A Reflection from Kairos 91
Segments from a college fictional writing assignment by Keith Enterante ’11, Kairos 91 Retreat Rector
It’s a wonder how so many miracles can happen in a room. And how they are issued from the mouths of forty-six high school seniors. Well, actually their hearts. Maybe God was present, maybe He wasn’t, but when a seventeen year-old boy learns the magic of empathy, I suppose anything is possible. The room was white, a massive projector screen consuming its center core, a beacon of promise and potential. A black amplifier sits behind forty-six chairs and in front of two long oak benches, where I plopped myself to witness the miracles. Then there was the podium. It was placed in front of the projector screen, where the boys watched song lyrics tell stories that only the amplifier could voice. It was at this podium where I watched forty-six hearts courageously bleed for the sake of empathy and understanding. It was there where clarity for all who have searched for seventeen years, whether they knew it or not, was discovered.
I have always appreciated the power of stories. It’s no wonder I want to be a novelist, punching keys to reach hearts all around the world. Writing, indeed, is bleeding, especially because it holds no promises. My stories may or may not assimilate themselves into society, and I may or may not make money from them, but in this one life, I know that writing is what I was born to do. And sometimes, that’s enough. Novels, the beautiful babies of a writer’s mastered craft, often go unnoticed- collecting dust on a shelf, untouched and forgotten like bitter memories. Ironic that so many of those stories are born from bitter memories, and people pass them by ignorant of their power and love.
But what happens when a story is voiced, and not written? What happens when a boy verbally confronts his past for the first time, and faces it like a man for the first time? Tears fall, hugs envelop the room, and spirits are lifted to shine through the darkness. Know what else is ironic? I’m recollecting my memory of last week for a fiction writing class, but there is nothing fiction about it. What was fiction were the personal lies those forty-six boys told themselves before the retreat. Among those: real men don’t cry, it’s not cool to be a gentle…man, and God’s love is conditional. The podium erased those lies and so many more, the podium unmasked loving truths, the podium told the story, and I watched from an oak bench.
You would think the miracles would be found elsewhere. You would think they’d unveil themselves outside of that room, in the hills that overlooked Santa Barbara, which was shrouded in a fog, like a bad omen from the aftermath of Deltopia’s darkness and destruction. Deltopia’s lies. We were above the fog – above the lies, and overhead the sky was golden blue. You could hear the wind rustle the eaves by day, and the cicadas and toads belt their throaty songs by night. The view was beautiful. The forty-six boys came from below; they weaved through those green hills in a large bus that was their one-way ticket to clarity. They climbed the mountain lost and choked from bitter life memories, and descended it four days later touched by the spirit of love and empathy. They ascended the mountain as boys, and descended it as men.
With open hearts, the tears bled freely from forty-six men. Empathy stole the room and chased the lies outside of the door, passed the marble statues that watched a quiet pond like angels, passed the ghostly dormitories where the wind often howled at night like undead spirits, passed the courtyard where forty-six boys first arrived weighed down by masks, and it is my hope that those lies died in Santa Barbara’s fog down the hill below. Like I said, God may or may not have been present, but at that moment, empathy’s magic established itself in a new atmosphere of love, hope, and clarity. And love is what humans do best.
This was my fifth time up the mountain, but this is my first time writing about it. It’s 11:55 p.m. and this assignment is due tomorrow. But I’ve hardly been working, hardly bleeding, because when I descended the mountain, I was changed too. My mind has never been clearer; I’ve never been so enveloped by so much understanding.