THE JOURNEY OF A MAN AND THREE WOMEN, FINDING FREEDOM IN THE TRINITY. Backslide "I always held Pastors to such high standards. To me they were the closest thing to GOD. I have actually left churches for mistakes that Pastors had made. How hypercritical of me. After reading the book Backslide my thoughts have changed. The first think I realized is that Pastors are human. They have the same trials and tribulations if not more than the congregation they minister o. I appreciate the authors honesty and willingness to share life experiences to educate others. Backslide is a definite read." - Tanisha Bagley, author of "The Price of Love" "Culturally literate, morally sophisticated, socially compassionate and poitically conscious, Reverend Carl Kenney has long proven himself to be a man of the people and of the spirit. Reverend Kenney is a constant reminder that there are no boundaries to the spiritual worlds we are all destined to inhabit." - Mark Anthony Neal, author of "New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity" "This book is a truly emotional piece of fiction. It is a story comes from some very real places. Shinning a bright light on some very dark corners, A raw piece of art imitating life." - YahZarah ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Affectionately known as "Kenney the voice of many", Carl grew up in Columbia, Missouri. He received his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He furthered his education at Duke University and attached a Master of Divinity. He was named a Fellow in Pastoral Leadership Development at the Princeton Theological Seminary on May 14, 2005. He is a freelance writer with his commentary appearing in the "News & Observer", "The Independent Weekly", "The Durham Heral-Sun", "Tribes Magazine", "Spectacular Magazine", "The Triangle Tribune" and "The Zion Herald." Carl is the author of the novel "Preacha' Man." He resides in Durham, North Carolina where is Pastor of Compassion Ministries of Durham, an American Baptist Church founded under his leadership in 2002. (Cover design and illustration by Pandora Frazier).
“Dang, I ain’t never seen anything like this before,” Chris sat in amazement at the stunning array of red sandstone formations that make Sedona, AZ, America’s most beautiful city. The red rock appeared to glow in dazzling orange and red as the sun set. Simon and Chris viewed the splendor of the rocks while sitting on the deck at the Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa. “That’s why I wanted to bring you here,” Simon smiled as he watched the glow on his son’s face. “They have names for the formations. The one over there they call Snoopy because he looks like Snoopy lying on top of his doghouse. That one there is called Lucy. That one is Coffee Pot Rock. We’ll get out later in the week so you can see Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and Rabbit Ears.” “Why you know so much about this place, pops,” “This is where I came after your moms left me. My former therapist told me there was a magnetic force in these formations. Some believe it’s because of the Native American burial ground nearby. I needed a place to heal my spirit, so I came here.” “So, why did you bring me here?” “I wanted to share with you a place that helped me get through it all. Sometimes you need to get away from things and find a place to reconnect with your spirit. I wanted to give you something I wished I had gotten long ago.” “What did you get, pops?” “Look at that sunset, son. God made that for us. Look at those formations. It’s all a reminder that there is so much more to life than what we see in the city. We can get so lost in doing for the sake of building more so we can get more that we forget the simple things in life. The best things in life are found in God’s creation.” “I get that, pops.” “Creation has a way of reminding you of why you are you. When I came here I was so hurt because I felt like I let you and Carmen down. I was scared because at the same time your moms left me, I was leaving Shady Grove. That was a lot to carry at one time. It felt like the world was spinning out of control and I couldn’t stop it. I needed a place to be still. A place to listen to God and find my inner self.” “It seems like you knew what I needed,” Chris began to cry again. His life seemed chaotic. Instead of feeling great about going off to college, he felt guilt for impregnating Cheryl. “We can thank God for that, Chris. But there is something in these rocks that is speaking to you,” “What’s that, pops? That I fucked up my life?” “No, that you are man enough to work through whatever life brings. Having a baby doesn’t end things for you, Chris. It only shifts things a bit. In the end your life will be more rich because of it all. Whatever Cheryl decides to do, you will be able to work through it, and you will look back on this day and thank God for sitting here to reflect on all it means.” “I wish it were that easy.” “Didn’t say it was easy. I said you have what it takes inside to work through it all. Would you like to know what I was thinking when I sat in this same chair?” “Sure, pops.” “I thought of the day you were born. I remembered how scared I was when your moms told me she was pregnant. I was scared because I had plans that didn’t include having a baby. I didn’t want to get married, but I did because I wanted to be there for my son. I sat here and wondered if I did the right thing. God spoke to me then.” “What did God say, pops?” “That love was there for me in whatever decision I made. If I hadn’t gotten married love would have been there for me. Then I questioned how love was present given the loss of the marriage. I sat here and cried my eyes out because I would not be there for you. Already I was hurting because I wanted my son and daughter near me, and they were being taken away. A part of me was lost and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.” “I know, pops.” “I knew that I wouldn’t have changed anything to be close to my children. I knew it wasn’t a mistake to marry your mother because it gave me the chance to be the father I have been. I knew that I have made my share of mistakes over the years, but loving you was not one of them.” “You saying I should marry Cheryl.” “No, son. You’re not ready to get married. What you are ready for is being a good father. If Cheryl decides to keep this baby you have everything inside of you to be the pops you need to be. There’s a secret to parenting that folks don’t tell you. God gives you what you need when you need it. It’s all inside of you.” “I don’t know what to do, pops.” “Be you, son. That’s all you need to do. Be you and do what you’ve done to get you to this place. God will carry you through. I have a promise for you.” “What, pops?” “I’ll be there for you. I will help you through it all. You don’t have to carry this on your own. Have you told your moms?” “Nope.” “Who have you told?” “Carmen.” “What did she tell you?” “She told me to call pops because he would know what to say to help me through it all,” Simon began crying now. He tried the best he could to hold back the tears, but his children, both of them, came to him in this time of need. “Don’t you go crying too, pops.” They both laughed. “Those are tears of joy, son.” “Ain’t no joy in this.” “Yes there is. A bunch of joy. I’m so proud of both of you.” “Even though I fucked up?” “Stop saying that, son. You didn’t fuck up anything. Having a baby is a blessing from God, not a curse. I’m proud to be your father. I’m proud to be Carmen’s father. I’m proud at the bond the two of you have. And, I’m so thankful that we are sitting here having this talk. And I’m crying for one more reason.” What’s that, pops?” “That you didn’t tell that asshole Maurice before you told me,” laughter blended with tears as the sun concluded its setting over the red rocks of Sedona. “I have something to give you.” “What you got?” Simon reached under his chair where a box had been placed. In the box was a handmaid journal. The soft Italian calfskin cover closed with leather ties. The faint-lined buttery cream pages made it clear that this wasn’t a normal journal purchased at a local bookstore. “I had a friend of mine make this for you. I told him this was your first journal and I wanted it to be special. That my son was a man of class and needed to begin his journaling process in a classy journal.” “Dang!” “We have six more days here. This is what I want you to do. I want you to get up every morning with the rise of the sun to write in this journal. Write whatever is on your mind. I want you to come back just before the sun sets to do the same thing. You don’t have to share what you write with anyone. It’s between you and God. I’m going to sit over there and do the same thing.” “I can dig that. Thanks, pops. “ The next six days was one adventure after another. They went to the Sedona Art Center where Simon purchased a painting for Chris. Chris fell in love with “Red Rock Crossing Autumn Color” painted by local artist Janet Noll Naumen. Chris was shocked when it was in his room when he returned. Simon also purchased an ocean jasper and sterling cabochon bracelet created by local artist Nancy Biher. It was Carmen’s gift. Chris spent two days in a spiritual retreat at SpiritQuest. They went horseback riding, took a balloon tour and rode the Sedona Trolley highlighting the Chapel of Holy Cross and The Sedona Seven Canyons. They enjoyed live jazz at the Rouge Hotel, got massages and ate like kings. The feature of everyday was the same – sunrise and sunset on the patio of the Rouge. There, as the sun rose in the morning and set in the evening, they both rested in quiet reflection as words made way to pages. Six days of spiritual healing was what both Simon and Chris needed. Father was there for his son in a time of need. Without knowing it, son was there for father to help quiet the old ghost ready to capture the last piece of joy remaining. Pops needed his son’s love, and son needed his Pops’s guidance. In six days they became more than father and son, they became best friends. Chris
Affectionately known as “Kenney the voice of many,” Carl W. Kenney II grew up in Columbia, Missouri. He received his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri–Columbia and a master of divinity from Duke University. A freelance writer with commentary appearing in several news publications, Carl wrote the novel Preacha' Man. He resides in Durham, North Carolina, where he is Pastor of Compassion Ministries of Durham, an American Baptist Church founded under his leadership in 2002. (Cover design and illustration by Pandora Frazier).