This post will be include references to religion. So will the next post after this one. But that is where the similarity between these two posts will end.
This post will include some very positive behavior. The next post won't.
But I believe that what happened, in both cases, deserves a comparison.
I left Corvallis and took a series of buses to a tiny whistle-stop on the road outside the city of Sweet Home, Oregon. I sat down on an old, moss-covered porch that used to lead up to a building that is long gone, now.
I tipped the green plastic bottle and took a long pull of my favorite soda, Diet
Mountain Dew. The thick gray clouds parted and the sun sparkled on raindrops
that covered the yellow-orange leaves in the grass.
What I thought was going to be a long wait for a ride turned-out to be a very
A car stopped and a little lady stepped out and smiled as she walked toward
"Where ya tryin' to get to?" she asked, before she told me her name.
I told her that I wanted to reach an open shelter on the "other side of the hill."
(The "other side of the hill" is Oregonian for the route past Sisters and the mountain passes to the Bend/Redmond/Prineville/Madras area, on the other side.)
"Well, I think ya should go meet the preacher and his wife" she said,
She drove me "up the hill" to a beautiful area. Then she drove her old car up
a long driveway and stopped. I stared at the tall pine trees, the pretty
home and the white-washed church building beside it.
"This is where they live" she explained.
"Come on" she said, her mouth still curving into that same grin.
I followed her like a bashful puppy, up onto the wrap-around porch and
held my breath as she knocked on the door.
The door opened and a lady who is closer to my age, walked out onto the
porch. She flashed a smile at me as the little lady explained that I
needed a "place to rest."
The older woman's eyes twinkled. Then a tall, thin man with a vague
resemblance to Abraham Lincoln, walked out behind his wife and he
smiled at me, too.
"Come in, come in" they both said and the little woman said goodbye to
me and walked down the steps of the porch.
Suddenly I was left standing, with my backpack over my shoulders, in
front of two people that I didn't know.
"Um..." I mumbled "What do you want me to do, now?"
The couple laughed and asked me to come inside and visit.
So I did.
And as rain drops splashed against the windows and the wind whistled
through those tall evergreens, the preacher, his wife and I shared stories
from our lives.
There was no pretense and there was no protocol. There was no
condescension or criticism. There was no distrust or hateful questions.
There was just three people communicating like old friends always do.
It was simple and straightforward. And they kept on smiling like that
little lady did when she first walked up to me.
Their house is comfortable and includes some of the older woman's
paintings. She is very talented and I told her so.
The preacher told me about how he and his wife used to live out of a
van in San Francisco. And although they now live in a house, they
haven't lost that Bay Area hippie mentality.
They just added God to it.
They invited me to stay in their church building overnight and that's
when I smiled back at them. I was delighted. Yeehaw.
And so I read books, ate a delicious spaghetti dinner and then wrapped
myself in a pile of blankets. The space heater hummed as I closed my
eyes and fell asleep in a big chair in the old church building. I slept like
a baby for hours.
The next morning, I folded the blankets, straightened everything up and
then cleaned myself up in the bathroom. When I walked out to the road
I got a ride within fifteen minutes.
As I climbed into the rig, with my new driver, I turned and saw the preacher
and his wife waving at me...from their house.
The sun slowly began to shine over the road as I told the driver the story
of my night at the Christian couple's house. When I was through, he smiled at me and said, "Well...
that was nice, wasn't it?"
Yeah, that entire experience was nice.
But a few days later, the next ordeal, was not.