40 Years in America
William H. Shields III
I was born in America in the year 1955, which was a time when America was still a hopeful and optimistic place. I grew up in a small town of less than 5,000 in Pennsylvania where I learned the value of a family. I had loving parents and grandparents who worked hard and were good people. My paternal grandparents owned a small restaurant, a "diner" where they fed many for over 40 years. My grandparents were active in their community and church and seemed to know everyone in that small town. My Father worked at the Chrysler auto assembly plant and my mother did accounting for the Navy. Some of my fondest memories are of my summers in my grandparentsí swimming pool or boating and fishing with my Father, younger sister and brother.
My ideal childhood abruptly ended when my parents divorced in 1966 when I was eleven years old. At age thirteen I was still among the top students in the state of Maryland. In my middle school I was selected to lead the morning Pledge of Allegiance over the school intercom. I still held on to my faith in my country and family. At age fifteen I started having doubts and questions about everything. Like many at that time I started experimenting with drugs. At age seventeen I dropped out of high school and went to work. I was desperately looking for something. Around this time I became interested in eastern philosophy and religion. I started practicing yoga and meditation and stopped doing any drugs. I found peace in yoga and meditation and was still searching for truth.
In June 1973, after three days of prayer, meditation and fasting I received the inspiration to visit the closest yoga center and there I would find my teacher. The yoga center was 30 miles away from my home and I had no car. I packed a few things and started off on my bicycle. After 15 miles I stopped at a friendís house and spent the night. The next morning I tried to convince my friend to come with me, but he wouldnít come. I left my bike and hitchhiked the next 15 miles to Wilmington, Delaware. When I arrived at the yoga center I was surprised to find it was closed and nobody was there. After knocking on the door I sat on the porch and wondered what I would do now. At that moment a friendly fellow walked by and asked me what I was doing. I explained and he invited me upstairs to the second floor of the yoga center. Inside of the second floor apartment I was introduced to a few more friendly people who asked me if I would like to hear a lecture.
This was a lecture like I had never heard before. As this lecturer continued, many questions I had been struggling with for months and even years were being answered. I was so inspired I couldnít wait to hear more. After the first lecture my only question was, "Where did this information come from?" I stayed at that apartment and later found out it was called the Unification Center. The very next weekend I went to New York to attend a workshop at a large center on 71st Street where I listened to lectures with many others. The atmosphere and spirit at that workshop was like nothing I had every experienced in my life. I remember I was so inspired by the experience I couldnít sleep. The last day of the three-day workshop I will never forget. It was July 1st, 1973. We all hopped in a van and went to a place called Belvedere where I would meet the teacher I was looking for and his name was Sun Myung Moon. I couldnít believe what I was hearing from this man. Although he didnít speak much English, I understood him like no one I had ever heard. This man spoke to my heart and moved it like no other. He talked about God, our Heavenly Father, and how He was suffering. He talked about the suffering of Jesus and our responsibility. He talked about working to build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. He talked about why America was great and blessed.
I decided back then in July of 1973 that I would do whatever I could to help Rev. Moon and share his teachings with others. I worked in several campaigns and programs to share Rev Moonís revelation from God. Almost 26 years later Iím still inspired by Rev. Moonís teachings and striving to live up to the ideal they represent.
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