Wednesday, August 19, 2009

He did not "pass by on the other side"

I had to bail out of my hike this week after 9 miles, unable to cope with climbing Connecticut (Birkshires) mountains in 90+ heat, 90+ humidity, and zero wind. I knew it would be difficult before I started, but I foolishly thought that taking it slow and drinking lots of Gatorade (from powder) would get me through. What I found out is that you lose water much faster than you can replace it.

I won't go into the symptoms that told me I was experiencing heat exhaustion, but they were obvious. I immediately pulled out my map to find the fastest way off the mountain to a main road, and I began hiking my exit, still on the AT. After a few hundred yards I crossed a beautful mountain brook, so I stopped there, prepared another bottle of Gatorade and dunked my feet and lower legs in the cold water for 10-15 minutes to lower my body's core temperature. I was surprised how much better that made me feel! Back on the trail again, I soon found the very steep (meaning, you can fall and die) descending side trail that took me to Massachusetts Route 7. I was careful going down...

Arriving at the road, I saw an entrance to the Housatonic State Park (the Housatonic is a beautiful river) close by, so I walked to within 100 feet of the entrance, put down my pack and hiking poles, and stuck out my thumb for a ride to my car which was parked 10 miles up the road.

A dozen cars and trucks passed me by, but shortly an older large Buick braked suddenly when it reached me. I had a ride! The truck popped open, I dragged my pack and sticks over and into it and parked myself in the front seat where the air conditioner was conveniently on high. I remembered that I had seen a black religious-looking book in the trunk.

The heavy-set driver asked me where I was going, and, upon hearing the answer, said that it was on his intented route. He looked at me and asked if I need to stop to get something to drink, and I answered that I had my Gatorade. I then right off asked him if he was a Christian man, mentioning that I had seen the black book in the trunk. He replied that he was an Orthodox priest who tended to several different Orthodox churches - Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, etc. - smaller churches, he said, and then he mentioned that Rochester, NY, where I live, has several larger Orthodox congregations. He had also done counseling, his explanation leading me to think it had been his way to make a living for awhile.

We chatted briskly as the 15 minutes of our ride together progressed to its conclusion at my blue van. He gave me a minimal synopsis of the four things that he believes make for true religion; contemplation, submission, contrition, and right actions, I believe he said. I told him I was a liberal Presbyterian who sees the model for life in Jesus's actions. We quickly shared experiences of people needing the love and care of others. Then we came to my car, parked safe and sound on the roadside.

My new friend of yesterday was a priest who, upon seeing a stranger needing help on the side of the road, did not pass by. He offered me more help than I requested. He was very much like the Good Samaritan in Jesus's famous answer to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" As I thanked him and prepared to exit his car, he waved his right hand in the Catholic sign of blessing. But in fact, his ride was the blessing.

Jesus ended his story with, "Go and do likewise." It will be fun to try, and I have a new experience of brotherly love to help me remember the lesson.


Dave said...

You know, he's happy too.

thimscool said...

For a second there I thought your title implied that he actually doubled back to pick you up, which could have more sinister connotations.

A nice illustration of the gulf between our modern experience (expectations) and the original meaning.

I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on the futility of literal interpretations...

I am still unconvinced and unimpressed by your sense that we could perish at any moment (as a species). You never substantiated that via link or satisfactory argument. We are here for a reason, I believe.

You don't like to limit God. I think that God needs us (collectively) as much as we need Him (individually). I intend to discuss it with you gradually, if you'll permit me, as we die.

thimscool said...

Brothers in Arms

These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you'll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you'll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
Ive witnessed all your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

Theres so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones

Now the suns gone to hell
And the moons riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But its written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
Were fools to make war
On our brothers in arms