Category Archives: Uncategorized

We’re back…sort of…

I was hacked by a former “friend” who contributed to my technical site, It took awhile to figure out how to properly restore things, but we’re sorta back again. I have several editorials about our favourite orange-haired guy that I need to post. But for now, I think you for your patience.


Why did Jesus have to die?

By Wayno Guerrini 1/30/2019

I. In the beginning –

A. Man was created == very good (Gen 1:31)

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Gen 2:16-17

Not just a physical death…..but a spiritual death.

II. So what is Sin?

A. Wilful disobedience. (Unbelief of what God has said.)

B. Always against a person. We forget – God is a person.

C. Multiplies exponentially.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. Romans 5:12-14 ESV)

D. Stores up the wrath and anger of God.

Temptation – Lust, Sin, Death (the LSD of the Bible)

Ezek 18:20 – The soul that sins, shall surely die.

Romans 3:23 All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (come back to verses 24 & 25 – they are key to this study)

Romans 6:23 – Sin pays a wage…The wages of sin is death….but….

Romans 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (ESV)\

Love: God is love (1 John 4:8)  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (ESV)

God is righteous and judges: Righteous are You, O Lord, And upright are Your judgments. (Psalm 119:137)

God is Holy: For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, (Isa 57:15)


Our Father who is in Heaven. Holy is your name….Matt 6:9

God is truth: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, You would have known my Father also. From now on you know him and have seen him” (John 14:6-7)

God is wrath: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18)

God has many attributes. But He never stops being one to favour the other. God is always righteous, He is always truthful. He is always holy. He judges rightly. But at the same time, God is filled with wrath, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.

So there we have it. Our sin is against the personhood of God. Through our disobedience, we are storing up God’s wrath. We are at a place in our society, where we fear man, much more than, we fear the Almighty. What is the end? Again, Ezekiel reminds us: Ezek 18:20 – The soul that sins, shall surely die.

Moral Law – the 10 commandments a sign post of what God is like. The law was a school-master – teaching us about God’s law. Remember that we are created in the image of God. The image of God, His righteousness, his holiness are revealed to us in the law. Has we ever sinned? Broken God’s moral law? Of course….All have sinned. Sin must be judged. We know that the penalty of sin, is death. The law was a

Is there then no hope for mankind? We see the first glimmer of hope in Gen 3:15

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

This is called the proto-evangel. The first reference pointing the way to Christ.

III. At this point, I hope you are asking yourself, why did Jesus have to die?

The ceremonial law, the statutes contained in Exodus and Leviticus, was a foreshadowing. Sins were covered – but never atoned (paid). So the sinner had to come again and again.

8 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Covered. But not paid. How could sinful man ever be reconciled to the holiness of God? We can’t do it. Never. Ever.

Again, Romans reminds us: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18)

As Charlie Brown would say: “We’re doomed!” And doomed we are.

So how do you propitiate? Satisfy. Appease. Reconcile?

IV. Propitiation – the Necessity of Christ.

God is full of wrath against the sins of mankind.

God demands justice. He demands death. How can we be saved from God’s wrath.

Yes – I will do good works. I will be a good upstanding citizen. Yes that will do it. God will surely let me into Heaven because of my righteous deeds. Ta da!

Will that work? Does that work?

V. The Problem

A. How can God remain just, yet justify the ungodly?

B. The answer to that delicious, delectable, dilemma, is why Jesus had to die?

To delight the Father. The Holy Spirit testifies to the glory of Christ, and Christ testifies to the will of the Father.

C. Let’s define some terminology:

1. Redemption (a commercial or commerce term). It means to buy one out of the slave market. The price is so great, that they could never, ever be sold into slavery again.

Redemption then, is Christ’s atoning work, on the cross towards mankind. He paid the ultimate price. The price was so high, it demanded the death of Christ. I will define atonement in a minute.

Propitiation. That is a term we don’t hear much today. In a very simplistic manner, it means satisfaction. God was satisfied with the death of his Son upon the cross, for your sins, and my sins.

Very simplistic: Redemption (towards man) (|


Reconciliation (an accounting term. restoration on friendly terms)



Propitiation (satisfaction Towards God). Jesus died to propitiate (satisfy) a Holy, righteous, Just God.

The justice of God demanded a sentence. The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

Christ enrobed himself with the wrath of God for us. All the requirements of the law are satisfied. We have atonement: that is the repairing of of a damaged relationship.

Jesus’ death satisfied a holy, righteous and just God. Christ died to propitiate (satisfy) God’s righteous, and justified wrath. As the commercial goes: “But wait! There’s more!

Propitiation appeased the wrath of the offended person and brought about reconciliation (a change in relationship).

Because of Christ, my sentence of death, is expiated! I’ll bet you have never heard that term before.

It means we are not only held liable to pay for your sins, (not culpable) but the record is expunged (erased, obliterated (smashed to smithereens)), the account has been paid in full, and the records have been destroyed.

The foreshadowing can be seen in the old Testament’s description of the passover.

Atonement: Exodus 12:13 reminds us:

…when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you,…

Today, I would ask, when God looks at you, does he see the blood of Christ, that brings reconciliation, atonement, expiation, or are you still mired in doubt and guilt with the weight of sin crush down on you? Have you trusted in God’s remedy for sin, or are you relying on your “Good Works to get you into Heaven?”

When God asks, “What have you done with my son, Jesus?” What will be your reply? The answer has unfathomable eternal consequences. Just and Justifier:

It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:26 ESV

Who is directing your eternal path? God or you?

Why did Jesus have to die?

W. Guerrini

February 13, 2019

1. What happens on February 14?

2. What is sin?

1. 2. 3.

Sin multiplies? Sin is always directed towards?

3. List some of the attributes of God?

4. Redemption: (towards man)






Propitiation: (Towards God)

5. The justice of God demanded a sentence. What was the sentence? (Rom 6:23)

6. Propitiation – The Necessity of Christ’s

A. God is full of wrath against the sins of mankind. God demands justice. He demanded death. How can we be saved from God’s wrath?

B. The Problem?

1). How can God remain just, yet justify the ungodly?

2). The answer is a delicious. Delectable. Dilemma. The answer is why Jesus

had to die.

7. What is your definition of the following:

Redemption (commercial term):





8. What propitiates? Blood or death?

Remembering Uncle Walter


Remembering Walter Cronkite

“The Father of Television News”

He became a routine part of millions of American’s daily lives. He was invited into our home’s each evening, to give us a chronicle of the day’s events. He was in fact: “the most trusted man in America.”

Steeped rich in the history of the 20th Century, you’d find him in such places as Presidential Elections, a Presidential Resignation, Moon Shots, and the jungles of Vietnam. As the bloody war unfolded each evening in our living room, he became a spokesman for the common man, and the ordinary citizen.

Most of us will remember that fateful day: November 22, 1963, when he told us: “From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official: (reading AP flash) “President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.” (glancing up at clock) 2o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.”

The world stood still. The image of an unflappable man at the brink of tears, is firmly etched in the memories of those who shared this tragic event. He would stay on the air for 4 days, as he and the rest of America mourned.

During his tenure as anchorman for CBS News, he could not hide his enthusiasm for the Space Programme. You could see a visible “sigh of relief” on his face, when man first landed on the Moon, nearly 40 years ago this very day. He was a significant part of America’s sojourn to Space and the Moon.

His enthusiasm would ignite my interest in the “Space Race.” I’ve been an avid follower since the early “Mercury” missions of the 1960’s.

In his retirement, he received the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” (the highest Civilian award) from former President, Jimmy Carter.

At the age of 65 then mandatory retirement, he announced solemnly on a Friday evening March 6, 1981:

”This is my last broadcast as the anchorman of The CBS Evening News; for me, it’s a moment for which I long have planned, but which, nevertheless, comes with some sadness. For almost two decades, after all, we’ve been meeting like this in the evenings, and I’ll miss that. But those who have made anything of this departure, I’m afraid have made too much. This is but a transition, a passing of the baton. A great broadcaster and gentleman, Doug Edwards, preceded me in this job, and another, Dan Rather, will follow…Old anchormen, you see, don’t fade away; they just keep coming back for more. And that’s the way it is: Friday, March 6, 1981.”

So long Walter Leland Cronkite.

Thank you for giving us a rich heritage and a playing a dynamic part of our lives and memories. Rest in Peace, “Uncle Walt.”

Original Copy by,
Wayno Guerrini
July 17, 2009

Note: As some of you know, I’ve written several “obit” pieces over the years. It started in 2000, when “old friend” Rod Page died suddenly. I was the only person who had interviewed Rod, and had important biographical information, on his life. As I sat down at my computer and reviewed my notes, I was overwhelmed with a flood of memories. I had the task of distilling Rod’s life, in a few paragraphs and in a few hours, for the press.

As time marched on, I would write more pieces. (see “Sojourn’s End” — a tribute to Charles Kuralt — elsewhere in NOTES.) I do this not to be morbid; rather as a tribute to the great men and women who have touched my soul.

And that’s the way it is….

Restore Such an One — The Ministry of Reconciliation


Restore Such an One
Wayno Guerrini

If you have been a Christian for awhile, you learn that tucked into every corner of the Gospel is Reconciliation. I like this definition from “Reconciliation involves a change in the relationship between God and man or man and man.”

The heart of the Gospel is the reconciliation of man with God. If reconciliation is the heart of the Gospel, the reconciliation of man to man is also paramount.

This week, I have been endlessly barraged with gossip from neighbours. Talking about: “Oh I just found out that Bill, whom I thought was a Christian, was caught up in this heinous sin.” Sin is heinous. So is gossip.

We are going to look at the ministry of reconciliation between man and man.

First lets address the issue of gossip for a moment. Words mean things. Proverbs 11:13 reminds us:

He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

2 Timothy 2:16 (Pastor Dan will get there in a few weeks) says:

But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, (2 Tim 2:16 NASB)

Further, James tell us:

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. (James 3:8 NASB)

Got it? The first step in the reconciliation of man to man involves, shutting your mouth.

Our direction from God is simple.

Even if a man should be detected in some sin, my brothers, the spiritual ones among you should quietly set him back on the right path, not with any feeling of superiority but being yourselves on guard against temptation. (Gal 6:1 JB Phillips)

Gossip does nothing towards restoration, and reconciliation. It can’t. It’s powerless.

The seconds step: Don’t believe all you hear. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

Jesus reminds us:

“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” (Matt 15:18 NASB)

Be very careful what you say, or how you react. If someone has a juicy tidbit about someone, excuse yourself, and walk away. It’s that simple. Refuse to listen to gossip. Yes it’s hard. But someone’s reputation is at stake.

I will talk about the steps of reconciliation in a few moments.

Reconciliation – changing the relational dynamic, either between God and man, or man and man, involves forgiveness. We want to believe that tasty tidbit of tantalizing tales…but often we fail to see the need to forgive.

Again Jesus reminds us:

‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’ (Matt 6:12 NASB)

Most likely you have heard this before. It’s taken from the Disciples’ Prayer in Matthew.

Forgive our debts….what debt? Our sin debt:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23 KJV)

If we expect God to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9-10), we MUST learn to forgive others. Tell me, what sin did Jesus NOT pay in full on Cavalry’s Cross? Past. Present. Future.

Jesus reminds us in Mark 12:

29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NASB)

The fulfillment of the Law….love.

Finally. The prescription for reconciliation:

“15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matt 18:15-17)

The steps then are:

1. Go to that individual and say to him her PRIVATELY – “so and so said this about you, is this true?”

Yeah. Nobody wants to do this step. When I heard the juicy tidbits from my neighbours, I immediately went to him and asked: “Is this true?” It is hard, but this is the first step towards restoration. How many of us choose to believe half truths, without ever going privately to the individual first? Oh? Did you remember that we are NOT to repeat anything outside of this conversation? Privately. Not publicly.

2. If the private conversation does not work, we proceed to step 2. We confirm things in the presence of other witnesses.

3. Step 3…if that does not work – tell it to the church.

4. Treat him as a tax collector and a gentile. In other words shun this person.

But look at the steps closely. We want to go to step 4 and shun this person, rather than going first privately to the individual.

If we claim the name of Christ as our Saviour…we MUST also be involved in the ministry of reconciliation. Our priority is always: “How do I let God use me to change the relationship of this person to God, or how do I change my relationship to someone else? Relationships are at times difficult.

As I went to this person in absolute humility, I said: “Is this rumour about you that is going around true? I began to weep. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. Because God had been kicked in the gut. He said: “Some of it is true, some of it is fabricated.” (Made up). Again the truth always seems to lie somewhere in the middle. I choose to forgive this person. I told him:

“Brother, I want you to know that I’m committed to you. You’ll never knowingly suffer at my hands. I”ll never say or do anything, knowingly, to hurt your. I’ll always in every circumstance seek to help you and support you. If you’re down and I can lift you up, I’ll do that. Anything I have that your need, I’ll share with you, and if need be, I’ll give it to you. No matter what I find out about you and no matter what happens in the future, either good or bad, my commitment to your will never change. And there’s nothing your can do about it. You don’t have to respond. I love you, and that’s what that means.”

Jerry S. Cook Love, Acceptance, & Forgiveness, (Ventura CA: Regal Books, 1979) p. 13

Immigration Reform: Arizona May Have The Solution

White House

White House

White House from

Between 1900 and 1910, many people immigrated to the United States. They were scared. They were frightened. They were young. BUT, all of them were processed as legal immigrants. This nation is thankful for the sacrifice these immigrants made.

Since then, huddled masses are teaming to this shore. The lessons proffered from 9/11: still unlearned. The nation’s borders are no more secure today, then the were a decade ago. Drug cartel and gang violence spill over from Mexico to the U.S. A rancher in Cochise County (in the South-east corner of Arizona) was shot and killed. The trail led back to the border.

Something needs to be done! But the impotent Federal Government, steadfastly refuses to lift a finger, to help protect and preserve its citizens. Enough! The citizenry grows impatient, for they know their patience, will never be rewarded.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. (10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution)

Since the Federal Government refuses to protect its citizens, The Arizona Legislature (both Houses), and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R), have created and enacted into law SB 1070, a “verbatim copy of the Federal Statutes” in this area. Has Congress ever enacted legislation deemed, unconstitutional? Of course. The 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs Board of Education struck down the concept of separate but equal.

If SB 1070 is deemed unconstitutional, then the Federal Statutes which created it, are also unconstitutional. This is a decision only SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) can make.

You are welcome to come to the United States with open arms. But do so, like many others have: legally. Minorities understand what discrimination feels like, because our country was built on the backs of poor immigrants that came to this country and worked to build railroad tracks, sky scrapers and the country we now enjoy. But when the welcome arms of our government opened the doors to all that wanted to enter our country, it was a country filled with barren fields and opportunities for those that wanted to come, and build a country with the sweat of their brows and sworn loyalty to the laws of a country. Today, this no longer holds true.

Many illegal aliens already know how to navigate to the head of the line when they need health care. Those who are legal citizens of the United States, pay taxes and abide by the laws and struggle to survive, seem to get ignored. It would appear that nothing has changed in our country, and yet it has.

With over 500,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona alone, the state finds itself in a dire financial situation. The only aid seems to be coming from the legal Tax Paying residents. That is not enough, when others are pulling down resources faster then they can be built up. Legal citizens are the same people who have to house, feed, and educate their families too in these difficult times. That in itself seems to be a daunting task.

The state of Arizona, is attempting to solve one of its financial burdens in a way that the Federal Government refuses. By securing its borders and protecting its citizens against the spread of illegal immigration, gang violence, and drug cartels Is that wrong? A nation must take care of its own family first, and then try to help others.

No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt, 3rd State of the Union Address

There are no perfect solutions to this problem. If it means trying new methods of control by enforcing new laws, then so be it. The only way to make progress is to attempt to find and implement solutions and modify or change them if they don’t work. Doing nothing at all will surely never be a solution to the steady stream of illegal immigrants that drain finances and services for an already over burdened government.

Hearing Impaired License Plate (Arizona)

Adot form 96-0104

The laws of each state differ. Here in Arizona it IS possible to obtain a hearing impaired license plate.

The Arizona license plate (which begins with the letter “H” followed by 5 digits) immediately alerts law enforcement personnel that the driver is hearing impaired.

The requirements differ from state to state, but for Arizona, you will need to complete: ADOT Form 96-0104

For Hearing impaired: “To alert law enforcement and others to the driver’s conditions (not for special parking privileges).

Medical Certification must be completed by a person licensed to practice medicine in the United States or an audiologist certified by the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association. Applicant must be unable to hear or understand normal speech, with or with a hearing aid in optimal conditions. (ADOT form 96-0104)

Adot form 96-0104

Laws vary by state. Check with each state’s local Department of Motor Vehicles for applicable laws.

The Strange and Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit

An interesting story about the last hermit, Aspergers, surviving.

The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit

Reposted from here. The original site has tonnes of excess contacts a loads very slow.


For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend—or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest

By Michael Finkel

September 2014

Photo: Andy Molloy/ Kennebec Journal/ AP Photo

The hermit set out of camp at midnight, carrying his backpack and his bag of break-in tools, and threaded through the forest, rock to root to rock, every step memorized. Not a boot print left behind. It was cold and nearly moonless, a fine night for a raid, so he hiked about an hour to the Pine Tree summer camp, a few dozen cabins spread along the shoreline of North Pond in central Maine. With an expert twist of a screwdriver, he popped open a door of the dining hall and slipped inside, scanning the pantry shelves with his penlight.

Candy! Always good. Ten rolls of Smarties, stuffed in a pocket. Then, into his backpack, a bag of marshmallows, two tubs of ground coffee, some Humpty Dumpty potato chips. Burgers and bacon were in the locked freezer. On a previous raid at Pine Tree, he’d stolen a key to the walk-in, and now he used it to open the stainless-steel door. The key was attached to a plastic four-leaf-clover key chain, with one of the leaves partially broken off. A three-and-a-half-leaf clover.

He could’ve used a little more luck. Newly installed in the Pine Tree kitchen, hidden behind the ice machine, was a military-grade motion detector. The device remained silent in the kitchen but sounded an alarm in the home of Sergeant Terry Hughes, a game warden who’d become obsessed with catching the thief. Hughes lived a mile away. He raced to the camp in his pickup truck and sprinted to the rear of the dining hall. He peeked in a window.

And there he was. Probably. The person stealing food appeared entirely too clean, his face freshly shaved. He wore eyeglasses and a wool ski hat. Was this really the North Pond Hermit, a man who’d tormented the surrounding community for years—decades—yet the police still hadn’t learned his name?

Hughes used his cell phone, quietly, and asked the Maine State Police to alert trooper Diane Perkins-Vance, who had also been hunting the hermit. Before Perkins-Vance could get there, the burglar, his backpack full, started toward the exit. If the man stepped into the forest, Hughes understood, he might never be found again.

The burglar eased out of the dining hall, and Hughes used his left hand to blind the man with his flashlight; with his right he aimed his .357 square on his nose. “Get on the ground!” he bellowed.

The thief complied, no resistance, and lay facedown, candy spilling out of his pockets. It was one thirty in the morning on April 4, 2013. Perkins-Vance soon arrived, and the burglar was placed, handcuffed, in a plastic chair. The officers asked his name. He refused to answer. His skin was strangely pale; his glasses, with chunky plastic frames, were extremely outdated. But he wore a nice Columbia jacket, new Lands’ End blue jeans, and sturdy boots. The officers searched him, and no identification was located.

Hughes left the suspect alone with Perkins-Vance. She removed his handcuffs and gave him a bottle of water. And he started to speak. A little. When Perkins-Vance asked why he didn’t want to answer any questions, he said he was ashamed. He spoke haltingly, uncertainly; the connection between his mind and his mouth seemed to have atrophied from disuse. But over the next couple of hours, he gradually opened up.

His name, he revealed, was Christopher Thomas Knight. Born on December 7, 1965. He said he had no address, no vehicle, did not file a tax return, and did not receive mail. He said he lived in the woods.

“For how long?” wondered Perkins-Vance.

Illustration by Tim O’Brien

Knight thought for a bit, then asked when the Chernobyl nuclear-plant disaster occurred. He had long ago lost the habit of marking time in months or years; this was just a news event he happened to remember. The nuclear meltdown took place in 1986, the same year, Knight said, he went to live in the woods. He was 20 years old at the time, not long out of high school. He was now 47, a middle-aged man.

Knight stated that over all those years he slept only in a tent. He never lit a fire, for fear that smoke would give his camp away. He moved strictly at night. He said he didn’t know if his parents were alive or dead. He’d not made one phone call or driven in a car or spent any money. He had never in his life sent an e-mail or even seen the Internet.

He confessed that he’d committed approximately forty robberies a year while in the woods—a total of more than a thousand break-ins. But never when anyone was home. He said he stole only food and kitchenware and propane tanks and reading material and a few other items. Knight admitted that everything he possessed in the world, he’d stolen, including the clothes he was wearing, right down to his underwear. The only exception was his eyeglasses.

Perkins-Vance called dispatch and learned that Knight had no criminal record. He said he grew up in a nearby community, and his senior picture was soon located in the 1984 Lawrence High School yearbook. He was wearing the same eyeglasses.

For close to three decades, Knight said, he had not seen a doctor or taken any medicine. He mentioned that he had never once been sick. You had to have contact with other humans, he claimed, in order to get sick.

When, said Perkins-Vance, was the last time he’d had contact with another person?

Sometime in the 1990s, answered Knight, he passed a hiker while walking in the woods.

“What did you say?” asked Perkins-Vance.

“I said, ‘Hi,’ ” Knight replied. Other than that single syllable, he insisted, he had not spoken with or touched another human being, until this night, for twenty-seven years.


Christopher Knight was arrested, charged with burglary and theft, and transported to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta, the state capital. For the first time in nearly 10,000 days, he slept indoors.

News of the capture stunned the citizens of North Pond. For decades, they’d felt haunted by…something. It was hard to say what. At first, in the late 1980s, there were strange occurrences. Flashlights were missing their batteries. Steaks disappeared from the fridge. New propane tanks on the grill had been replaced by old ones. “My grandkids thought I was losing my mind,” said David Proulx, whose vacation cabin was broken into at least fifty times.

Then people began noticing other things. Wood shavings near window locks; scratches on doorframes. Was it a neighbor? A gang of teenagers? The robberies continued—boat batteries, frying pans, winter jackets. Fear took hold. “We always felt like he was watching us,” one resident said. The police were called, repeatedly, but were unable to help.

Locks were changed, alarm systems installed. Nothing seemed to stop him. Or her. Or them. No one knew. A few desperate residents even left notes on their doors: “Please don’t break in. Tell me what you need and I’ll leave it out for you.” There was never a reply.

Incidents mounted, and the phantom morphed into legend. Eventually he was given a name: the North Pond Hermit. At a homeowners’ meeting in 2002, the hundred people present were asked who had suffered break-ins. Seventy-five raised their hands. Campfire hermit stories were swapped. One kid recalled that when he was 10 years old, all his Halloween candy was stolen. That kid is now 34.

Still the robberies persisted. The crimes, after so long, felt almost supernatural. “The legend of the hermit lived on for years and years,” said Pete Cogswell, whose jeans and belt were worn by the hermit when he was caught. “Did I believe it? No. Who really could?”

Knight’s arrest, rather than eliminating disbelief, only enhanced it. The truth was stranger than the myth. One man had actually lived in the woods of Maine for twenty-seven years, in an unheated nylon tent. Winters in Maine are long and intensely cold: a wet, windy cold, the worst kind of cold. A week of winter camping is an impressive achievement. An entire season is practically unheard of.

Though hermits have been documented for thousands of years, Knight’s feat appears to exist in a category of its own. He engaged in zero communication with the outside world. He never snapped a photo. He did not keep a journal. His camp was undisclosed to everyone.

There may have been others like Knight, whose commitment to isolation was absolute—he planned to live his entire life in secret—but if so, they were never found. Capturing Knight was the human equivalent of netting a giant squid. He was an uncontacted tribe of one.

Reporters across Maine, and soon enough across the nation and the world, attempted to contact him. What did he wish to tell us? What secrets had he uncovered? How had he survived? He stayed resolutely silent. Even after his arrest, the North Pond Hermit remained a complete mystery.


I decided to write him a letter. I wrote it by hand, pen on paper, and sent it from my home in Montana to the Kennebec County jail. I mentioned I was a journalist seeking explanations for his baffling life. A week later, a white envelope arrived in my mailbox. The return address, printed in blue ink in wobbly-looking block letters, read “Chris Knight.” It was a brief note—three paragraphs; 272 words. Still, it contained some of the first statements Knight had shared with anyone in the world.

“I replied to your letter,” he explained, “because writing letters relieves somewhat the stress and boredom of my present situation.” Also, he didn’t feel comfortable speaking. “My vocal, verbal skills have become rather rusty and slow.”

I’d mentioned in my letter that I was an avid reader. From what I could tell, Knight was, too. Many victims of Knight’s thefts reported that their books were often stolen—from Tom Clancy potboilers to dense military histories to James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Continued (page 2 of 5)

Hemingway, I wrote, was one of my favorites. It seemed that Knight was shy about everything except literary criticism; he answered that he felt “rather lukewarm” about Hemingway. Instead, he noted, he’d rather read Rudyard Kipling, preferably his “lesser known works.” As if catching himself getting a little friendly, he added that since he didn’t know me, he really didn’t want to say more.

Then he seemed concerned that he was now being too unfriendly. “I wince at the rudeness of this reply but think it better to be clear and honest rather than polite. Tempted to say ‘nothing personal,’ but handwritten letters are always personal.” He ended with: “It was kind of you to write. Thank you.” He did not sign his name.

I wrote him back and sent him a couple of Kiplings (The Man Who Would Be King and Captains Courageous). His response, two and a half pages, felt as raw and honest as a diary entry. He was suffering in jail; the noise and the filth tore at his senses. “You asked how I sleep. Little and uneasy. I am nearly always tired and nervous.” In his next letter, he added, in his staccato, almost song-lyric style, that he deserved to be imprisoned. “I stole. I was a thief. I repeatedly stole over many years. I knew it was wrong. Knew it was wrong, felt guilty about it every time, yet continued to do it.”

We exchanged letters throughout the summer of 2013. Rather than becoming gradually more accustomed to jail, to being around other people, Knight was deteriorating. In the woods, he said, he’d always carefully maintained his facial hair, but now he stopped shaving. “Use my beard,” he wrote, “as a jail calendar.”

He tried several times to converse with other inmates. He could force out a few hesitant words, but every topic—music, movies, television—was lost on him, as was most slang. “You speak like a book,” one inmate teased. Whereupon he ceased talking.

“I am retreating into silence as a defensive move,” he wrote. Soon he was down to uttering just five words, and only to guards: yes; no; please; thank you. “I am surprised by the amount of respect this garners me. That silence intimidates puzzles me. Silence is to me normal, comfortable.”

He wrote little about his time in the woods, but what he did reveal was harrowing. Some years, he made it clear, he barely survived the winter. In one letter, he told me that to get through difficult times, he tried meditating. “I didn’t meditate every day, month, season in the woods. Just when death was near. Death in the form of too little food or too much cold for too long.” Meditation worked, he concluded. “I am alive and sane, at least I think I’m sane.” As always there was no formal closing. His letters simply ended, sometimes mid-thought.

He returned to the theme of sanity in a following letter. “When I came out of the woods they applied the label hermit to me. Strange idea to me. I had never thought of myself as a hermit. Then I got worried. For I knew with the label hermit comes the idea of crazy. See the ugly little joke.”

Even worse, he feared his time in jail would only prove correct those who doubted his sanity. “I suspect,” he wrote, “more damage has been done to my sanity in jail, in months; than years, decades, in the woods.”

His legal proceedings were mired in delays, as the district attorney and his lawyer tried to figure out how justice could be served in a case entirely without precedent.

After four months in jail, Knight had no clue what punishment awaited. A sentence of a dozen or more years was possible. “Stress levels sky high,” he wrote. “Give me a number. How long? Months? Years? How long in prison for me. Tell me the worst. How long?”

In the end, he decided he could not even write. “For a while writing relieved stress for me. No longer.” He sent one last, heartbreaking letter in which he seemed at the verge of breakdown. “Still tired. More tired. Tireder, tiredest, tired ad nauseam, tired infinitum.”

And that was it. He never wrote me again. Though he did finally sign his name. Despite the exhaustion and the tension, the last words he penned were wry and self-mocking: “Your friendly neighborhood Hermit, Christopher Knight.”


Three weeks after his final letter, I flew to Maine. The Kennebec County jail, a three-story slab of pale gray cinder blocks, permits visitors most evenings at six forty-five. I arrived early. “Who you here to see?” asked a corrections officer.

“Christopher Knight.”


“Friend,” I answered unconfidently. He didn’t know I was here, and I had my doubts he’d see me.

I sat on a bench as other visitors checked in. Beyond the walls of the waiting room, I could hear piercing buzzers and slamming doors. Eventually an officer appeared and called out, “Knight.”

He unlocked a maroon door and I stepped inside a visitors’ booth. Three short stools were bolted to the floor in front of a narrow desk. Over the desk, dividing the booth into sealed-off halves, was a thick pane of shatterproof plastic. Sitting on a stool on the other side of the pane was Christopher Knight.

Rarely in my life have I witnessed someone less pleased to see me. His lips, thin, were pulled into a downturned scowl. His eyes did not rise to meet mine. I sat across from him, and there was no acknowledgment of my presence, not the merest nod. He gazed someplace beyond my left shoulder. He was wearing a dull green overlaundered jail uniform several sizes too big.

A black phone receiver was hanging on the wall. I picked it up. He picked his up—the first movement I saw him make.

I spoke first. “Nice to meet you, Chris.”

He didn’t respond. He just sat there, stone-faced. His balding head shone like a snowfield beneath the fluorescent lights; his beard was a mess of reddish brown curls. He had on silver-framed glasses, different from the ones he’d worn forever in the woods. He was very skinny. He’d lost a great deal of weight since his arrest.

I tend to babble when I’m nervous, but I made a conscious effort to restrain myself. I recalled what Knight wrote in his letter about being comfortable with silence. I looked at him not looking at me. Maybe a minute passed.

That was all I could endure. “The constant banging and buzzing in here,” I said, “must be so jarring compared with the sounds of nature.” He shifted his eyes to me—a small victory—then glanced away. His eyes are light brown. He scarcely has any eyebrows. I let my comment hang in the air.

Then he spoke. Or at least his mouth moved. His first words to me were inaudible. I saw why: He was holding the phone’s mouthpiece too low, below his chin. It had been decades since he’d used a phone; he was out of practice. I indicated with my hand that he needed to move it up. He did. And he repeated his grand pronouncement.

“It’s jail,” he said. There was nothing more. Silence again.

I shouldn’t have come. He didn’t want me here; I didn’t feel comfortable being here. But the jail had granted me a one-hour visit, and I resolved to stay. I settled atop my stool. I felt hyperaware of all my gestures, my expressions, my breathing. Chris’s right leg, I saw through the scuffed window, was bouncing rapidly. He scratched at his skin.

Photo: Jennifer Smith-Mayo

My patience was rewarded. First his leg settled down. He quit scratching. And then, rather shockingly, he started talking.

“Some people want me to be this warm and fuzzy person. All filled with friendly hermit wisdom. Just spouting off fortune-cookie lines from my hermit home.”

His voice was clear; he’d retained the stretched vowels of a Down East Maine accent. And his words, when he deigned to release them, could evidently be imaginative and entertaining. And caustic.

“Your hermit home—like under a bridge?” I said, trying to play along.

He presented me with an achingly long blink.

“You’re thinking of a troll.”

I laughed. His face moved in the direction of a smile. We had made a connection—or at least the awkwardness of our introduction had softened. We began to converse somewhat normally. He called me Mike and I called him Chris.

He explained about the lack of eye contact. “I’m not used to seeing people’s faces,” he said. “There’s too much information there. Aren’t you aware of it? Too much, too fast.”

I followed his cue and looked over his shoulder while he stared over mine. We maintained this arrangement for most of the visit. Chris had recently been given a mental-health evaluation by Maine’s forensic service. The report mentioned a possible diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder, a form of autism often marked by exceptional intelligence but extreme sensitivity to motions, sounds, and light.

Chris had just learned of Asperger’s while in jail, and he seemed unfazed by the diagnosis. “I don’t think I’ll be a spokesman for the Asperger’s telethon. Do they still do telethons? I hate Jerry Lewis.” He said he was taking no medications. “But I don’t like people touching me,” he added. “You’re not a hugger, are you?”

I admitted that I do at times participate in embraces.

“I’m glad this is between us,” he said, indicating the glass. “If there was a set of blinds here, I’d close them.”

There was a part of me that was perversely charmed by Chris. He could seem prickly—he is prickly—but this was merely a protective cover. He told me that since his capture, he’d often found himself emotionally overwhelmed at unexpected moments. “Like TV commercials,” he said, “have made me teary. It’s not a good thing in jail to have people see you crying.”

Everything he said seemed candid and blunt, unfiltered by the safety net of social niceties. “I’m not sorry about being rude if it gets to the point quicker,” he told me.

Continued (page 3 of 5)

That’s fine, I said, though I expected to ask questions that might kindle his rudeness. But I started with a gentle one: What was your life like before you went into the forest?


Before he slept in the woods for a quarter century straight, Chris never once spent a night in a tent. He was raised in the community of Albion, a forty-five-minute drive east of his camp; he has four older brothers and one younger sister. His father, who died in 2001, worked in a creamery. His mother, now in her eighties, still lives in the same house where Chris grew up, a modest two-story colonial on a wooded fifty-acre plot.

The family is extremely private and did not speak with me. Their next-door neighbor told me that in fourteen years, he hasn’t exchanged more than a word with Chris’s mom. Sometimes he sees her getting the paper. “Culturally my family is old Yankee,” Chris said. “We’re not emotionally bleeding all over each other. We’re not touchy-feely. Stoicism is expected.”

Chris insisted that he had a fine childhood. “No complaints,” he said. “I had good parents.” He shared vivid stories of moose hunting with his father. “A couple of hunting trips I slept in the back of the pickup, but never alone and never in a tent.” After he’d disappeared, his family apparently didn’t report him missing to the police, though they may have hired a private detective. No one uncovered a clue. Two of Chris’s brothers, Joel and Tim, visited him in jail. “I didn’t recognize them,” Chris admitted.

“My brothers supposed I was dead,” said Chris, “but never expressed this to my mom. They always wanted to give her hope. Maybe he’s in Texas, they’d say. Or he’s in the Rocky Mountains.” Chris did not allow his mother to visit. “Look at me, I’m in my prison clothes. That’s not how I was raised. I couldn’t face her.”

He said he had excellent grades in high school, though no friends, and graduated early. Like two of his brothers, he enrolled in a nine-month electronics course at Sylvania Technical School in Waltham, Massachusetts. Then, still in Waltham, he took a job installing home and vehicle alarm systems; valuable knowledge to have once he started stealing.

He bought a new car, a white 1985 Subaru Brat. His brother Joel co-signed the loan. “I screwed him on that,” Chris said. “I still owe him.” He worked less than a year before he quit. He drove the Brat to Maine, went through his hometown without stopping—”one last look around”—and kept driving north. Soon he reached the edge of Moosehead Lake, where Maine begins to get truly remote.

“I drove until I was nearly out of gas. I took a small road. Then a small road off that small road. Then a trail off that.” He parked the car. He placed the keys in the center console. “I had a backpack and minimal stuff. I had no plans. I had no map. I didn’t know where I was going. I just walked away.”

It was late summer of 1986. He’d camp in one spot for a week or so, then hike south, following the natural geology of Maine, with its long, glacier-carved valleys. “I lost track of where I was,” he said. “I didn’t care.” For a while, he tried foraging for food. He ate roadkill partridges. Then he began taking corn and potatoes from people’s gardens.

“But I wanted more than vegetables,” he said. “It took a while to overcome my scruples. I was always scared when stealing. Always.” He insists he never encountered anyone during a robbery; he made sure there was no car in the driveway, no sign of anyone inside. “It was usually 1 or 2 A.M. I’d go in, hit the cabinets, the refrigerator. In and out. My heart rate was soaring. It was not a comfortable act. I took no pleasure in it, none at all, and I wanted it over as quickly as possible.” A single mistake, he understood, and the outside world would snatch him back.

He roamed about for two years before he discovered the campsite he would call home. He knew at once it was ideal. “Then,” he said, “I settled in.”

The majority of North Pond residents I spoke with found it hard to believe Knight’s story. Many insisted that he either had help or spent the winters in unoccupied cabins. As the time allotted for our visit wound down, I challenged Chris myself: You must, I said, have had assistance at some time. Or slept in a cabin. Or used a bathroom.

Chris’s demeanor changed. It was the only time in our meeting that he held eye contact. “Never once did I sleep inside,” he said. He never used a shower. Or a toilet.

He did admit to thawing meat in a microwave a few times during break-ins. But he endured every season entirely on his own. “I’m a thief. I induced fear. People have a right to be angry. But I have not lied.”

I trusted him. I sensed, in fact, that Chris was practically incapable of lying. I wasn’t alone in this thought. Diane Perkins-Vance, the state trooper present at his arrest, told me that much of her job consisted of sorting through lies people fed her. With Chris, however, she had no doubts. “Unequivocally,” she said, “I believe him.”

Before he hung up the phone, Chris added that if I could see where he lived and how he survived, I’d know for sure.

It was my plan to find his camp. Afterward, I said, I’d like to return to the jail. Could we meet again?

His answer was unexpected. He said, “Yes.”


The Belgrade Lakes area, where Knight lived, is cow-and-horse rural, nothing like the vast North Woods of Maine, wild and unpeopled. Knight’s camp was located on private property, just a few hundred feet from the nearest cabin, in an area crisscrossed by dirt roads.

When I saw Knight’s woods myself, I understood how he could remain there unnoticed. The tangle of hemlock and maple and elm is so dense the forest holds its own humidity; one step in and my glasses fogged.

But what made navigation truly treacherous were the boulders—vehicle-sized glacier-borne gifts from the last ice age—scattered wildly and everywhere. I thrashed about for an hour, wrenched a knee between two moss-slick rocks, then gave up and retreated to a road.

From left: Jennifer Smith Mayo; Maine State Police/The New York Times/Redux Pictures

Before Chris was jailed, he’d led Hughes and Perkins-Vance to his camp; I knew roughly where it was located, but my second attempt was also a failure. There was no hint of a trail. Mosquitoes swarmed. Finally, reduced to slogging in a gridlike pattern, I squeezed around a boulder and there it was.

My goodness. Chris had carved from the chaos a bedroom-sized clearing completely invisible from a few steps away, situated on a slight rise that allowed enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes away, but not so much as to cause severe windchill in winter. It was surrounded by a natural Stonehenge of boulders; overhead, tree branches linked to form a trellis-like canopy that masked his site from the air. This is why Chris’s skin was so pale—he’d lived in perpetual shade. I ended up staying there three nights, watching the rabbits by day, at night picking out a few stars behind the scrim of branches. It was as gorgeous and peaceful a place as I have ever spent time.

The police had dismantled much of his camp, but during my next visit with Chris, and several after that, he described his living space in meticulous detail. In total, Chris and I met at the jail for nine hours.

He slept in a simple camping tent, which he kept covered by several layers of brown tarps. Camouflage, he felt, was essential; he didn’t want to risk anything shiny catching someone’s eye, so he spray-painted, in foresty colors, his garbage bins and his coolers and his cooking pot. He even painted his clothespins green.

The breadth of his thievery was impressive. He’d fled the modern world only to live off the fat of it. Inside his tent was a metal bedframe he’d removed from the Pine Tree Camp; he had hauled it across the pond in a canoe. He didn’t steal the canoe. He just borrowed one, as he often did, from a lakeside cabin—”there’s a wide selection”—then returned it, sprinkling pine needles inside to make it seem unused. He also stole a box spring and mattress and sleeping bags.

He stole toilet paper and hand sanitizer for his bathroom spot. He took laundry detergent and shampoo for his wash area. There was no fire pit, as he’d insisted. He cooked on a Coleman two-burner stove that he connected to propane tanks. He stole a tremendous number of tanks, pillaging gas grills along the thirty-mile circumference of the pond. He never returned them. He buried the tanks—possibly hundreds of them—in his dump at the camp’s edge.

He stole deodorant, disposable razors, flashlights, snow boots, spices, mousetraps, spray paint, and electrical tape. He took pillows off beds. He kept three different types of thermometers in camp: digital, mercury, spring-loaded. Knowing the exact temperature was mandatory. He stole watches—he had to be sure, while on a raid, that he could return to camp before daybreak.

Deeper into the forest, in his “upper cache,” as he called it, he’d stashed plastic totes filled with enough supplies—a tent and a sleeping bag, some warm clothes—so that if he heard someone approach his camp, he could instantly abandon it and start anew. He was committed.

His diet was terrible. “Cooking is too kind a word for what I did,” Chris told me. He’d not been sick in the woods, and his worst accident was a tumble on some ice, but his teeth were rotten, and no wonder. I dug through his twenty-five years of trash, buried between boulders, and kept inventory: a five-pound tub that once held Marshmallow Fluff, an empty box of Devil Dogs, peanut butter, Cheetos, honey, graham crackers, Cool Whip, tuna fish, coffee, Tater Tots, pudding, soda, El Monterey spicy jalapeño chimichangas, and on and on and on.

Continued (page 4 of 5)

He stole radios and earphones and hid an antenna up in trees. For a while, he listened to a lot of conservative talk radio. Later he got hooked on classical music—Tchaikovsky and Brahms, yes; Bach, no. “Bach is too pristine,” he said. He went through a spell of listening to television shows on the radio; “theater of the mind,” he called it. Everybody Loves Raymond was a favorite. But his undying passion was classic rock: the Who, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and above all, Lynyrd Skynyrd. We covered hundreds of topics while chatting in jail, and nothing received higher praise than Lynyrd Skynyrd. “They will be playing Lynyrd Skynyrd songs in a thousand years,” he proclaimed.

He also stole the occasional handheld video game—Pokémon, Tetris, Dig Dug—but the majority of his free time was spent reading or observing the forest. “Don’t mistake me for some bird-watching PBS type,” he warned, but then proceeded to poetically describe the crunch of dry leaves underfoot (“walking on corn flakes”) and the rumble of an ice crack propagating across the pond (“like a bowling ball rolling down an alley”).

He stole hundreds of books over the years; his preference was military history—he named William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as his favorite book—but he took whatever was available. Magazines were more common. When he finished them, he’d create bricks of magazines, bound with electrical tape, and bury them in the ground to level out his camp. Beneath his tent area were dozens of these bricks.

I unearthed a stack of National Geographics with the dates still legible: 1991 and 1992. I also saw People, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Vanity Fair. There was even a collection of Playboys. One book Chris never stole was the Bible. “I can’t claim a belief system,” he said. He celebrated no holidays. He meditated now and then but did not pray.

With one exception. When the worst of a Maine winter struck, all rules were suspended. “Once you get below negative twenty, you purposely don’t think,” he told me. His eyes went wide and fearful from the memory. “That’s when you do have religion. You do pray. You pray for warmth.”


Chris lived by the rhythms of the seasons, but his thoughts were dominated by surviving winter. Preparations began at the end of each summer as the lakeside cabins were shutting down for the year. “It was my busiest time,” he said. “Harvest time. A very ancient instinct. Though not usually associated with crime.”

His first goal was to get fat. This was a life-or-death necessity. “I gorged myself on sugar and alcohol,” he said. “It’s the quickest way to gain weight, and I liked the inebriation.” The bottles he stole were signs of a man who’d never once, as he admitted, ordered a drink at a bar: Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy, Seagram’s Escapes Strawberry Daiquiri, something called Whipped Chocolate Valley Vines (from the label: “fine chocolate, whipped cream & red wine”).

Photo: Jennifer Smith-Mayo

As the evenings began to chill, he grew his beard to the ideal length—about an inch, long enough to insulate his face, short enough to prevent ice buildup. He intensified his thieving raids, stocking up on food and propane. The first snow usually came in November. Chris was always fearful about leaving a single boot print anywhere, which is impossible to avoid in a blanket of snow. And so for the next six months, until the spring thaw in April, Chris rarely strayed from his clearing in the woods.

I asked him if he just slept all the time, a human hibernation. “Completely wrong,” he replied. “It’s dangerous to sleep too long in winter.” When seriously frigid weather descended, he conditioned himself to fall asleep at 7:30 P.M. and get up at 2 A.M. “That way, at the depth of cold, I was awake.” If he remained in bed any longer, condensation from his body could freeze his sleeping bag. “If you try and sleep through that kind of cold, you might never wake up.”

The first thing he’d do at 2 A.M. was light his stove and start melting snow. To get his blood circulating, he’d pace the perimeter of his camp. His feet never seemed to fully thaw, but as long as he had a fresh pair of socks, this wasn’t a problem. “It’s more important to be dry than warm,” Chris said. By dawn, he’d have his day’s water supply. “Then, if I had had food, I’d have a meal.”

And if he didn’t have food? There were, he said, some very hard winters—desperate winters—in which he ran out of propane and finished his food. The suffering was acute. Chris called it “physical, emotional, and psychological pain.” He hinted to me there were times he contemplated suicide.

Why not just leave the woods? Chris said he thought about it. He even kept a whistle in his camp. “If I blew on it in sequences of three, help might come.” But he never used it. Rather, he made a firm decision that unless forcibly removed, he was going to spend the rest of his life behind the trees.

When he heard the song of the chickadees, he told me, he could finally relax. “That alerted me that winter is starting to lessen its grip. That the end is near. That spring is coming and I’m still alive.”

The cold never got easier. All his winter-camping expertise felt offset by advancing age. “You should have seen me in my twenties,” he boasted. “I was lord of the woods. I ruled the land I walked upon. I was tough and clever.” But over time, like an aging athlete, his body began to break down. The biggest issue was his eyesight. “For the last ten years, anything beyond an arm’s length was a blur. I used my ears more than my eyes.” If he saw a pair of glasses during a break-in, he always tried them on, but was unable to find a better prescription. His agility faded; bruises took longer to heal. His teeth constantly hurt.

The victims of his thefts, after years of waiting for a police breakthrough, eventually took matters into their own hands. Neal Patterson, whose family has owned a place on the pond for fifty years, began hiding all night in his dark house with a .357 Magnum in his hand. “I wanted to be the guy that caught the hermit,” he said. He stayed up fourteen nights one summer before he quit.

Debbie Baker, whose young boys were terrified of the hermit—to quell their fears, the family renamed him “the hungry man”—installed a surveillance camera in their cabin. And in 2002, they captured a photo of Knight. The police widely distributed the photo and figured an arrest was imminent.

It took eleven more years. After a robbery in March of 2013 at the Pine Tree Camp, Sergeant Terry Hughes, who often volunteered there, contacted the border patrol for advice. “It had gone on long enough,” said Hughes. He installed a motion detector that sounded an alarm at his house and practiced dashing from his bed to the camp until he had it down under four minutes. Then Hughes waited for the hermit to return.


Following his arrest, the court of public opinion was deeply divided. The man who wanted to live his life as invisibly as possible had become one of the most famous people in Maine. You could not walk into a bar in the Augusta area without stumbling into a debate about what should be done with Christopher Knight.

Some said that he must immediately be released from jail. Stealing cheese and bacon are not serious crimes. The man was apparently never violent. He didn’t carry a weapon. He’s an introvert, not a criminal. He clearly has no desire to be a part of our world. Let’s open a Kickstarter, get him enough cash for a few years’ worth of groceries, and allow him to go back to the woods. Some people were willing to let him live on their land, rent-free.

Others countered that it wasn’t the physical items he robbed that made his crimes so disturbing—he stole hundreds of people’s peace of mind. Their sense of security. How were they supposed to know Knight wasn’t armed and dangerous? Even a single break-in can be punishable by a ten-year sentence. If Knight really wanted to live in the woods, he should’ve done so on public lands, hunting and fishing for food. He’s nothing but a lazy man and a thief times a thousand. Lock him up in the state penitentiary.

On October 28, 2013, Chris appeared in Kennebec County Superior Court and pleaded guilty to thirteen counts of burglary and theft. He was sentenced to seven months in jail—he’d already served all but a week of this, waiting for his case to be resolved. The sentence was far more lenient than it could have been, though even the prosecutor said a long prison term seemed cruel in this case. Chris was ordered to meet with a judge every Monday, and avoid alcohol, and either find a job or go to school. If he violated these terms, he could be sent to prison for seven years.

Before his release, I met with Chris again. He said he’d be returning home, to live with his mother. His beard was unruly—”my crazy hermit beard,” he called it. He was alarmingly skinny; he itched all over. We still didn’t make much eye contact.

“I don’t know your world,” he said. “Only my world, and memories of the world before I went into the woods. What life is today? What is proper? I have to figure out how to live.” He wished he could return to his camp—”I miss the woods”—but he knew by the rules of his release that this was impossible. “Sitting here in jail, I don’t like what I see in the society I’m about to enter. I don’t think I’m going to fit in. It’s too loud. Too colorful. The lack of aesthetics. The crudeness. The inanities. The trivia.”

Continued (page 5 of 5)

I told him I agreed with much of his assessment. But, I wondered, what about your world? What insights did you glean from your time alone? I had been trying to ask him these questions every visit, but now I pushed the point harder.

Anyone who reveals what he’s learned, Chris told me, is not by his definition a true hermit. Chris had come around on the idea of himself as a hermit, and eventually embraced it. When I mentioned Thoreau, who spent two years at Walden, Chris dismissed him with a single word: “dilettante.”

True hermits, according to Chris, do not write books, do not have friends, and do not answer questions. I asked why he didn’t at least keep a journal in the woods. Chris scoffed. “I expected to die out there. Who would read my journal? You? I’d rather take it to my grave.” The only reason he was talking to me now, he said, is because he was locked in jail and needed practice interacting with others.

“But you must have thought about things,” I said. “About your life, about the human condition.”

Chris became surprisingly introspective. “I did examine myself,” he said. “Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.”

That was nice. But still, I pressed on, there must have been some grand insight revealed to him in the wild.

He returned to silence. Whether he was thinking or fuming or both, I couldn’t tell. Though he did arrive at an answer. I felt like some great mystic was about to reveal the Meaning of Life.

“Get enough sleep.”

He set his jaw in a way that conveyed he wouldn’t be saying more. This is what he’d learned. I accepted it as truth.

“What I miss most,” he eventually continued, “is somewhere between quiet and solitude. What I miss most is stillness.” He said he’d watched for years as a shelf mushroom grew on the trunk of a Douglas fir in his camp. I’d noticed the mushroom when I visited—it was enormous—and he asked me with evident concern if anyone had knocked it down. I assured him it was still there. In the height of summer, he said, he’d sometimes sneak down to the lake at night. “I’d stretch out in the water, float on my back, and look at the stars.”

At the very end of each of our visits, I’d always asked him the same question. An essential question: Why did he disappear?

He never had a satisfying answer. “I don’t have a reason.” “I can’t explain why.” “Give me more time to think about it.” “It’s a mystery to me, too.” Then he became annoyed: “Why? That question bores me.”

But during our final visit, he was more reflective. Isn’t everybody, he said, seeking the same thing in life? Aren’t we all looking for contentment? He was never happy in his youth—not in high school, not with a job, not being around other people. Then he discovered his camp in the woods. “I found a place where I was content,” he said. His own perfect spot. The only place in the world he felt at peace.

That was all he had to tell me. He’d grown weary of my visits. Please, he begged, leave me alone; we are not friends. I don’t want to be your friend, he said, I don’t want to be anyone’s friend. “I’m not going to miss you at all,” he added.

I liked Chris, a great deal. I liked the way his mind worked; I liked the lyricism of his language. But he was a true hermit. He could no longer disappear into the wild, so he wished to melt away into the world.

“Good-bye, Chris,” I said. A guard had appeared to escort him away, but there was time for Chris to express a last thought. He did not. He hung up the phone. No wave; no nod. He stood, turned his back on me, and walked out of the visitors’ booth and down a corridor of the jail.

MICHAEL FINKEL is the author of True Story.

RSS and Email subscriptions fixed

I never realised that the RSS feed and the email subscriptions do NOT work. I have now fixed that.

If you were previously subscribed to either feed, you will need to re-subscribe.

DOH! I mean, WOO HOO!


A Curmudgeon’s view of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Is it just me?

Like many, I enjoy watching the Summer Olympic Games. However….

I am tired of seeing the same handful of sports over and over and over.
Swimming. Diving. Gymnastics. Volleyball (yeah, that should be an Olympic
Event. NOT!)

And of course, Me-ism is very important. What is shown on Television to the U.S. audience is the United States and how they compete. They only show sporting events where the U.S. has a chance of winning a medal. What’s wrong with showing a sport in which the U.S. does not dominate? Maybe rowing, archery, dressage, cycling why hell, even trampoline is an Olympic Event. (Who knew?) And fencing? It’s over in a few seconds. You don’t know who won, or why? Is it so hard to explain to us neophytes how an event is scored?

Award ceremonies are absent. Even when the U.S. wins, you never hear the national anthem nor see the flags raised of the winning countries. Why? Because it would de-focus the emphasis on the United States. This is a world competition, not a U.S.only Olympic event! What’s wrong with showing an awards ceremony when another country wins?

But then…the Olympics quit being about competition, when they allowed professional athletes in 1986.

and so it goes….


How to opt-out of unwanted credit card offers

Tired of all the junk mail you get for credit card offers?

I had one company that actually sent me a credit card in the mail. All I had to do was call this number and activate it. NO! What would happen if someone stole my mail and activated the card, unbeknown to me?

Here is how to permanently opt-out!

NOTE: It DOES require SSN and DOB.

Permanent opt-out requires that you print and mail the form back to them! If you do NOT send the form, then the opt-out is good for 5 years.