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Suburban Home It was evening. I was eight, my younger brothers and sisters had just been put to bed. Mom and dad wanted to talk with me alone in the family room of our home.

It was then that time stopped; winter began; and the earth’s rotation was altered; Santa was exposed; never again were there “blue moons” or innocent warm summer days lying on the grass imagining shapes, characters and creatures in the billowy clouds above. The neighbor’s dog became mean, my younger “brothers” and “sisters” weren’t really brothers and sisters… my family became opaque, a faded hue, less real.My bedroom became smaller and now there were nightly burglars and malevolent strangers perusing my windows, terrorizing me, waiting for the opportunity to do me harm. It was that evening I learned of a father who died, and it was then that something in me died as my mom had.

My father was drafted and killed in the Korean Conflict. My mom was 21, I was three months, 14 days old. The concussion, the trauma of God allowing her lover, a fine and godly man die left her lifeless… about 6 rows from the front, on the left, in a pew alone crying most every Sunday. 

She remarried. A retired naval officer became my dad; he adopted me and changed my name from McConnell to Barnard. I was too young to remember any of this and the secret was neatly kept until the evening I was called into the family room. There I was told, “Craig…your dad isn’t your father. Your father was killed in a war when you were born. I married your dad when you were little…and he loves you very much”. And for this little guy all the adventures of boyhood in our Southern California baby boomer neighborhood were indelibly changed.

It is inevitable. We’re all wounded in some way. (To think you aren’t is to scoff at the beauty of Eden, the heart of God and the violation that sin is.) The scar of our wounds endure and with them some message that becomes the script by which we live.

As a young boy the first draft of my script was, “I’m different. Everyone else has a father…  There is something wrong with me!”

Sea Gull As life unfolds the message goes through numerous edits while staying true to the theme. The second edit came in my adolescence. Living disoriented with the pain and loneliness of not having my “real” father coupled with a variety of insecurities centered on the abiding question, “What’s wrong with Me”, and a culturally affirmed rebelliousness it was pretty easy to provoke my dad, the 20 plus year naval veteran. And so, having lit his fuse, at the intersection of the hall and his bedroom, he grabbed me, shook me and for the first of several times told me, “You are nothing but a seagull. All you’re good for is sitting, squawking and shitting”.

A Navy “Lifer” knows a seagull when he sees one.

No significant re-edits were needed following this.

I have absolutely nothing to offer… I sit, squawk and shit. Period.

That script held up well…for decades.

(I will continue the story, but let me ask... Do you know your wound? What script/message have you been given with it? Could it be that there is another script for us to live by?  Where and how do we find out?)

- Craig McConnell

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