He says, "A friend dropped me off this side of Austin. It was on highway 290 and within the first hour I started questioning everything. Was this really what I was supposed to be doing? Seriously. I was walking into fear. And that's as I continued to pray, 'Did I hear that right? Is that what you (capitol Y) were saying? Go out there and start walking and talking and listening. Austin. Show compassion. Show people the love you know. Right?'
Step after step after step until one day I was there on that highway where a friend dropped me off and I said, 'Maybe I don't love the homeless like I claimed.' It was the gospel that I had to remember, and by gospel I mean what my parents taught me. There were books which held an important spot in my life, but the Bible was the best of them. And compassion comes and goes. You can't feel all the pain in the world because that would hurt too much. And 'haters gonna hate'. I had to love to truly love. So my walk to Austin was step by step fear and love. I push past both with the gospel and a small tent on possible private property. For the first time in my life I broke a law man had established. I kept reading the 4th psalm over and
over trying to make it real. So many
things going through my head. Is this
even going to help people? But I kept
repeating, 'In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you
alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety'.
Every time the leaves would rustle a bit near my tent I would turn and
hope it was just the wind. I finally got
so tired I passed out. When I woke up
the next morning I realized something. I
had made it through the night. So simple but a relief to my soul because I knew
it wasn’t going to get easier. I bathed in a nearby creek. Later I would realize that other than a water hose it was the most water I would see. The next morning I packed up my stuff and started walking."
She is vibrant. There is an energy which bounces off of her and onto you. This is love of life and learning and sleeping in and yes, she works.
Walking contains fear. It does for everyone, but everyone has a heart for their fellow man. Or do we? When it's down to them or us. Basic survival means we would pick us if we had to choose, but she doesn't want to. She'd rather not.
What she says is, "I was so scared. That car was right in front of me. Those guys were hooded and there was a pistol and I thought I was going to die. I knew in that moment I had to save myself. And however it happened I was saved by God. I ended up between a mailbox and a garbage can and at that point someone else had to be driving because there is no way I could have driven like that myself. That car turned around just like this." She pulls her hand up, flat and flips it from one way to the opposite.
It was a highway I was on, a half a mile of one. It was early morning dim enough that any car which would pass would have it's headlights on. Those were the headlights staring at me on the road I was supposed to turn.
"Yo, you. Smarty pants, you need to turn around now. You're not so great that anyone is going to save you. There are these moments when you are given a chance to prove your faith, and proving your faith means you were given enough sense to avoid pain and hurt to those around you."
"Little things add up. Don't make people who love you worry."
"But. You claim to walk in faith. Do you? What is faith other than fear and love tied into one."
I was about a quarter of a mile from those two lights when a black truck pulled up, and a driver raised both hands when he said his name after the longest pause and after the question, "How do I know your face?"
I've thought a lot about that question since then. It seems silly, but we see love in people's faces. In that moment that guy showed me what being concerned for another looks like. He showed me he would stop what he was doing to say, "Hey. Are you alright?"
I was a stranger. We all were on that road which Mom says I can't walk anymore.
And what I will tell you is that you can let fear overcome you. I do that all the time, but that morning every step was in fear and love and sweet love won out. It doesn't always happen that way, I know, but every time it does I should maybe say it.
That night in that tent a nobody particular read with a wind up light. He didn't know when he would be back. And he saw and she saw and I saw the very same thing in our hearts. In those moments we called those who we felt loved us and we received the answer we needed. I know I am not all that smart, but today I heard from two people who are.
He says, "One step closer is always one step closer. In our goals or if you find yourself walking from one city to another."
She says, "We had fourteen hours together to come up with a ten minute presentation for the people at the Peace Corps."
Today I am grateful for all the nobody particulars and all the book recommendations I received. I am also grateful for a comment I read.
Book recommendations are:
He recommends the Bible. I guess the King James version. I haven't asked.
My third grade teacher recommends Island of the Blue Dolphins.
She recommends the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
My local librarian recommends Nightbird by Alice Hoffman for a twelve year old girl who is possibly into fantasy or mythology.
In The Ballad of Jessie Pearl Jessie's sister just died.
There is a song not about place but about mercy.
And there is a comment there by Graphics from seven months ago.
"That song came out right before I moved to Brooklyn, with no job, nothing but $500 and a couple of suitcases. A generous man in Brooklyn did indeed take me in, if only for a couple of weeks, but just long enough for me to get a foothold. I met a girl almost immediately, fell in love and moved to lower manhattan. I've never found as many miracles as I did in that great city, and indeed, Brooklyn will take in all those willing and faithful…some time later I did hear this song in a coffee shop. There is mercy in the world. Never forget."
A special thank you goes out to him, to her, to Graphics for a constant reminder.