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When God Was Not There

May 10, 2023

Five and a half years ago, on my way into New York, a Peekskill, New York police officer told me they had found my sibling’s body, in her bed. She had not returned to work, where she never left, and was found lifeless in her home.

Her home had become a hoarder’s refuge, without access to the unusable bath and kitchen, filled with refuse. But when discovered it had carefully detoxed of her endless cigarette butts or rotting garbage amid feet of stacked refuse. Her careful preparation, included an opened letter from me from a decade prior (never answered, as no connection attempt ever was) laid open under a lit lamp over a pile of unopened notes from me was left for me to find. One last connection.

The picture above shows a 14 year old Win Dickinson in 1964. The year before he had quit the small private school my parents had supported for their children as the public schools, the schools my parents attended, were deemed “second rate” by them. My father had become Chairman of the school’s Board of Directors, and that day was handing out diplomas to the graduating 8th grade class. My brother’s class before he pleaded after 7th grade “I just can’t take it.” And, to my my parents, validated the ruling from his grades in grammar school that he was “second rate”. My parents let him quit, but forced him to attend what was to be his graduation. My sister was also in academic crisis, quitting The Master’s School a month before her high school graduation the year before, driving herself to California.

I was quietly in 3rd grade.

My parent’s world had failed them. Their children were not them, two Ivy League suburban survivors of Depression and World War 2. My brother came to have failed careers, college, marital and religious efforts. He told me once that “God showed me that He was my father.” He then, somehow, left the church he had devoted himself to. Somehow he had failed that Father, too.

In a last salvation, Winthrop fully transitioned (with the inheritance from the parents he failed) to become Pandora. And I never saw him again over the next 16 years. The carefully chosen home after transition (purchased from that inheritance) became untenable as a life spent buying all meals, none made, all clean clothes (dirty apparently tossed) and drinking a great deal consumed all his modest salary, leaving nothing for property taxes, as the rental income from his tenant disappeared too. The town was taking possession of the house the day the police found her body.

I know because I was the one left holding her life in my hands after death.

But God did not fail his children. His children, all of us, create the lives we live in. Those creations are ours, not His. And we are humans, whose central characteristic is that we know our failures and want to know God.

73 years ago, today, a baby was birthed. It’s perfection was just true. And our imperfections surrounded him, and us everyday. God does not fail us. We fail to be God. Somehow we think we, our children, the world, should be as Perfect as if we were the God who made us.

We are not.

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