week, we were working at an all-girls private school called Oak Grove-Coburn School.  Let me tell you, that place was filthy!  Well, one day in particular, our supervisor had to take off for a while.  We were supposed to be weeding a garden.  There was one other friend of mine, a Pentecostal kid, who probably would have worked with me, but he was sick that day.  So, it ended up that I was the only one working; I had a conscience now.  Meanwhile, all the other guys were sitting under a tree, smoking pot and laughing at me.  They snickered and giggled, pointing at me with their hands over their mouths.

One of them finally shouted out to me, "Hey!  If there's a God, make it rain!" and they all dissolved into uncontrollable laughter.

Now, I definitely should NOT have done this, but I reacted and blurted out, "OK! I'll pray!  He'll make it rain!"

Immediately, right as the words were coming out of my mouth, I knew I had made a horrible mistake.  (Please, understand, it was NOT the right thing to do.  We don't tell God what to do; He leads us.)  So, I prayed silently within myself, "Lord, you don't have to bail me out of this if you don't want to.  I believe in you no matter what.  I don't need any signs.  But, if it is your will, please show these boys you are real and make it rain.  It's OK with me if you don't." That is the gist of how I prayed.

You have to realize, this WAS a sunny day.  So, it would be a real miracle if anything happened.  Suddenly - I swear on the Bible this is true - dark clouds started to approach us seemingly from all the horizons.  The guys under the tree began to get very nervous.  One of them looked at his watch and said to me, "We'll give you five minutes".  In two minutes, it was pouring and we had to run under one of those concrete overhangs because the school was locked.  One of the guys commented, "THAT was FREAKY, man!" (This WAS the Seventies!)

Please don't tell anyone 'Mr. Lajoie made it rain'.  I can't do it.  I can barely walk and chew gum.  GOD obviously did this because he always hears the cry of the poor, and I think I was pretty poor at the time in many ways.  Miracles are only signs pointing to the real miracle which is that we can know God and have his grace inside us, that we poor sinners can learn to love like Him.  I hope this story gives you confidence to trust Him.

Years later, Deacon Bob Allanach, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate religious, asked me to go up to Maine to provide music for an Ordination.  I said, "Sure!"  He said, "The problem is I have to stop in Augusta at the courthouse to meet with some juvenile delinquents I'm working with.  Do you mind?"  "NO!  Not at all!  I'm from Augusta.  I don't mind going there."

Well, when we walked into the Courthouse, guess who these 'juvenile delinquents' were:  MY FRIENDS!!  One of them, named Gove told me he was going to be baptized the next week by Brother Bob.  Most of the others were well on their way to the three ends of substance abuse:  prison, insanity or the grave.  It's funny how we all saw the same thing and it didn't help all of us.  I guess it's all in the response to the invitation God gives to each of us.

A far greater miracle for me was the miracle of music and friendship.  I had just met Chuck Rossignol, the Bourques, the Gagnons etc. and I was learning how to share and pray. This is the real miracle called Grace.

The former Oak Grove Coburn School, now the Maine Criminal Justice Academy