Author: Karsemeyer, John


Like a human robot in a movie that discovers it is not really human (just thinks it is), Luke made a discovery about his own existence.

Luke was born and raised in the local “Primitive Believers In One Accord” commune in Revelation City, California (Humboldt County). He believed 100% of what was considered to be the truth that made its way from the mouth of the leader of the commune to the members in this organization. The most prominent of these truths was that nobody in the current communal congregation was going to experience the taste of physical death.

Being seventeen years old (at the time), the exuberance of his youth, accompanied by the social reinforcement of the commune members, assured Luke of this belief. Adding ammunition to this “fact” was the pleasant feeling that he generally experienced from all of his body part functioning in perfect harmony. It was a done deal.

A done deal, also, because the “signs of the times” pointed to a commune prophecy that told of a cosmic event that would soon occur to interrupt the aging process, transform each commune member into a more spiritual state that would live forever in a new body, and then be whisked away from earth to a new “home.” One added dimension was that there would be a judgment of each person regarding how well he or she did while living here in this earthly home (Luke wasn't worried about that).

What a comforting belief that was for Luke. It was, most assuredly, a good thing. But that was when Luke was seventeen years old, fifty years ago.

During the past fifty years, slowly over time, events had occurred that caused him to wonder about the commune prophecy regarding the not dying thing. The first event that happened is the leader of the commune, Oracle Jones, had an accident that put him in a coma for six months. And then he died.

It turns out that the revered Oracle was a five-string banjo player. He was in a music store reaching for a new banjo to try out that was hung high overhead, grabbed it with one hand, slipped, and the banjo fell downward and hit him on the head. This blow caused a concussion, leading to a coma, and you already know what happened in the long run.

The explanation from the commune congregation for the death was, “All of the world events have not yet occurred to make the prophecy come true. Oracle has just been dealt a bad hand in the card game of life. We'll have to meet up with him, somewhere, after the prophecy is fulfilled.”

After that, five years went by. Nobody else in the commune had died, but Luke decided to leave the commune. Actually Luke didn't decide to leave, his “uncle” decided for him. His “Uncle Sam,” that is. Luke was drafted.

For various reasons Luke never returned to the commune. After the military he set out to see the world. He discovered that he was a lover of highways. A love from which you don't often recover, especially in your youth. No, he didn't go back to the commune, but he often thought about it. Especially the prophecy.

As more years went by, Luke started to worry about the phenomenon of birth, life, and what's next.

What made him even more worried is that a year ago he attended his 50th high school class reunion, and learned that fifty of his former class mates were not in attendance. All fifty of them were “late,” and were never going to arrive. It wouldn't have been so bad, but five of those fifty were also members of Luke's former commune.

As far as he could tell, all of the world events needed to make the commune prophecy come true had not happened. If they had, Luke was left behind, while the other commune members were in a different state of existence. But he had kept in touch with some of the commune members over the years, knew that they were still around, and so he concluded that this could not be true. In fact, he had received a text message from one of them just an hour before he started thinking about all of this.

So the demise of Oracle Jones and five of his high school class mates from the commune gave rise to growing doubt about the prophecy. Luke was confused, and as the years piled up questions entered his mind. His inner voice asked, “Where is this place we go to if we get a new body and leave this earth? Why can't we see this place through modern day telescopes? If there is a judgment day, how long will the line be? What else has to happed in world events to make the prophecy come true?”

As the questions continued relentlessly over the years, Luke finally came to the conclusion that dwelling on questions like this too often can drive a sane person crazy. So one day he said to himself, out loud,”That's it. I'm through seeking answers to unanswerable questions. Let the mystery be.”

Even so, those questions kept coming back to haunt him once in awhile. They had a life of their own.

It wasn't too long after that when Luke stumbled into his first California Bluegrass Association bluegrass festival. To say that bluegrass music grabbed Luke like a parent pulling a two year old from the path of an oncoming train would be an understatement.

At this festival he was eating a breakfast burrito around 8:30am while walking past a Sunday morning gospel service. He took a seat on a partially empty bench that was provided at this event. And then a strange thing happened to him.

After about an hour of gospel music, stories, and interactions with some of the people there, who had a certain look about them that he had never seen before, a sudden calm swept over him. A calm that he
could not explain. But after thirty minutes of introspection he whispered, “A supernatural sense of joy.”

When the gospel event concluded, Luke wandered around the festival grounds looking for jam groups. He felt a magnetic pull to jams that included gospel songs.

Luke became a member of the California Bluegrass Association that day, and he discovered that bluegrass festivals are held all over California. He attends as many as he can, rain or shine. If a festival has a gospel service Luke will be there. You might just recognize him by a certain look he has on his face.

And by the way, those perplexing, unanswerable questions that have bothered Luke all those years? They don't come to him anymore....

Posted:  10/9/2010

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