Life is a Revelation…be encouraged


My wife, Susie has a saying that I have always found interesting. I’m not exactly sure when she started using it, but I have liked it since the first time I heard it. This is it:

You can count the seeds in an apple, but can’t count the apples in a seed.

I’ve been thinking about this little quote since the first time I heard it and it reminds me of a story.

Most of you who read this blog are aware I have background that includes many unfavorable exposures to the law and those who are charged with enforcing it. It wasn’t that I thought police were pigs, as was the common verbiage back in my hippie days. I was simply breaking the law and I wasn’t interested in getting caught. This put the police and I on different sides of the same issue. Throughout the years I got to know a few of them, like the rest of society, some where honorable and had a good grasp of how to handle the bad guys, while others had no scruples and would have felt right at home in any German WWII concentration camp.  Not all of those who wear the blue are upright, moral, and fair, nor are they all uncaring, racist, and bigoted.

I have been arrested several times in various states, usually on outstanding warrants of one type or another. Those warrants, for the most part, originated in Illinois, so I tried to spend as little time there as possible. It had gotten to the point where local police knew me by first, middle and last name, the types of cars I drove, and the way I walked, so I tried to find other states to call home. When I was arrested in these other states they would run a criminal check on me and discover I was wanted, then offer me spartan accommodations in the nearest county jail, notify my home state that they were hosting me, and arrange for a  state police officer of Illinois to retrieve me. Since there is no posting bail while awaiting extradition, I would have a few days to cool my jets while waiting for a free ride back home.

I’m not sure how this happened but several times I was transported by the same officer. He was nearing retirement age and had been on the force over thirty years and was one of the good cops. The first time he picked me up we had a 3 hour ride back to the county where my warrant had been issued which gave us some time to talk. He spoke about his wife and kids and I described my life of drinking, drugging, and chasing woman without mentioning any names or particulars.

The next time he showed up to provide a ride I was surprised to see him, of course he knew who he was picking up, so all he did upon seeing me was smile, say how nice it was to see me again, and ask I turn around so the handcuffs and leg shackles could be put on.  We fell into talking much like we had the first time as he caught me up on what his two sons and daughter were doing and I updated him on the latest bars and women I had found. But this time the ride back was different.

As we neared the outer edge of the city where he had picked me up, he drove the cruiser to the side of the road. He got out walked to my side, opened the door, and asked me to step out and turn around. Without saying another word he removed the cuffs and shackles and told me to get back in. He returned to the driver’s seat and we proceeded on.

Now this was HUGE. Cops don’t do this. First of all, if anything goes wrong, say like I try to escape, it means at the very least he will face an inner-jurisdiction reprimand, suspension of a couple of weeks without pay, and it will go into his permanent record, at the worst, it means his thirty plus years on the force goes up in smoke, and maybe his retirement as well.

As he edged the patrol car back onto the highway he resumed his conversation as if nothing had happened. A few hours later he said he was going to need some gas and pulled into a station with a McDonald’s attached. He asked, Hey I bet your kind of tired of jail food, what would you like to eat?” I replied something about having some money in the manila envelope he was caring along with my watch and identification, but he just smiled and said, “Naw, I got this one.”

As we neared the county were I would be quickly bonding out, he again pulled to the side of the road, came to my side, opened the door, and said, “Sorry to have to do this to you, but they would skin me alive if I walked you in there without these.” Then he reattached the cuffs and the shackles, but before he eased me back into the car he asked, “Those aren’t too tight are they?”

The third and last time he retrieved me from an unpleasant living situation, he again stopped and removed my restraints, and as before, we stopped for gas and something to eat, but this time I asked if I could go use the restroom. He looked me in the eyes for a moment then said, “Sure, I’ll meet you back at the car.”

Why I am telling you this story?

Because these events happened over thirty years ago and that man was one of the finest human beings I ever met. He trusted some one who was not worthy of any trust. He believed in some one who was not worthy of any belief. But most of all he gave me hope in my self.

You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.

When you plant a seed you have no idea what will happen. How it will grow. What will be the effects. None of this is predictable.

There was nothing in me that inspired trust. I was wild. All I talked about was a life of debauchery. I wore it like a shield of honor.

But when I changed my life, the talks I had with that police officer rang in my head with a clarity that was undiminished by the years.

I write these words while sitting in my office with tears streaming down my face. I remember his face, the tone of his voice, the firm way he moved, his poise and pride. After thirty plus years his words still resonate. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He treated me with a dignity and respect I didn’t deserve…yet he did it.

Truth is we don’t know what good (apples) will come out of our actions (seeds). What smiles, kind words, and a helping hand will do. So when you look around your life at those who might seem a little less deserving than others…remember you just can’t tell…none of us can.

Be encouraged!

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46 thoughts on “Counting

  1. Pingback: Counting « LifeRevelation | Loopyloo's

  2. Very enjoyable post.


  3. OneHotMess on said:

    This hit my heart hard. I had moments similar to the ones you describe…people who planted a seed, bought me a meal, undid the handcuffs, talked to me, and most importantly believed in me and gave me one more chance. I am blessed enough to call one of them a friend these days, and soon, I hope, we will be playing on the same team, as he works to open doors for me as I head towards my mission. Thank you, Stephen. 😉

    • Isn’t it amazing you can remember exactly the impact their words and, maybe more importantly, their actions have had on your heart…thank you so much for taking the time to write, I always cherish hearing from you…and remember…keep working on the book…Susie and I are behind you 100% on this…much love and many blessings to you and yours from both of us…be encouraged!

      • OneHotMess on said:

        Stephen, life was slow going due to the holidays, but I am hoping that this week brings some semblance of normalcy and routine. Much love to you and Susie for your support, and for believing in me! Xoxo

      • We understand that whole holiday thingie…we were caught up in all the family woo-woo…so you have our deepest understanding and empathy…you will always have our support…be encouraged!

  4. Excellent post.

  5. Thank you for sharing this inspiring tale. It was easy to read and heart warming. I’m glad that wonderful man planted a seed that would help you grow into the man you have come to be. He would be proud of you I’m sure. Blessings to you!

  6. Thank you for this p0st. I want to be one who takes off the cuffs. Diane

    • …excellent thought…in fact as I sit here and thank about your words they impact me more with each passing moment…what a wonderful concept…I think I may have a post concerning it in the near future…be encouraged!

  7. A gripping life on said:

    I think he did know what he was doing. I think some people have a gift, a divine gift that allows them to see inside someone’s soul. Since most people are good down deep, that’s what they see. They also know that by treating you and communicating with you as if you are that person, at that moment, they’re giving you the hope you need to turn things around. All it takes is one person to see the good and things shift in a positive direction. He knew exactly what he was doing. That was his gift. He was like an angel — I don’t think it was a coincidence that your paths crossed on more than one occasion.
    I’ve been in the same position as that officer on many occasions, (locked in rooms with dangerous psych patients) that’s how I know. Stephen, you did the same thing when you worked with those behavior disorder kids. You saw who they were beyond their label and you loved them for that. It’s a gift to be able to see past all the external crap and look at a person’s soul. For some of us it’s who we are, it’s what we do. You’re no different than I am or that police officer Stephen. You do the same thing.
    I love this story almost as much as I love you!! What a life you’ve had- a beautiful, rich, full, challenging life. 🙂

    • Thanks hardly conveys how I feel toward the words you wrote…you are so gracious, kind, and thoughtful. I have had many years to ponder about his words and actions and I have come to the same conclusion as you. It was a divine intervention into my life…he fanned the small, little, itty-bitty, dormant ember of goodness that was lying deep inside covered with the trash I had thrown over it. I still fan that flame today…and every day I am thankful for his (His) kindness.

      Rantheguantlet had a beautiful quote in the comment she wrote to me about this post. She said, “I want to be the one who takes off the cuffs.” That quote really rocked my boat for it encapsulates exactly what I want to do in life. I want to to be the one who takes off the cuffs..the yuck, the trash, the shame, the struggles, the fear, the worry, the concern, the disgrace, the torment, the hurry, the burden, the heartache, the sorrow, and any/everything else which hinders…and help them press forward.

      Lisa, you are wonderful and I deeply appreciate the time and effort you put into reading and commenting on my posts. I don’t know how to let you know the gratitude I feel in my heart.

      Much love and many blessings to you.

      Be encouraged!


  8. What an emotional memory this must be for you. Little acts of kindness are really the biggest things that people can do. Trust can change a person’s life. It’s not a bad thing that you lived your life the way you did. You made mistakes and you learned from them. You had to go through those challenges to make you the person you are today.
    It’s great that you’re able to share your story. I feel honored to have heard it!

    • Thank you Lily. I understand why you said, “It’s not a bad thing that you lived your life the way you did.”…but I didn’t live that life in a vacuum…there were others that I brought in…some made it out…and some died in that life…the pain I caused many was/is terrible…there are those who while having recovered still bare the scars deeply in their souls because of my actions. It is true the events of those times did help create the man I am today…and I have compassion for others I would never have had…but still to hurt, damage, and lead others to death is NEVER a good thing…no matter what the outcome.

      Thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort to write…I am grateful.

      Be encouraged!

  9. Your “own” posts are Keats worth waiting for, Steve. Wonderful man indeed, and a powerful seed he planted in you. However long it took to blossom, you have repaid his trust many times over. We can all take a lesson from this, including the kind of impact we can have on people by showing a kindness without even knowing it. Thank you for this post.

    • As I wrote this Jane, I thought of you…you once said that reblogs were nice, but my original posts were really what you wanted to read. So as I write I think. “I’ve got to make this good…from the heart…honest…truthful…I don’t want Jane to be disappointed.”

      It works for me…be encouraged!

      • As I was trying to say above, with little help from the autocorrect on my iPod Touch (“Keats” should be “always”!), they are always worth waiting for. I’m glad to think that I can help motivate the motivator! Be encouraged yourself!

      • You always encourage me Jane…and I appreciate it…mucho thanks…be encouraged!

  10. i love the way you write, it is so honest and open. When you have been at the bottom you can only look up and when you finally reach the top the sky is just so blue you don’t ever want to leave it behind. Yes it takes just one person to either make us feel like a human being or not. We may not remember the words said but we will always remember how they made us feel.

  11. There’s a lot of lessons to be taken from this post, very beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Wow, this is powerful! Reminds me of the story of Les Miserables.

  13. orepuk on said:

    Une histoire intéressante, en Français les pépins veulent également dire des ennuis, donc les ennuis c’est pour ta pomme.

  14. This was inspiring, thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life. 🙂

  15. I LOVED this…wonderful piece…Blessings Darrell

  16. Karen Wan on said:

    Beautiful post. Just what I needed to read today.Thank you for being so open and honest with sharing your story. It always helps me to read them!

  17. Omg so inspirational..Thank you so much. i didn’t understand, when i start reading the post, what the quote means.Your wife is definily a wise woman. When i was reading about that man who believed in you i felt like i was reading something..i just don;t know how to call it really, it just impressed me. That was a real men.. Your lifestory deserve to be shared. Glad u write this..and hopefully this post will be an exemple ..for everyone! Have a nice day

    • My wife is wisdom incarnate…she is always dropping little bombs like that which cause me to completely alter my thinking…she is wonderful…I am grateful this post conveyed something to your spirit…I always write praying the words will strike a place in the hearts of those who read them…not for my glory…far from it…but to change the world…to make it place where Columbine, Aurora, and Newtown are just distant memories that will never repeat themselves…be encouraged!

  18. Reblogged this on Robby Robin's Journey and commented:
    I don’t reblog someone else’s blog post very often. It seems kind of like a cop-out. However, I think this post by Stephen Edwards, entitled “Counting”, is worth sharing. Steve occasionally provides life stories of his own (I think!) to motivate readers to believe in themselves; his stories are far more tantalizing than those from my “more or less obey the rules” middle-class existence and always make me sit up and take notice. There is no doubt that at times in his life, according to his blog, he has done things from which he was well advised to cease and desist, and he has done so. The first blog post I ever read of his was about running across America. I spent a fair amount of time trying to decide if it was fact or fiction; it was fact. When he writes his autobiography, it will be a captivating read. I encourage you to read this most recent story from Steve, who is now a happily married grandfather who consults, writes, and runs workshops to help people believe in themselves.
    Once you’ve read it, I’d be interested to know if you identified more with the wild kid or with the cop. For those of us who have never had a wild side to recover from, I think the message is at least as powerful, if not more so: going the extra mile – or simply showing humanity and trust to others – doesn’t cost anything and may make a profound difference to the recipient. It also makes you feel better about yourself. Worth remembering. Thanks, Steve.
    BTW, he has a follow-up post called Counting and then some.

  19. Jane sent me your way. I appreciate the honesty of your post. Beautiful Story. You are not really telling us about yourself, but about a policeman that touched you. Divine intervention to have seen him more than once I imagine orchestrated just for you. Alesia

    • It has surprised me how folks have interpreted this post…however I have enjoyed watching its affect on those who have taken the time to comment…my heart felt prayer is that we will help take the cuffs off ourselves and others…thanks again for following…be encouraged!

  20. Wow. Very powerful. Thank you for sharing your story and your perspective. I, too, have found myself in handcuffs – learned the hard way you cannot trust someone simply because they are ” a man in blue”, even if you have done nothing wrong. How encouraging to hear there are still honest and kind souls in the midst of what I have come to think of as thick blue smog 🙂
    You are an encouragement to me!

    • Oh yes…I still have the scars from a police officer offering me a face-lift via the hood of my car…I think my kind of officer was in reality one a million…glad to see you are still standing…be encouraged!

  21. freethewronged on said:

    Reblogged this on Upside Down.

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