This Thanksgiving, I have to admit I’m surrounded by some very difficult stories – some close and some not as close to me. My life really is rediculously comfortable and safe over-all, so I feel spoiled and often not the right person to be writing some of the things I write. However, I’m writing to defend and promote the cause of the souls I come to know.
STORY: I was driving out to a planning conference with my company just a few days ago and I met a soul you’d really enjoy a chat with. I’ll call him Kevin. He was on the side of the road. A few days before that I met a woman we’ll call Rose. She was camped out by a local gas station. During the planning conference, I decided to car camp instead of stay at the expensive hotel, and at the camp ground I met a host couple we’ll name George and Sue. All of these encounters were within about a four day period.
Kevin was blown away he’d ridden from Stockton to near Oakdale on a 15″ bicycle – bmx style. He’d been riding through the night and had no idea where he was. He was digging through a bag of half-eaten fast food on the side of the road. We didn’t talk real long, but I thought you’d want to meet him. He was actually really kind and interesting to talk to. He had been through some dangerous situations recently and felt safer riding this little bike along major highways and digging for scrap metal and old food along the road. He’d found some nice gloves to wear for his work and seemed very grateful for my stopping. I felt like I did nothing for these people. Really, they did so much for me. They gave me perspective, and I hope they do the same for you this Thanksgiving season.
Rose was pleasant to talk with as well, showing real kindness and respect to me as we talked. She kept saying “yes, sir” and was clean and reasonably calm as she sat there with all of her belongings. She says she’s looking for a bike to be able to get around with. Kevin obviously was a step ahead but had far less provisions than Rose. Rose looked me straight in the eyes and seemed surprised by our interaction, as did Kevin.
George and Sue had a different manor about them altogether. George was the main communicator and seemed almost overly confident compared with his circumstances, though I’ll admit all three parties were pretty calm and confident with their situation. They were living out of an RV by night and in the bunk house for the camp by day. George gave me what he called a prophesy that I’d spread my values wherever I go. He seemed burned by his former regular practice of “fundamentalist Christianity”. He had opinions and thoughts all over the gamit and felt strongly that he could sense that I was a follower of Jesus and that I carried the Holy Spirit within me. He seemed troubled in some ways, but was actually an interesting fellow to chat with.
Have you read any of Charles Dickens’ material? These folks along with pretty much all of us remind me of his characters. Aren’t we all a little bit like these folks in different ways? Many of us may have more stable situations, but in some ways isn’t it shocking how calm we are dispite our more desperate moments? Or, on the other hand, how desperate and panicked we act when our situations are far less desperate than these folks.
This Thanksgiving and beyond, let’s look to Christ by looking to the needs (social and physical) of neighbors and people we encounter day-to-day.
Two more stories to wrap up: We’ll call these guys Bob and Randy. Bob was out riding his bike across California, and he claimed that he had information for how to make a claim to some of the land outside of Merced. He had tons of little papers and was pretty well equiped for his travels. Randy was headed to gamble at one of the local casinos and felt certain that one of these days he’d strike it big. He felt he could budget himself to $20 at a time, whenever he had $20 in hand. Both men were taking a gamble of sorts at life, living along the side of the road this way – Bob especially and Randy by hitchhiking – not safe for me or these folks I meet.
Honestly, RISK isn’t so bad. It’s not something we often would say is wise to engage with, nor do we advise others to tangle with Old Man Risk.
Let’s pray for God’s courage and joy to engage with ANYONE God puts in our paths.
It’s my firm belief due to practicing faith in this, that our joy will increase as we ENGAGE and ENJOY these friends along our pilgrim paths.
Much love this Thanksgiving, friends!
P.S. Thanks to my friend for this photo! Taken in the Santa Cruz, CA mountains. Let me know if you’d prefer I not use it ; ). So beautiful! The moon. Thank You God for giving us light even in the darkest times in this life, through our darkest nights.