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Meditation Patchett

Meditation Patchett

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Published by Dew Nada

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Published by: Dew Nada on Oct 18, 2009
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10/17/2009

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A Contemplative Journey:An Interview with Joseph Patchetton Christian Mysticism
Hi, I’m Jim Arraj, and today we are going to meet Joseph Patchett,a man who has a deep knowledge of Christian mysticism and St. John of the Cross, and this is a knowledge that has come throughhis own conversion and his attempts to live out the contemplativelife, working at a regular job and as a married man with sixchildren. We visited him here in Manchester, Massachusetts northof Boston. Joe: I was born in 1935, and Patchettland was out in the countryand there were six of us children. I was the second child, and itwas a very peaceful, quiet existence, nothing like we live today.When I was young my mother went to work during the day andmy father stayed home. We lived on a ranch and we had a lot oftime on the ranch. We used to play in the woods and run wild, soto speak. We didn’t have a lot of chores. As we got older we didhave to help with the cows and we had more chores as we gotolder, but I don’t know, it was just a very peaceful existence,happy, no trauma, you know? Almost hard to describe unless youwrote a book about it because it was so unusual compared withtoday’s life. We didn’t have a lot of money. Mom used to makeour shirts. We got one new pair of shoes a year to go to school. Ididn’t like to go to school. I had to put those shoes on.
 
We ranbarefoot all summer. It was warm in California.Starting in high school I can remember thinking that the peoplewho knew what they wanted to do were the lucky people because
 
they would achieve something. They had a goal and they wouldgo after it. I never seemed to have one. I even went to college for aquarter to study mechanical engineering, but I just didn’t like it. Ihad no ambition. I liked to party, but I just didn’t have anyambition. I worked at various jobs, one of which was a fire-fighting job for the federal forestry, but that was seasonal. So,having tried a quarter of college, and having worked for theforestry for a season of eight months, I had nothing to do. I justdecided to go in the Air Force, I don’t know why. I think my dadwas relieved. He realized I was sort of floating, and he wonderedwhat I was going to do with my life, too. And I liked flying or theidea of flying, but I didn’t go into pilot training or anything, Iguess it was romantic, and I thought the Air Force would be ahighly disciplined, idealistic group to be involved in, so I joinedthe Air Force for four years. It was an easy thing to do, beingyoung and foolish.In the Air Force it just seemed to me that people were aimless,and I was very disillusioned with the Air Force because it was notthat idealistic, and there was not that much training anddiscipline required, and then the job became very humdrum. Itwas radar. I just had this urgency to do something with my life, tomake some meaning out of my life. It was like I grew up theminute I left home. I began to grow up, and I began to look forsomething that is meaningful to dedicate my life to. And I beganto read all sorts of things that had to do with unusual things inscience. I don’t think you would call some of the reading... it wasmystical types of things in the non-religious sense.I was driving a friend of mine’s car, which was a big, old heavyPackard, and I was driving down a road in California that was atwo-lane road, it was an old road. It was concrete, and it had just
 
started to rain, and the first rain in California on an old road likethat is slippery because there is oil and dust on the road, and it isstarting to mix with the water. But I didn’t know that at the time,and I didn’t know that the rear tires on the car were bald, theywere balonies. The speed limit was 55 and I was driving aboutthat speed, and I stepped on the gas to pass. I wasn’t drivingrecklessly or anything, but as I turned back into my lane the carbegan to go sideways down the road. Now, it went completelysideways, and I tried to correct for it and took my foot off the gas,but it was like on ice, and I am sliding down the road like thissideways at 60 miles an hour, and sliding off the road graduallytowards this huge tree, and I could see this tree coming up for me,like I said, at 60 miles an hour, and it is going to hit me rightwhere I am sitting. So I laid down in the seat. I was calm enough,and I just laid down in the seat just before impact. The car sureenough did hit, folded in the car where I was sitting, hit me on therump, broke some bones in my lower back, vertebrae, crushedthem, and folded the car in. The car smashed against that tree,and apparently people coming from behind and in the otherdirection, they all saw me and they all missed me because I hitthat tree and the car went across the highway and it didn’t tipover and landed in a ditch upright. Of course, I am lying in theseat, out of breath and I can’t breathe. All of a sudden peoplecome over and get the other door open, and I remember one ladysaying, “Oh, the poor man, the poor person.” Right after that anambulance came by from the Air Force base right where I wasstationed, and they stopped to see what was going on, and theyfound out I belonged to the base, and they said, “Well, we’ll takehim on to base.” So they sort of lifted me out. I couldn’t bend, andthey lifted me onto a stretcher, put me in the ambulance and tookme to base where I laid there for it seems like about three daysuntil finally they said, “Gee, he’s got a broken back. We’ve got to

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