Some men who came into Baraterre today tell me that the little church my father built decades ago has fallen off the edge of Church Cay into the sea. A church that had been there before it, built in the eighteenth century, did the same thing a long time ago. The news has started me thinking. We want so desperately to believe that our lives are uplifted lines, like pistons below our feet that we fight to balance on as we are sent soaring, always higher, out of the crude depths of our origins. But they aren’t. Each life is a spiral, a series of concentric revolutions that brings us within arm’s lengths of our past, again and again.
This is the story of my spiraling life, and I’ll try to be brief. Maybe you can make something out of it. My story, that is, up to this point.
I was born on an island in the Exuma chain in the Caribbean. My parents were white missionaries, southerners. I was born about as close to godlessness as I possibly could be, under the circumstances, above a bar in Baraterre called Fat Billy’s Ball ‘n’ Chain. My mother was living there above the bar in a rented room, but my father was on another island by himself building a church with no windows, no doors, and no prospect of a congregation. In other words, a house of God that not even God would set foot in, if he could find a way inside.