Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

String of events bring life, death, healing into focus

I pray, dear reader, that you permit me to detour from the mindless wanderings of my typical prattle. Today's fare will ponder the gift of life, the heartache of death, and the pangs of healing that follow the hurt.

My week has been an emotional roller coaster. It will be tough to tell this tale with my usual allotment of ink.

The week began with my publisher asking me to write about a local ministry with international ties. Next came the surprise birth of a baby goat, and its subsequent death, at my little Fallbrook hobby farm. And finally, the week came to a close with me helping a dear friend prepare for his brother's memorial service.

So please forgive me if my words fall miserably short of making sense. Life, death, abortion, grief, regret and healing are not easy subjects to unpack.

Let's begin with my goats.

My female goat, Honey, suddenly started making a ton of noise and, to my complete bewilderment, I looked out my bedroom window just as a baby popped out of her backside. Idiot me, I didn't even know she was pregnant.

Honey had never been part of a goat herd, and I'd been told that males would kill babies. Thus, Honey and her kid got shunted off to my chicken coop. Honey didn't know that she needed to nurse the baby, and my unsuccessful efforts to teach her were embarrassingly hilarious.

I named the newborn "Erica" after the Major Market cashier who rang up the baby bottles and the goat milk that I bought in my ham-handed bid to nurse the infant. I appeared to master the task, and the baby fed ravenously for days.

Then came my interview with Gayle Kott, executive director of the Fallbrook chapter of Deeper Still. The nonprofit group has 29 existing chapters and several in the formation stages.

The ministry, which traces its origin to Tennessee in 2008, has hosted hundreds of free retreats aimed at healing the emotional wounds that women and men have suffered when their conception ended with an abortion.

Gayle, who is 62 and has lived in the area for nearly 40 years, is one of the founders of the Fallbrook chapter. The local group has hosted about 40 retreats and training sessions since it formed 10 years ago. Some are offered in Spanish.

Gayle – a mother, grandmother and published author – earns a small stipend for her work. She is a woman of deep faith. She frequently tells her own abortion story as she points to God's love as a way to ease the pain, guilt and regret that can accompany the medical procedure.

Some 65 million abortions have been performed in our country since the Supreme Court legalized that birth control method in 1973. That controversial court precedent has recently been rolled back, but abortion remains a visceral issue in our nation.

I've known Gayle for many years from a local church: SonRise Christian Fellowship. SonRise has been extremely supportive of Deeper Still. Two other stalwarts of that church, Cindy McAvoy and Miriam Kirk, are key leaders in this important local ministry.

"I've learned a lot over the past 10 years, and I've still got a lot to learn," Gayle told me in a phone interview. "I've heard stories that would give (horror writer) Stephen King nightmares. But (God) never lets them down. He is there to meet them each and every time."

Then, a day later, I found my baby goat near death in the chicken coop. I could see no obvious injuries. I theorized that the mother goat, perhaps spooked by a coyote prowling outside the chicken coop, had possibly stepped on the baby and caused fatal internal injuries.

I was heartbroken, and I couldn't help but wonder whether I had done enough to keep this precious creature alive. I buried Erica in my backyard not far from the goat pen. I grieved as I did so.

I pondered the pain I felt. If the passing of a baby goat hurt so much, how great would be the woe of ending a human life before it began?

Finally, I was able to help a friend borrow an easel that would be needed at his brother's upcoming memorial service at the historic Reche Schoolhouse. He died after a long and difficult fight against cancer.

Death takes its toll. We must help each other heal.


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