Download it here, or subscribe
and get access to my entire library!
Do you remember your first love? Do you remember how it made you feel, how it changed everything for you?
In this bitingly personal essay, Shawn Michel de Montaigne takes you back almost fifty years to 1972 and his fourth-grade year at Tavelli Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the beautiful girl who would change his life forever.
Her name was Connie. And the love she and Shawn shared would bring into sharp, contrasting relief the serious, crippling dysfunction of his family, as well as the harsh realization, learned many years later, that what so many call love, what so many worship as love, what so many rape and murder and foul and destroy as love is anything but love. The Kingdom of God is a spacious land, wholly unpopulated. It's from that land and by the side of the angel that graced Shawn's life for nine short months that he looks out and forward upon the broader canvas of life. It is a unique viewpoint, made tragically more so by the fact that the angel—Connie—would not remember Shawn or their relationship after that year out of the need to protect the innocence that is the birthright of all children, and which was violated repeatedly by one of her own family.
There is a strong propensity among adults to discard the lessons and joys of their childhood, likely heeding 1 Corinthians 13:11's admonition:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Wonderful. You've put childish ways behind you. But what about childlike ways? Being an adult for decades now, it is sadly obvious that those are almost universally discarded as well. For those who have done so, I can say categorically that the
The events listed in this essay are true. They took place in 1972 and 1973, when I was 10 years old. They, and the dear, beautiful girl who made them so memorable, so powerful, have stayed with me ever since. I have (largely, and most days, to be sure) discarded my childish ways. But not my childlike ways. I have Connie to thank for that.
There are embellishments to various events. They could not be helped. I'm here to tell you a story, not recite a police blotter or itemize a journalist's notepad. The embellishments are there to provide a fuller, more focused feel to the story, much as a photography software program adds focus to a blurry photo, or more clarity, or more light, or more color or contrast. One can argue that those elements falsify the truth, and maybe you'd be right. But there is a difference between experience and the so-called reality so many people are so willing to sell their souls to (or just give them away). I tried, verbally, to photograph for you the experiences of that year, which I feel is an attempt at a higher truth than simply providing known and remembered facts, even if the tools I used to do so introduced elements that are time-bound in the here and now and hence may or may not reflect entirely accurately upon past events.
I changed names when appropriate. When appropriate, I didn't.
True love is exceedingly rare in this world. You can let that fact depress you, which it did me for many years, or you can join those of us who dare to embody it, to live it, to walk the Narrow Path that leads from the Narrow Gate. The choice, as always, and for all eternity, is yours to make. Be childlike. The survival of Earth depends on it.
Shawn Michel de Montaigne
The Cloud of Mystery
The Cloud of Mystery