"Oh, think twice...cuz it's another day for you in Paradise."--from the song, "Another Day In Paradise" recorded by Phil Collins.
We all have
our own definition for Paradise. Some people see it in the time that they spend with their family. Some folks find it in their career or their community. Still others believe that it is waiting for them in a place called Heaven that is still far, far away.
My version of Paradise appears in different ways, every once in awhile. I particularly like the Paradise that includes peace of mind and the opportunity to make a clear point.
Today, I am in Paradise.
And I am enjoying it. Tomorrow I will share the story with everyone who picks me up.
I am now in a rural section of northeastern Ohio. It is hilly and green and filled with blossoming trees. Spring, continued.
I discovered this wonderful place when I made the decision to bypass a metro area. I've changed my route and I will now enter Pennsylvania via a northern highway instead of plowing directly through the city of Pittsburgh.
I was dropped off by a church building on Saturday evening. I stood there for a moment, with my pack on my back and my laptop bag in my hand...and did a panoramic sweep with my eyes...turning in a fascinated pirouette...in the middle of the parking lot.
It was so quiet.
As the sun set...I knew that I had arrived in the "Land of Someplace Special."
And it is special...and different.
When I met the pastor he reminded me, for all the world, of the Mayor of Munchkin Land. He doesn't look like a Munchkin (not in any way, shape or form!) but his personality is close to that character from Oz.
His wife, I think, has regular, informative tea sessions with angels.
That night, I watched the pastor climb up the porch steps of the church building. Then he said, "Watch this." And in the next second, he opened the unlocked front door.
Of course he did. Because...he and his wife and his family and everyone who attends the many activities in that church building...don't care about liability...they believe in love.
And over the weekend, they all shared that love with me...in so many kind ways.
I stayed overnight in the building on Saturday and Sunday night. I attended the Sunday worship service where I was asked to stand and introduce myself. Then I went to a class and got the chance to field questions about my journey across the Country.
I was hugged, patted and pampered like a renegade queen. I ate a fantastic dinner at the pastor's home. And I laughed as I was introduced to Whoville's various idiosyncrasies.
Rabbits chew fresh grass in the morning and birds fly free all day. The wind carries a continuous air of "live and let live."
Now I am getting ready to return to the road. But precious memories will remain...here...behind an unlocked door...in Paradise.
After I published this post, I checked my email account and found the following letter:
"Then I'm going to go to that soup kitchen, sit outside on the tailgate of my truck and talk to people."
["Dear Ruthie, you have rarely left my thoughts since we met. I was the cashier at the gas station where the officer from Attica dropped you off. I'm sure you know that I've been reading your blog ever since that night. Your words have inspired me. The words you spoke to me that night have not been forgotten, you told me there was something bigger happening and my family was a part of it. Your blog has shown me a world I only vaguely knew existed. My mom and the aunt of my heart taught my cousins and I to always help those in need by giving them what they tell you they need because those who are sincere will be thankful, those who aren't won't be. I've always done that and I've seen both. The grateful made me happy, the ungrateful made my heart sink as their wisdom sunk in. But what I never thought of was the need for other things I've never been asked for. Small things that make a big difference to you, warm gloves, sunscreen, bug spray, batteries, hand and foot warmers, a hot drink on a cold night, clean paper towels to dry your hands, loo paper, antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer. These are small things, the money I would spend taking my family out to eat would buy most if not all off those things. Then I thought about laundry soap, dryer sheets, and that a local thrift store has 75 cent days, that tank top I'd never wear could be a huge blessing to a woman with no tank tops on a 100 degree day.
Then, just the day before yesterday, I sat at a ceremony for Girl Scouts moving up to the next level and an older girl spoke about serving a meal at the local soup kitchen and suddenly I had the name of it. More than that, I had a starting place for the idea that has been bouncing around inside my head.
You've inspired me, Ruthie. I'm going to try something, no I'm going to do something and I'm going to try to enlist help. I'm going to buy personal items you've made me think of, sunscreen, bug spray, batteries, small hand sanitizers, powered laundry soap, dryer sheets. I'm going to that next 75 cent sale and get warm weather clothes. Then I'm going to go to that soup kitchen, sit outside on the tailgate of my truck and talk to people. I'm going to hand out those things I collect. I'm going find out if any local shelters need things, paper towels, loo paper, soap, new shower curtains or rods, from the people who use them. I'm going to talk to my local Scout leaders and try to get our troops in on the collections, then I'm going to talk to all the troop leaders in the county and try to make this a county wide project.
You inspired me and even as I type this more things pop in my head, chap stick, tooth brushes, toothpaste, deodorant, rain ponchos, gift boxes for Christmas filled with pampering items like perfume, nail polish, aftershave.
I know some people would say I'm crazy, that I should just donate some cash to the Salvation Army or some place and be done but I know that that may or may not make a difference. Thanks to you I can see that $100 worth of anything given directly would do more good. And I know you won't think I'm crazy for it.
Now I'm going to ask something from you, 2 things actually, please tell me if there are items I haven't thought of yet and when you reach a place where you can receive mail please send me an address because there will be a package on its way to you.
Many blessings sweet Ruthie, may you have a safe place to lay your head tonight. Thank you for inspiring me and thanks to God for allowing our paths to cross.
Yes, Rebecca...there is a God. And yes, my dear Readers...while I was composing this post, Rebecca was writing the above email to me. And yes, yes and triple yes...God knows exactly what He is doing.