No teacher should strive to make others think as he thinks, but to lead them to the living Truth, to the Master himself, of whom alone they can learn anything, who will make them in themselves know what is true by the very seeing of it.
George MacDonald ~ Unspoken Sermons, Third Series
A Hair perhaps divides the False and True—
And upon what, prithee, may life depend?
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
Face and the Patriarch were no longer drinking buddies. After the special men’s meeting with Holly and me, Face began looking on the Patriarch with critical eyes. He began to doubt that every word the latter said was from God. He began to question his doctrine. His doubts intensified after the Patriarch suggested that he abandon me during my pregnancy, a notion with Face soundly rejected.
It was during this time that the Patriarch announced that the Lord was calling him on another missionary trip, one that would take him into Texas and end up in Durango. I don’t know about the missionary part, but I did think it was more of a search and rescue. By this time, the commune was losing its popularity as a place for ex-hippies to hang out and forsake all, and it was hemorrhaging members. Moreover, the people who were leaving were part of the In Crowd.
Note: When the In Crowd leaves a church, it is no longer interesting. For any church to survive, it has to have a critical mass of cool people.
Some of the recalcitrant sheep had wandered back to Durango, so the Patriarch decided to go there to bring them back. He dragged God into it by doing a “thus saith the Lord.”
He chose five other people to go with him: his wife, Graham and Kit, one of the younger brothers, and Face and me. Given the tension between Face and the Patriarch, it seemed odd at the time that we were included in the entourage, but now that I think about it, it makes sense. Face was the only one of the Clan left (the coolest of the cool people), and the Patriarch did not want him leaving the commune in his absence. Face was also one of the main moneymakers, having a tidy little business at the house doing minor auto bodywork and painting. The Patriarch could ill afford to lose him, so he decided to “keep his enemy close.”
I was so sick because of the pregnancy that it made little difference to me whether I was miserable at the commune or miserable on the road. On the plus side, the stop in Durango would give me an opportunity to see my family. I knew they would properly commiserate with my condition. So the Patriarch prophesied that we would leave on such and such a date. The day came and went, and we were still in Fresno. The Patriarch revised his prophecy to a later date, which also came and went. Face busted his chops him about whether or not he was really hearing from God, seeing as how God could not seem to make up his mind on when we should leave. This really fried the Patriarch’s toast, and so he announced that if we did not leave by July first, then he was no prophet. A mad scramble ensued to get us out of Fresno at the appointed time. When we reached the city limits, the Patriarch pointed out to Face that we had officially left Fresno on the date he said we would.
The route that the Patriarch planned to take was from Fresno to San Bernardino to Phoenix to El Paso to Corpus Christie to Amarillo to Albuquerque to Durango. Along the way, he was going to stop at a few churches in which he used to preach when he was a traveling evangelist.
I remember watching miles of desert highway go by out of back of the metro bus; the doors had been tied back in order to let the air in. I did not know where we were heading or why. I didn’t know why I was there. I had been cast in a supporting role in someone else’s drama, and it was all I could do to hold on. My crochet hook had been left behind.
Face was also having a hard time of it, between seeing his wife suffer and watching the discrepancy between what was actually happening and the stories the Patriarch was telling. What may have been hidden at the commune was exposed in the close quarters of the metro. Face no longer believed what the Patriarch said was true because he was seeing it with his own eyes. The Patriarch was aware of this and was not too keen on it. They rarely spoke.