Over the past few days I have had several very interesting encounters with people along the Trail. On the last day when it was raining incredibly hard, there were quite a lot of people, at least 10 who pulled over and asked me if I needed a ride to wherever I was headed. Naturally, I politely declined each kind offer but felt grateful each time someone offered a little bit of kindness even if I could not accept it at the time.
As I was walking in the rain, occasionally interrupted by a generous passing car, a police car turned his flashing lights on and pulled over to the side of the road where I was walking. I thought to myself, “oh, no. I do not want to deal with this crap again” as I recollected the time a police officer randomly wrote me up for walking around a town. To my surprise, the officer rolled down his passenger side window and said, “Do you need a ride?” I smiled and told him no, I was fine. He was kind of shocked that I was walking alone in the pouring rain and I was shocked he asked me a decent human question.
Another encounter occurred yesterday while I was walking through Fowler. Now, Fowler is a very small town made up of about one or two main streets and several side streets. Once again a police officer saw me walking up and down the main street and stopped me. Yet this time, instead of asking me what I was doing and if I walked 2,000 miles often, the officer asked if I was lost or needed some help. I smiled and said “No Sheriff, how could you get lost in a little town like this?” He laughed and said if I needed any help he was there to help. It was wonderful interacting with such a good person.
Finally, my innkeeper at the B&B I stayed at last night was a kindhearted spirit as well. She gave me a great discount on my stay, made me pizza, and fetched me an apple. All of these things were not required yet she wanted to make sure I was cared for as best as she could. This kind of compassion and kindness came from her heart.
I wanted to share these encounters because it is a truly amazing thing when you are able to experience the human side of people. I was thankful for all of the people who stopped to offer me, a perfect stranger, a ride. To me, these are a special kind of people. They do not need to be asked for a favor or the opportunity to do something good. They recognize a situation where they can be helpful and they offer assistance of any kind. They understand that doing a good deed is something in their heart. This kind of recognition is what separates different types of people. On one hand you have those who innately do good and help others and on the other hand you have people who don’t or people who need to be asked to help another person. When you ask a person for help, they have the liberty to accept or decline your request which makes the good deed sort of tarnished in a way.
Overall I was just so happy to encounter all of these wonderful people along the Trail. It was very uplifting to see them, exchange words, to shake their hand, see their smile and literally feel the goodness radiating from their heart. That is living Hope.