Shane Crash: Looking for Love


Shane Crash lies before me in a hos­pi­tal bed, his nat­u­ral­ly lithe frame slight­ly bloat­ed from the steroid injec­tions he has been tak­ing for recent­ly diag­nosed Crohn’s dis­ease.  Despite the intense pain of the inflam­ma­tion and the chem­i­cal stu­por of mor­phine, Shane is in good spir­its.  Just this morn­ing, I awoke to find his most recent Face­book sta­tus: “It just struck me that I have a read­er­ship and I get to do what I love for a liv­ing. On top of that, I expe­ri­ence a com­mu­ni­ty of raga­muf­fin Jesus fol­low­ers teach­ing sim­plic­i­ty and ene­my-love every day. Life is good.”  Such a pos­i­tive ener­gy typ­i­fies Shane and what I love about him.  In the dark of life’s despair, Shane Crash has dis­cov­ered a dia­mond, a per­fect love that he is com­pelled to share with oth­ers.

His out­look in life was not always so pos­i­tive.  When he was twen­ty years old, Shane thought he had hit the jack­pot with a lucra­tive sales posi­tion in a grow­ing com­pa­ny. Yet despite his finan­cial suc­cess, Shane felt like there was some­thing miss­ing in his pic­ture-per­fect life.  He lost faith in a church sys­tem that claimed to have all of the answers, but felt hol­low.  He was jad­ed by a career that pro­vid­ed lux­u­ry, but not hap­pi­ness.  Fam­ished by a sys­tem that didn’t fill the empti­ness with­in, Shane sold all of his world­ly pos­ses­sions, grabbed his back­pack and hit the road.  His trav­els over the next two years took him through every major city in the Unit­ed States and to oth­er parts of the globe.  When he left, he didn’t know exact­ly what he was look­ing for, but in ret­ro­spect he sees his leav­ing as a turn­ing point that would even­tu­al­ly lead to an encounter with the love of Christ.  About this he writes, “I adamant­ly believe that the moment I made the deci­sion to search for some­thing else, I had unin­ten­tion­al­ly dis­cov­ered an alter­na­tive to the aim­less numb­ness of thought­less self-preser­va­tion” (“The Writ­ing Writer”).  With a good job and my own house full of shiny things, I admire the brav­ery that it takes to leave it all behind in the search for some­thing bet­ter.

In the hos­pi­tal room, I notice Jack Kerouac’s On the Road amid a stack of dog-eared paper­backs that Shane has been read­ing to pass the time dur­ing his stay.  When I ask him for his opin­ion of the nov­el, Shane responds that he doesn’t care for the nihilism. The strug­gle for the young to seek out iden­ti­ty is not new, and the roman­ti­cism of the road is an age-old sto­ry. Shane’s own wan­der­lust maps a path through the worst roads of Amer­i­ca, but it is not a vain search with­out pur­pose; on a sub­con­scious lev­el, he was led by the idea that there was some­thing bet­ter out there to be found. About this he writes:

When­ev­er my friends asked what the hell I was doing so late at night or why I was con­stant­ly throw­ing my hands in the air and pac­ing in cir­cles, my only reply was “look­ing you fools”. Over and over I scoured the dark­est, most des­per­ate parts of Kansas City, of Brook­lyn and Los Ange­les. I observed ran­dom acts of vio­lence, I watched hook­ers get into cars with strangers, and I lis­tened to grown men sob alone in the alleys of St. Louis. My eyes saw things that can nev­er be unseen. My spir­it began to break for the peo­ple around me each night, for the first time I for­got about myself” (“The Return”).

It was only in set­ting aside him­self for the sake of oth­ers that he was able to answer his dis­il­lu­sion­ment, still his anger, and reverse his own self-destruc­tion.  Shane writes, “The self-sac­ri­fi­cial love that Christ exem­pli­fied is what led me to con­clude that he was the truth that my soul had been search­ing for” (“Let Love Lead You by the Hand”). Among the home­less, the des­ti­tute, and the oppressed, Shane found a Christ who was a cham­pi­on for the least of soci­ety and had nowhere to lay his head.  It is on this jour­ney that Shane made the dis­cov­ery that “love changes the human soul in a way that hatred, anger, and manip­u­la­tion could nev­er mir­ror” (“Let Love Lead You by the Hand”).

Now Shane has cho­sen to con­vey this found Truth to oth­ers through writ­ing.  His trav­els have been doc­u­ment­ed in his self-pub­lished work, Trav­el Logs: Back­pack Jour­nals. He has recent­ly signed with Civ­i­tas Press for For­est Life, a nov­el he describes as being about “fear, faith, hope, and despair.”  In writ­ing both unflinch­ing and raw, he seeks to offer hope to oth­er searchers who are look­ing for an alter­na­tive to the empti­ness of sec­u­lar­ism and vapid reli­gion. When you talk to him or read his works, you see an infal­li­ble love that comes shin­ing through the cyn­i­cism and despair.

To dis­till his mes­sage: it is that there is a cre­ator who loves you uncon­di­tion­al­ly and that you can find him in the dark­est alleys and back roads of soci­ety, if you’d only take the risk of look­ing.

¶ Despatched on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 at 1:14 pm and sorted in Essays. ¶ { ReTweet }

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