Giving sounds good. We all do it to a degree. But going beyond lip service requires reaching a breaking point that allows one to reap life's true rewards, according Somers High School Health Teacher, Kathy Kelton. She recently self-published a novel called, A Silent Cry From the Wilderness in which she describes the event that changed the course of her life.
"It's not until you surrender one hundred percent of your will and just turn it over," says Ms. Kelton. "You say, 'OK let me do this,' and that's when it's like hitting the sweet spot on a tennis racquet."
The account begins with her long affiliation with North Salem's Greyhound Rescue and Rehab and two lost greyhounds from the area. Among the constant stream of emails from e-group members, an S.O.S. arrived on July 7 2007 from Christine Johnson, CEO of the rescue operation. They needed people to scout the woods in search of the two pets, she says.
Despite owning two greyhounds and easily empathizing with the owner's pain, she deferred on account of what she described as "a week from hell." Passing on the posse, she admits with a click of the mouse that she wasn't helping anybody. "I was being selfish," she says.
Instead, she escaped north in hopes that some hang time on her boat would alleviate both the drama of her week and the dogs' plight. "It was 95 degrees," she says, "and all I could think about was those greyhounds."
Returning home to air conditioning, her own loving greyhounds and more emails, she was moved but guilt didn't trump the idea of traipsing around the woods. So this time she went to church to take solace in at least making a spiritual effort. "I said, 'I'll pray for the dogs," says the 25 year veteran of the Somers School District.
As it was, her faith wasn't put to the test but it did issue the exam. "There is chaos in the world," she sang the hymn, "and who shall I send, it is I."
Despite having a meltdown of sorts in church, she wasn't there yet. Going to work the next day and taking part in the idle chatter that normally occurs on Monday mornings, inched her closer.
That night she learned one of the dogs was found and expressed guilt to the group for not getting involved. On Tuesday afternoon, she heard herself and finally put up. "I said that's it and went hiking in the North Salem woods," she says.
Withering and sweat soaked in the oppressive heat and having not eaten since breakfast, six hours of searching was her limit. "I had given up," she says.
Ending up at the bottom of a huge hill, she was drawn to an old stone wall that ran up the incline and was cool to the touch. "It was almost like the stones were calling out to me," she says.
So she climbed, but at the top, she bowed her head in capitulation. "Then I see these two glistening objects that looked like black marbles," she says. "It was Sunny."
In embracing the dog, she seemed to be sharing a language of thanks with the animal. In turn, she says, "I've felt an electric surge of happiness, joy and peace."
Something she'll tell you can only be felt when you give of yourself. "That's the moral of the story," she says.
It turns out these are more than words. She gave up a her position at the Somers Intermediate School that she had long grown comfortable in. "It was a cushy job for me," she says, so when administration was in search of a health teacher at the high school, she already knew how the story ended.
Despite the in-depth demands the age group represents, she compared the choice to helping turn Sonny's journey to a happy ending. "They need guidance like Sunny needed someone to find him," she says.
Citing all the muck and mire that teenagers need to navigate, she continues to answered the call. "It really challenges me but it's all worth it," she concludes.
A Silent Cry From the Wilderness is available on Amazon and published by 5 Fold Media