Friday, May 24, 2013

The Journey / A Reflection of MY Life - Traveling with Hollis

Compiled from FB post by FCNews Staff / 

ROXIE -  As a person and writer, I have said in the past …
“Sometimes in our lives we tend to make choices or decisions based on our whims or supposedly gratification. These  choices or decisions are not always the best” … “once we get older, we realize that maybe we have a chance to change things or at least ‘set things straight’ 
This article was complied from posting by Hollis McGehee, who is a family friend who decided to ‘get away’ and take some time to reflect upon His world, His word and maybe His understanding of life and forgiveness … maybe of himself or maybe of others … Hollis is traveling by train from Hattisburg, Ms to New York City, New York.  With permission, I am attempting to share in this traveled journey by Hollis through his Facebook postings. It is a reflection of Hollis's thoughts that we have brought to you, the reader, all within this article … 

His journey  began on Wednesday, May 22nd in the early morning .. To begin to follow you have to know that Hollis had 'thought the following' and then wrote his thoughts down as a Facebook post  …. 

One of my goals for this time off (May 22 - June 9) is to continue to take a look at my life - to try to understand my failures, learn better from them and to try to understand life, in general better. I part of that process and a part of trying to heal from huge mistakes I have made and the failures that flow from those has been my efforts at writing out some of those events. The process has been very strengthening and healing and I encourage everyone to try it.
What I have not known is whether it was something to be shared by publication or whether its just for me to learn from. Since this is my only experience in life and I have made some blunders this may be another but I am going to post below an excerpt from the opening of my writings to invite some serious thought as to whether this seems to be something that might benefit as well as hopefully entertain others. So, I am going to just let it rip and I do invite challenging but constructive criticism.
The Journey Begins > 

Wednesday at 1:05 AM (May 22nd)
New York City bound first thing in the morning - will be posting prayers and maybe a little travel log but prayers might come at odd times rather than usual times - I am going to allow myself a little more lee-way while on this trip. We will all continue to pray for folks in Oklahoma and other needs too! Thanks, God bless you.

Morning PrayerO LORD as we awake to a new day - we know that it is you who made this day - it is you who had brought us into this day - it is you and you only who will bring us through this day - our hope is in you, our eyes are upon you, our strength is in and through you - you O LORD are our reason for everything - every good and perfect gift is from you O LORD, coming down from above from you O LORD the Father of the heavenly lights - may we live this day loving you and loving those to whom you bring us and may we be ever praying for those and helping those and sharing with those who are hurting and in need - help us O LORD to be merciful even as you have shown us mercy by bringing us into this day and by your grace through it. Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow and to whom all glory shall be given. Amen.
Wednesday via iOS My great friend Barbie - she and her husband Wade (friend from Co-Lin days) took me out to eat last night and got me to depot on time this morning. Thanks Barbie - Wade !

Wednesday via iOS Point of embarkation - Hattiesburg - headed to slightly larger but not prettier goal of Penn Station! 

Wednesday via mobile Welcome to steel town Alabama - Birmingham !

Wednesday via mobile In Atlanta @ 17 hours to go - enjoying trip but I can see where sleeper would be nice ! Thanks for all kind / encouraging words!

Wednesday via mobile It's a rainy night in Georgia, such a rainy might in Georgia - it must be raining all over the world - and I can hear that lonesome whistle blow - the ride that seems so long - you can hear that whistle blow 500 miles ! ( boy I mixed up some songs there)

Yesterday via mobile Pullin outa. Charllotte, NC at 1:57 am listening to a James Lee Burke Mystery

Yesterday via mobile Morning Prayer
Good Morning LORD - We give you thanks for this new day and the opportunities it brings to love and serve you and those you bring our way this day. LORD, help us to live this day with the assurance of your presence and your peace as we pursue your purposes and your plans in and through us. Father we especially pray for those we find most challenging in our lives, for those who appear to be the most disruptive - and we thank you LORD. For how you are using life's challenges to shape us into vessels you can use for kingdom purposes. Amen
Yesterday via mobile Morning Prayers
O LORD as we begin this new day we lift up our eyes unto you and fully acknowledge that you and you alone have brought us into this new day and to this place in our lives, it is you whoa die us and not we ourselves - through you, in you and by you we can do all things you have purposes but apart from you we can do nothing. Father we especially pray this morning for those who we find most difficult and challenging - Lord bless them we pray and help us to see it is in and through those very challenges you shape and mold us as vessels for your service. Amen.
Yesterday via mobile Charlottesville, Virginia !

Yesterday via mobile Alexandria, VA then DC then Philly then NY !

Yesterday via mobile In DC - can see U S Capitol out window! Just passed DC Yacht club where many of our leaders no doubt go for ... That was cynical - only that which is helpful for building up- oops then into a tunnel and no sights to see - hoping we and rest of Washington to come out of darkness into His marvelous light !

Yesterday via mobile Oops here's Baltimore- I forgot it but even people from Baltimore don't want to get off here - that's sad!

Yesterday via mobile  Think I just crossed the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania

Yesterday via mobile Poor geography on my part- I am not in Pennsylvania yet because we just got to Wilmington Delaware - oops

Yesterday via mobile Funny, when I got on in Hattiesburg I was told to sit in seat 20 - young man asleep in his and my seat belt- he wasn't particularly happy to have company but that young man, Garrett, just got off in Philadelphia and said he doesn't like goodbyes (me either) now we are friends and he knows I am praying for him as he starts over back in his old hometown of Lancaster, PA

Yesterday via mobile Trenton NJ - we weren't there a minute!

Yesterday via mobile  Just passed a Ferrari dealership in Newark- I was looking for Colonel Frank Slade to be outside - must a just missed him-

Yesterday via mobile Just got a chill I can just start to see the skyline of NYC

Yesterday via mobile  Last post : coming into the city- my phone just fell on the floor when I picked it up was open to Bible from John 14- Jesus saying "you know the way..." That God or what! Thank you LORD

Yesterday via mobile  There's the statute of liberty! Wow! Now to find the ferry

Yesterday via mobile Found ferry - homeland security lab just stopped and sniffed my bag- they are on point - thanks be to God

23 hours ago via mobile Waiting on ferry - have already made one food friend- young man carrying a 1960's model Gibson - plays jazz music - very helpful - going to invite me to hear him play this week - helped me with subway - I said tell your mama she has an angel - he took time to help - several other folks as well

23 hours ago On ferry - beautiful view of city - someone asked me for help! 

23 hours ago Give me your ... 

17 hours ago I am in my little apartment, sort of underground, on / in Staten Island - been for a walk around the neighborhood, found a "bodega" - not sure they understood what I said but I went in and scored a diet coke (no coke zero - James Brumfield you need to get on your drivers / delivery men) a couple of bananas and some washing detergent. It is a beautiful "residential" area - lots of old, old houses and old churches nearby and some "high rise" housing areas - the Hudson River is visible from the corner and tomorrow I intend to begin my searching, enjoying, touring of New York - tonight I really want some sleep. I love peter pan peanut butter but I will need to find something different tomorrow and I know I am in a great place for that. 

There is a Chinese restaurant around the corner and I don't have Sandra Bullock here to order two number threes, a number four and five number sixes so one of you up to date Chinese folks who know I only eat really basic things - tell me a sure fire Chinese thing which will be palatable to a country boy ! 

9 hours ago  Morning Prayers
Dear LORD, we are your children, help us we pray - help us today to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; help us today to love our neighbor, near and far, and especially the ones we don't like. We confess we have sinned against you and done what is evil in your sight; forgive us and cleanse us, blot out all our transgressions, wash us and we shall be whiter than snow. Create in us a clean heart, O LORD and renew a right spirit within us. Father, we pray for the little ones, all the little ones, draw them to you, help your people all over to be a light to them and help them to see the path to you as you work in the little ones and through your people to shine your light that they may come to know Jesus as LORD and Savior we pray. Amen.

9 hours ago NOTHING IN MY HAND I BRING . . . !

Psalm 51:1
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

David, a "man after God's own heart" came to God, confessing his sin and seeking forgiveness. David was truly a great man, a strong man of God, he did many great things. He killed Goliath when all of the Israelites were afraid to even go out and face him. 

So, how did this great man after God's own heart approach God for forgiveness ?

The only way any of us may approach -

not based upon anything in us

not based upon any thought of any good we claim to have done

David approached God based solely on God's attributes - God's love, God's compassion, God's mercy - that is to say God's very nature.

David came with an awareness of his own great failures and the fact he didn't deserve forgiveness but came straight to God because of who God is.

"Nothing in our hand we bring, simply to the cross we cling..."

O God we come - by your grace, because of your mercy, according to your love - we come because of Jesus - none of us can come any other way - have mercy on us, forgive us we pray. Amen.

9 hours ago  
Worship is the "thank you" that refuses to be silenced.
Max Lucado


The family who live upstairs from my apartment on Staten Island have some really happy feet and I am able to share the sounds of all that is done and said there ! Here I am sitting in my apartment on a rainy New York morning typing on revisions to my book (which may not ever get past my eyes) which I title "A River To Cross (A Story of Life)" **  and I hear this young couple playing one of my favorite old melodies of all time "Moon River" - is that cool or what!

4 hours ago TAKING A RISK

One of my goals for this time off (May 22 - June 9) is to continue to take a look at my life - to try to understand my failures, learn better from them and to try to understand life, in general better. I part of that process and a part of trying to heal from huge mistakes I have made and the failures that flow from those has been my efforts at writing out some of those events. The process has been very strengthening and healing and I encourage everyone to try it. 

What I have not known is whether it was something to be shared by publication or whether its just for me to learn from. Since this is my only experience in life and I have made some blunders this may be another but I am going to post below an excerpt from the opening of my writings to invite some serious thought as to whether this seems to be something that might benefit as well as hopefully entertain others. So, I am going to just let it rip and I do invite challenging but constructive criticism.

A while back I had as my {Facebook} profile photo a picture of me and old Elibrah, my horse, crossing a river - if I ever publish that would hopefully be the cover (suggested by Carroll Case) of the book titled: 

(A Story of Life)
By: Hollis McGehee

What does it mean when a door that has always been open is suddenly closed? Jails have played a prominent role in my life, I have been going in and out of prisons and jails since the late 1960s. I have gone from visiting prisoners in the county jail during my teenage years to working with “transitional living” inmates at Parchman during my law school days. As an attorney, I have been in many prisons and jails across the State of Mississippi to counsel with clients charged with crimes. As a child of God I have visited with inmates for spiritual purposes from the county jails to Maximum Security and Death Row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. For fifty years I have passed in and out of these many jails and prisons freely but on one particular night it was suddenly different: I was shackled and the jail door wasn’t opening for me this time. 

Chapter One
Life Is Like A River
(My river is the Homochitto)

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God…” Psalm 46:4a, NIV

A river is defined as a “natural stream of water that flows in a channel with more or less defined banks.” In the sense that life is like a river, it seems to me people, like rivers, come in many different types. Just as all rivers have banks that define them, so people come with defining characteristics. 

There are times when the rivers jump their own banks and flow outside the banks – almost always resulting in damage to their own banks and the areas around them. Depending on the scope and length of the flood the damages can be extensive. Likewise, all people have their moments when they flow outside and beyond the normal “banks” of their personal characteristics. Like rivers, the overflow from each of us always has an impact in our own lives and the lives of others. 

My life has been sprinkled with many floods; floods that have often defined me, damaged me and tragically damaged the lives of others. Just as a river flood hurts its own banks the most so floods in our own lives inflict damage on us and those we love the most. 

Floods are a natural part of the cycle of rivers yet we seek ways to effectively limit the damages from those floods. In the same way, “floods” in people are a part of the cycle of life; but today I seek to have flood controls in place, I don’t wish to inflict more damage on those around me or myself. To the full extent possible, I now seek a life that flows within the banks. 

If life is like a river, one must ask which river best represents his own life. I don’t have to think long or even pause to answer this question, the Homochitto River is the picture of my life. We enjoy many connections and bear similar marks in our history, although admittedly I have nothing to rival her beauty. My love affair with the Homochitto goes back to my early childhood.

I discovered long ago that Southwest Mississippi and particularly Franklin County, Mississippi to be the geographic center of the universe. At the heart of this center point is a strong and handsome lady, the Homochitto. God spoke in creation and as He spoke the Homochitto River came forth from the throne of God and she has continued throughout the long and many generations of time and man.

The Homochitto’s headwaters are along the common boundary between Copiah County and Lincoln County, Mississippi. She flows ninety miles from her headwaters to her confluence with her big sister the “Mighty Mississippi”! In those ninety miles the Homochitto flows through and across Franklin County from its northeast corner to its very southwest corner. 

As the Homochitto traverses Franklin County she clearly divides the forests, fields and hills of the county with her flowing white sand beaches and sustains those same forests and fields with her clear nectar of life sustaining waters.

The lady we call Homochitto has not always looks as she does today, having undergone radical transformation over time. Long ago, before she was first touched by man, the Homochitto was slower, deeper and narrower as she had been for thousands of years. In 1938, the Army Corp of Engineers re-directed this elegant lady out of the old Mississippi River channel now known as Lake Mary directly into the main channel of the Mississippi a little north of their former point of confluence. 

The result of this extensive and challenging engineering feat was to speed this old lady up and the increased speed of her flow began a destructive erosion of her own banks. In the last seventy years she has become broader and lost much of her depth. In the place of her heavily forested banks she developed wide beautiful white sand beaches. Instead of the deep slow girl of “her youth” she is now wider and shallower yet quite sparkling and beautifully framed by her long strips of white sand beaches. 

In the same way the Homochitto defines and divides Franklin County, she has likewise flowed over, through and across the sixty years of my life both defining and dividing. She is a real beauty, but as with all beauties there are times when the beast side of the beauty shows up. Just as the Homochitto has undergone great changes so it seems I have experienced dramatic changes as well and many times the “beast” has reared its ugly head. 

This story of life and rivers is the one I seek to share with you in these pages with the hope of encouraging you to take a close and honest look at your own life. I pray you will find laughter, encouragement, strength and humility here as I share with you some times of calm and some cataclysmic floods and the lessons I have learned in my life. I also hope at some level these pages may help you avoid some of the dangerous currents and eddies of life. May God bless you and draw you to Him as you read this account of this writer’s search for meaning and direction in the river of life.

Chapter Two
The River Runs Early

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”” (John 7:38, ESV) 

In my heart I am “wed” to the Homochitto for better and for worse and there has been a lot of both. I learn from “worse” but I choose to focus on and cling to the “better”. As I pen these very words I write from the bank of the Homochitto where I have experienced many of my greatest joys and my worst failures. She is a beautiful river and in many ways it represents the course of my own life: its nature has changed drastically over time, it can be calm and serene and it can be tumultuous, it has been very productive but it has periods and times where it is barren and destructive. I have experienced all of these flows in my own life; I believe most of us can identify with a favored river or stream – if we are willing to honestly look at the river and ourselves honestly. I cherish and enjoy this great river and my life, the good, the bad and the ugly!

The Homochitto and I have been involved throughout my life; I have been in, on and around the Homochitto since I was a very young child. I have walked it, fished it, hunted in and on it, treasure hunted on it, partied on and in it, loved in and on it, worshipped God from whom it really flows on it and in it. I have built camps and cabins on it, entertained myself and many others on it, I have laughed and cried on its banks more times than I can count. I have lived on the Homochitto most of my life.

One of my earliest memories of being in the Homochitto is with my daddy. Mayes McGehee, now eighty nine and still a strong man, loves the outdoors and the Homochitto in particular but because of his extreme work ethic he spent precious little time enjoying the river as an adult. As a child he regularly “slipped off” to the Homochitto to swim, fish and enjoy the river with the other boys from Bude. The first time I was in the Homochitto my father took me to the place we all know as the “Proby Hole” . This locally infamous “swim hole” is the sight of many known drownings over the last hundred years. It is defined by a clay bank on the north bank of the river (Rio Vista Plantation owned by my Great Uncle Dan McGehee)and that clay extends out into the river creating a series of grottos and eddies and at times currents people tragically found to be deadly.

On this first trip I made to the Homochitto was my dad and I came to the Proby Hole from our side (south side, owned by my Grandfather, Dr. Claude McGehee) of the river across a large sand-bar which was crowded with plum orchards and huckleberry bushes. Today the plum thickets have given way to blight but the huckleberries are still plentiful. We rode to the sand-bar in daddy’s old Willys Jeep, which previously belonged to Mr. Bert McMillan. My first trip to the Homochitto was an adventure and it set the stage for a lifetime of adventures on and in this grand old lady!

I recall “trembling” when daddy put me in the Proby Hole the first time (about four or five years old) but quickly I settled in and had the first of a lifetime of good times on the Homochitto. There have been many times when my father and I have battled verbally and a few times, I choose not to detail, physically; but on that day I remember how it felt for him to hold me close. I felt safe and loved in his arms. That is a feeling I still have about my father today and it is the feeling that easily prevails over any other.

Chapter Three
“Setting Hooks” On The Homochitto

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea . . .” Genesis 1:26a NIV 

When I was about six or seven years old my daddy would take my friends and me “trot-lining” on the Homochitto. On a Friday afternoon late we would go down to the river and set up our camp. Then just before dark we would get in the river set out hooks on a long cotton line stretched across the channel of the river. Just below the Highway 98 bridge and a little above the Proby Hole are two ancient cypress stumps. These two massive old stumps stood high in the river as ancient witnesses to an earlier time and nature when the river was deep, slow, narrow and heavily forested with old growth cypress and other species. 

The process was to set the hooks out and bait them just at dark, get on the sandbar, build a fire and wait for the fish to bite. Then we would all get naked and wade out in the river at night to “check our lines”, see if we had any fish. If you knew my father you wouldn’t have any trouble understanding my shock at this serious departure from his usual impeccable dress habits and extreme attention to decorum. It showed me he was just a regular guy, something I had not realized previously. 

We didn’t usually catch a lot of catfish but we almost always caught a couple of “big” ones. Now, those fish were probably four to eight pound catfish but to a group of little boys they looked like whales when we waded off in the river and saw our line dancing up and down. The excitement at a fish catch was truly one of the clearest and most cherished of childhood memories. Setting hooks in the Homochitto was one of the earliest memories of enjoying the river and its bounty. The Homochitto was beginning its journey in and through my life.


Chapter Six
“A River Outside It’s Banks”

Just because something will fit in your mouth doesn’t mean it belongs there! This is a lesson I seemed to have missed. I didn’t know or apparently want to hear that the lines were there to help you color. 

Some doubt one’s ability to remember events from early childhood. Yet I have clear memories of events that occurred from around two years of age. I was only two the first time I had my stomach pumped out at Franklin County Memorial Hospital. 

I ate it because I thought it was ice cream! It was not ice cream, it was some type of cement type glue in a tube under the kitchen sink. My mother was washing dishes and I was playing on the floor, under the kitchen sink. Setting the example for most of the rest of my life, I saw something that looked good and with little thought and no restraint, I went for it full speed ahead.

My memory of what happened next is vivid and stark. They put me in a “straight jacket”, rolled me up in a sheet, trussed me up like a calf in a catch-pen squeeze chute. Once they had me all wrapped up they came at me with the stomach pump. Now I can’t describe to you exactly what it looked like but I can tell you for sure there was some part of it that was black and some other part was red. Those memories are pretty well etched into my mind to a level deep enough that I can almost associate smells with this great event. Here is what I seem to remember with the greatest clarity – I was the center of attention even if for a very brief time. I also seem to have a sensory awareness of being thrilled to some extent by that attention. I didn’t know it then but that thrill, that “rush” was something called adrenaline. 

My second encounter with a stomach pump occurred when Mr. Hilton May was treating the house on Railroad Avenue in Bude for various pests, of the insect variety not of the little boy variety. He had a sprayer that was a “bulb” type sprayer which was awfully attractive to a young man looking forward to his third birthday. While Mr. May and my mother were concluding the business of paying the bill, I was back behind them with the bulb in one hand and the business end of the sprayer in my mouth and trying hard to empty the rest of the pesticide into my mouth. My mother looked around and saw me and as she prepared to faint she cried out to Mr. May. He said, “Don’t worry Mrs. McGehee, that stuff wouldn’t hurt a flea.” Mother retorted “What in the world am I paying you for then?”

My career at Franklin County Memorial Hospital was really starting to bud by this time. Off to the stomach pump yet again. My trips there were far from over but I was becoming a well-recognized figure amongst the faithful at our tiny country hospital in the mid-1950s. 

Truly, I don’t believe I was intentionally overflowing the “banks” of normal childhood. Yet as I look back I am confronted with a very clear pattern of being hurt over and over in situations I should never have even been in. The pattern is one of un-intentional “thrill-seeking” leading to adrenaline rush euphoria. 

But, I am getting way ahead of myself. Life for me was grand, I had two older sisters who pulled me in the wagon, played with me in their playhouse and sometimes gave me much misery as I did them. I had parents who loved me and were doing their personal best to 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV) 


(Friday, May 24th /12.30 CST) About an hour ago via mobile Walked out to catch the ferry and there was a lady standing by my steps (to the street) I spoke / she spoke of God's mercy - invited me to mass down the street at beautiful cathedral - St Peters- went in and enjoyed Gospel reading and prayer - now I am waiting on the ferry - it's cold here - I obviously didn't plan my wardrobe well - all good - the kid from Prince Of Tides is playing his violin in the ferry station while all wait! Cool - did you know Staten Island has minor league team - the Yankees!

About an hour ago via mobile  How can you look at the mass of humanity, know each single person is a singular unique creation (with his / her own DNA) and conceive of a chance appearance from amoeba ... Be still and know that I am God!

......... and the journey continues (see Post Titled "The Journey Continues on Reflection of MY Life / Sunday 26th) 

Written by: John Bonds/Staff writer with permission by Hollis McGehee