"A friend from Yale who hadn’t been in touch since graduation looked him up after envisioning a suicide attempt; the phone in Murphy’s Fargo home rang just as the local retired farmer, hunting enthusiast and poet loaded his double-barreled shotgun. Instead of ending his life, a two-hour conversation led him to relinquish the gun.
"After his conversion, Murphy still hadn’t completely resolved his past, he said, including sexual abuse by an altar boy at age 6 and by an almost-ordained Jesuit priest he met in college at age 18. He also had lingering questions about his homosexuality and the church.
But four weeks after he heard the booming voice, he found peace.
It came by way of a dream about Pope John Paul II, he said.
“I walked him down to the waterfront, and he said vespers and heard my confession, but mainly he heard me bitching about the Catholic attitude toward gays,” Murphy said. “At the conclusion of the dream, all he said was, ‘Te Dominus amat’… He didn’t say, ‘Ego te absolvo,’ ‘I forgive you,’ but simply, ‘God loves you.’"
"The next morning, Murphy turned on the radio and heard the bells from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome alerting the world that the pope had died."
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A chapel, not a church:
just a clearing in the wood
of aspen, pine and birch,
where a rude altar stood
pegged by a boy's hands;
behind it a birchwood cross
cross-lashed, but neither stands.
They are gone under the moss.
When I quit Wilderness Camp
I rose up from my knees
and left the altar lamp
burning in the trees.
Summits would loom above
the stony trails I trod.
Sex led me to love;
love bound me to God.
The night you died, I dreamed you came to camp
to hear confession from an Eagle scout
tortured by forty years of sin and doubt.
You whispered Vespers by a hissing lamp
Handlers, allowing you to hike with me,
followed us to the Bad Axe waterfront
down a firebreak this camper used to hunt.
Through all I said you suffered silently.
I blamed the authors of my unbelief:
St. Paul, who would have deemed my love obscene,
the Jesuit who raped me as a teen,
the altar boy when I was six, the grief
of a child chucked from Eden, left for dead
by Peter's Church and all the choirs above.
In a thick Polish accent choked with love,
Te Dominus amat was all you said.