“I love James Taylor,” she said as I gratefully stroked her Taylor guitar. “I got to go to the Taylor Guitar Factory in California,” she added after I told her that my favorite guitar is a Taylor. Her bird was perched on my shoulder bobbing his head in time with the music…thankful for the melody. Thankful his momma was home.

“I work at a University in Monroe,” she said extending her jaw forward. She said it as any southerner would, with a “u” rather than an “o”, and ending it with “woe” sound. Mun-rowe.

“At night I work at a country music radio station, or I play free gigs with my band, whose name evokes images of Danny DeVito in drag. We play strictly only 90’s songs, a lot of Grunge and alternative.” She then took the guitar and played me some of her more soulful side. Deep penetrating lyrics she pens on her 30 minute commute to work. Songs that speak of wondering if being lonely at 2am and single at 30 is a bad or a good thing?

Sara is the person that everyone confides in…and tells their secrets to. The first person that a gay person in the Bible belt comes out to. Sara is the person who listens to a girlfriend till three in the morning when their heart is breaking, or when they have been dumped. Sara is the kind of person that always keeps a spare bedroom and fresh towels available if friends need to crash or stay for a night, a week, or a month.

Sara is the one you can depend on.

She is very intelligent. While on the debate team in college, she earned a communications degree, paid for with a full academic scholarship. She returned for a master’s in British Literature also by scholarship, because she felt that was the best way to learn to write. She puts what she has learned into her music, and in so doing, gives her soul voice.

I drew Sara and her friend Nic yesterday in a Starbucks. Even though we had only been talking for a few minutes, Sara invited me to stay, drove me around touring the town, and took me to her favorite bar for dinner and beers. I didn’t ask, but she and Nic fed me, filled me, and entertained me.

I asked them both if they would rather I not wear my “Peace Artist” tunic. I always ask. I figure that is the most compassionate thing to do. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable. But, they didn’t care. “If people have questions, I’ll tell them to just talk to you,” Nic said.

As the moon slowly crawled across the sky, I was invited into one conversation and then to another. By allowing people to ask me questions, I also got to hear their stories, their lives, their successes and failures. I even met some track athletes and coaches and exchanged techniques and approaches for coaching and running. I met artists, lawyers, musicians, scholars, teachers, and coaches. I met all of them, all that the town of Ruston had to offer, and they all were extremely kind.

Sara came and checked on me every once in awhile. She would float in to our conversations, see that I was all right, and then float away again. The gracious host, she wanted to make sure that I was happy, content, well cared for, and I was able to give the same to others. And, should I need her she was there.

Sara is not a timid girl, she is brave. When she retired to her room, and I turned off the light near the couch, I thought how fantastic it is to have people like Sara in the world. A person who trusts strangers. A person who expects the best from people.

I met another woman recently who told me be careful out there, there are bad people in this world. All I could do was just have the greatest compassion for her. Here was a person, living their life in fear of the next person who will hurt them. A person that has been hurt so bad before by someone she trusted, that every human being is a potential bringer of pain. There is no relief from that shell of a life until you forgive, until you have compassion upon your assailant, and realize they are just so lost, and worthy of love.

Sara is the type of woman who will give you the benefit of the doubt. Although her parents divorced when she was 13, her parents are the best of friends now, even though her mother remarried. Her father is family, and the man she always knew he was. As such he is still at every family function.

I think that is why Sara is the best person she can be. She like everyone else has been hurt, but she chooses to believe that all people are good…even if they sometimes make bad choices.

Sara allowed me to paint her as she filled the air with songs of sorrow, loss, redemption, forgiveness, and love. I said to her, “You play a lot of sad songs,” and smiled.

“Yeah, sorry,” she replied.

“No, I like them, it is just that I feel bad for the people that wrote them,” I grinned halfway.

Sara loves. Sara realizes that sometimes sorrow is better than laughter. Sometimes, when the face is sad…the heart maybe happy.