My Unlikely Story of ‘Manure to Mysticism’
I was born in the summer of 1949 to Margaret and Wayne Titus, dairy farmers from Southwestern Minnesota. I grew up with an older sister and three younger brothers. We milked 25 Holsteins, they all had names, we had two horses, Midnight Lady and Dusty, a dog named Bozo, cats, chickens, sheep and pigs, none of them with names. What the farm lacked, for no apparent reason, were ducks, rabbits, geese and goats. Hills, railroad tracks, and a creek flowing into a river, surrounded our perfect little farm. Life was good.
For Elementary school, I attended a one-room country schoolhouse with eleven other farm kids. In High School it became evident that I was a poor student; in fact, one year my mother gave me a Transistor Radio for not getting any ‘F’s’ on my report card.
I wasn’t that good at farming either! One day I drove a tractor and manure spreader out onto the highway without looking left or right, I was nearly run over by a semi. Another time when I was shoveling manure, I over extended my reach and the shovel went out from under me and I went face-first into 6 inches of fresh manure. However, my greatest manure story was getting run over by a manure spreader, yes, a manure spreader, how embarrassing, fortunately the spreader didn’t have a load of manure on it, so I lived to tell about it, I guess God had greater plans for my life.
Since college and farming were out of the question, I was desperate for something to do after graduating from high school. God answered my prayer by taking this ‘Minnesota farm boy and moving him to Downtown Los Angeles’. I attended the California Lutheran Bible School, a school that I had never heard of until a couple of weeks before I moved to L.A.
Fast-foreward 26 years, with a stint in the Army, marriage, raising 5 kids with my wife Karen, working in the field of adolescent chemical dependency, I found myself standing at the doorstep of a profound-mystical-experience that would define the rest of my life.
On April Fools Day 1993, I purchased a little book called, A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly, a Quaker Theologian. When I read the following sentence, the most dramatic thing happened.
“Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul,
A holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice,
To which we may continually return.”
When I read this, I experienced a physical movement in my body, a felt-shift from my head to my soul; I call it my ‘Swoosh’.
In the twinkling of an eye everything changed, in that split second I became a Mystic, not even knowing what it was. This ‘non-ordinary consciousness’ changed my being, my thinking, and my relationship to God and others.
Everything became clear; there was no-longer any confusion, God and Creation made total sense. God’s Reality was my reality, the center of my universe was no longer self-contained, it was filled with the Presence of God.
This should have been enough to make this “Manure to Mysticism” story complete, but God had another, bigger and more important insight, waiting for me.
In the Summer of 2006, God asked me to contemplate the ‘Conception of Jesus’, not His birth, His conception. One of the ways that I delve into and contemplate an idea, is to look up related words in my 1954 Webster’s Dictionary, the big one with over 4,000 pages, most often found on a podium in a school library.
This is what I found when I looked up the word Incarnation:
“The Union of Divinity with humanity”.
Unbelievable, this is what God wanted me to discover — a simple yet profound definition of ‘Incarnation’.
Most of us begin this ‘Incarnational Story’ with the birth of Jesus. What would happen to our story, if we started ‘God’s Incarnational Story’ with the Union of Divinity with humanity; not only at the Conception of Jesus, but also as the source of our Salvation?
Answering this very question may be the reason why God took me off the farm in the first place and made me a Mystic. By reading this blog, it is my hope and prayer, that you too will discover a new depth and clarity to your ‘story’.