The fellow walked straight at me. Not sure if he just happened to be passing, or was this an opportunity? He queried, “Mind if I walk a bit with you?” His name was Larry, I was excited about the chance to walk with someone and talk. Not since running with Chuck and Watt had anyone accompanied me for even a bit. The road is long, having someone to converse with is so pleasant. Larry said, “I’m a handyman, and there isn’t any work. I’m thinking about setting out like you in three years, and I was wondering if you could give me some pointers?”

I told him of my pilgrimage, the others that I had met, Bob Linz, Scaughdt, and the Peace Pilgrim. I told him how I had used my own life as a guinea pig to test the assertions made by the avatars of old to see if what they suggested was of use. I told him how I had been to a mormon church recently, what I had learned from studying a bit of Buddhism, Christianity, Lao Tzu, and other writers secular and religious. He told me how he would go and yell at pastors for being “of the world”, and that no one was doing what Jesus said. He said, no one knows what I know.

I said, “I have found in my experience that all these fights over religion, cosmology, and doctrine really only seem to ostracize groups. I have found that focusing on love and serving one another is the only thing that matters.” He argued saying that Satan and the world were getting to me. I said, “Let’s not worry about that, why don’t you and I go see if we can find some kids to love on. Let’s go serve someone. Help an old lady by staking some wood for her.” At this he started to tell me that I was going to hell, and I was misguided and a deceiver.

I asked him, “What was the number one commandment of Jesus?”

He replied, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, love your neighbor as yourself.”

I replied, “Larry, you are not making me feel loved, but rather condemned. Your words, in my opinion aren’t intended to love me, but hurt me. I feel hurt not loved.” “When you yelled at those pastors, do you think that they felt loved by you?”

To this he said, “I’m just trying to plant a seed.”

I replied, “The seed I feel you have planted is one of division and condemnation. Jesus said, ‘You will know my disciples by their love for one another.’ When you condemn me to hell, I don’t feel loved, but judged.”

“Well then, we leave here as enemies!” He replied, “For you are a deceiver, and you are leading people astray, therefore you are my enemy.”

I called after him, “Larry, let’s not leave under these terms, come on man, give me a hug. I love you.”

“NO YOU DON’T!” he yelled.

“Please man, I love you,” I said my heart breaking, and with that he turned his back and walked away.

My heart ached. Had I been confrontational, had I hurt him, was I responsible for this outcome? The road allowed me to meditate on this for a long while, and I was very upset. Was I hurtful?

I went to bed that night still not at ease. However the next morning as I walked out of the desert, I noticed something. I noticed a tent and a baby buggy beside it. I said, “Good Morning!” and I heard the same in reply. In the midst of this huge desert, I had found camped not an 1/8th of a mile away from me, Nick and Sam. Nick and Sam are walking across the US as well. They just happened to camp in the same desert, at the same access point. They just happened to have been on the road 6 months, just crossed the 3000 mile point, and they just happened to do about 25 miles a day as well. They just happened to have a stroller, eat pop tarts like they are going out of style, wear similar running clothes, and even wear the same kind of shoes. Most importantly, they are on a mission to love as many people as possible.

They walk from town to town, and at every chance they do charity work for different organizations. They are doing what they can to make world better. You can find their website at:

www.makestrides.net

We sat and talked for about 2 hours. We laughed about all the things that we understood all to well by now. It warmed my heart to really have someone who could relate and understand EXACTLY  everything that I’ve experienced. It was so wonderful to see someone else doing what they could to love on others. It was such a huge difference from what I’d experienced with Larry. These guys renewed my spirit, and put wind in my sails. I said, “I wonder if my friend Steve in Safford would be able to host you for the night, and perhaps my friend JC could work out having you speak at his school as I did?” They intern offered to have their friend Deborah host me in Duncan.

As I walked on I was sooooooo happy. I began giving thanks and gratitude to the universe for this wonderful wonderful experience. I began thinking of all the people who have encouraged and supported this trip since the beginning. I began thinking about my friends Susan and Winnie and how they have helped me so much, and I thought about Scaughdt. Scaughdt really was such a help in formulating the mental aspects of this trip from the beginning, and I owe him so much. The day was so beautiful, cold enough not to sweat, but warm enough with the suns rays to go with only shirt sleeves and shorts, and so beautiful.

I got a call from Deborah, and she offered to host me and feed me in Duncan. Deborah is absolutely amazing. I knew after just a few moments that she was going to be one of my favorite people along this path. I began to tell her about the other amazing people I’ve met, and I began with Captain Rainbow. To both her and my shock and amazement, Deborah knows, grew up, and went to school and lived with Captain Rainbow but has lost contact with him for nearly 30 years. Wow…small world. As she dug out pictures of them in high school, I told her of all the other amazing people I’ve met.

She like Captain Rainbow had lived all over the world. She formerly was a television producer, and she used her skills to produce videos in Russia, Mexico, and all over Africa to help the plight of women and to combat misinformation about HIV/AIDS. She has single handedly led a charge to clean up Arizona’s wild rivers, and she runs a Bed & Breakfast in Duncan that takes in strays like myself, Nick, and Sam.

Deborah in turn told me of the reason that she moved here to Duncan. She is a devout and practicing Buddhist, and she helped set up a ranch here called the Iron Knot Ranch. It is a Buddhist retreat with the largest prayer wheels in the world. It is one of the 3 most holy temples to Buddhists in the Western Hemisphere. The prayer wheels were made at the behest of the Lamas in Tibet, and an anonymous donor paid for it all. The prayer wheels are over 20 feet tall, and are kept turning by solar power. Each wheel contains trillions of prayers, no one knows how many, but a lot.

Deborah asked me if I would like to go and stay there. Of course I said yes! She is now in process of gaining permission for me. We will see if it happens. But, what a magical day yesterday was, and what a gift. Meeting with Larry was a gift too, and I am grateful for it. I got to express love to him, despite him calling me his enemy. I offered to prove it, even though he didn’t accept…that is all I can do. With humility though I wish I would have run after him gave him a hug and really loved on him despite his protest.

It seems that many of the Christians that I meet are very intimidated by me. It seems because I at least try to do everything that Jesus said, that they feel somewhat convicted…or challenged. Proving me crazy, a heretic, or an enemy seems far simpler than picking up their cross and doing what they can for love, compassion, and peace. Perhaps this is good? Jesus was hated by the Pharisees, scribes, and the Sadducees because he challenged them to live love, rather than live the law.

“If”, as my friend Scaughdt has said many times, “Loving everyone is going to send me to hell, so be it. I will be there with Gandhi and Buddha, loving on everyone there.” More noble words are hard to find…or live.

Love, Peace, and Art to all.

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