July 30, 2014
It was supposed to be chore day. I told Kenzie that we would do a little laundry, shake out the rugs, sweep out the cabin, and then go into town for some groceries
Well, the laundry got done and the rugs got dragged to the deck before those plans were dust in the wind. That is just the way some days are. Someone says good morning with a British accent, and you are compelled by some unknown force to just let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be.
My new British friend, James, unlike the others, was coming down the trail, heading to Damascus from Atkins, Virginia. It is about a 75-mile hike, so he had been at it for a while. He had spent the last two cold nights in shelters with some AT hikers and appeared to be over it.
I offered James some tea--because I assumed that is what any good Brit would drink in the morning--but he surprised me by requesting a cup of coffee. Coffee? I had not made a cup of coffee in a very long time, but I somehow managed to serve up something that did not resemble sludge--which is more important than you may think since I poured it through a cobweb on the top. When will I learn that cabin living means you check the cup before you pour?
From my vast experience of getting to know hikers on the Creeper Trail, I can tell you that it takes time to uncover the fascinating in a person. James is a very fascinating fellow. If he had stayed ten minutes, it would not have been enough time to find that out. Even one hour would not have been enough time to find that out. It took a couple of hours to peel back the layers of this young man.
He is in the United States because something popped up on his Yahoo news page one day about a program called Workaway.
From the Workaway website:
“Workaway.info is a site set up to promote fair exchange between budget travelers, language learners or culture seekers and families, individuals or organizations who are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities. A few hours honest help per day in exchange for food and accommodation and an opportunity to learn about the local lifestyle and community, with friendly hosts in varying situations and surroundings.”
James made connections with people in many different states before leaving the UK and has been "working" his way around the country. He has lived with all kinds of people and has done all kinds of work. I met him today because he took a week off to take a long walk--I mean, a hike.
He started his trek in Boston, and from what I remember, he has traveled to Manhattan, the Catskills, somewhere in Pennsylvania, somewhere in West Virginia, and will finish in New Orleans after a few more stops.
He just completed his university studies in illustration, and will be going to London for some more schooling when he completes this trip. He is an amazing artist. I mean amazing. This kind of amazing:
You don't learn these things about a person in a ten-minute visit. It took time for him to realize that I cared to know about his art. It took time for him to become comfortable talking about his experiences. So I took the time, for him and for me.
It's a win-win situation when opportunities like these present themselves. I am able to validate these amazing sojourners and encourage them to keep going--if only through my interest in their stories and enthusiasm for their adventures. In exchange, I am validated and encouraged to keep going, to keep showing myself friendly. Proverbs 18:24
I am getting better and better at weaving His story into the conversations. Hikers have a lot of time to think, so I try to give each of them something to contemplate when they leave the Little Cabin on the Trail. I try to plant a seed or water a seed, trusting that there will be harvesters up ahead.
James left me with a lot to think about as well. We discussed the impact social media has had on this generation. We discussed the growing desire by many for simplicity and how this hike and his entire trip has confirmed the beauty in the uncomplicated. He shared his concern about returning to his "other" life. He recommended some books for me to read.
I enjoyed getting to know a young man from across the sea on a day I planned to do chores, a day ordained by God that our paths should cross.
In my guest book, James wrote, "People like you restore my faith in humanity."
People like James restore my faith in a God who is intimately involved in our lives, a God who knows our coming and our going.
May his journey be blessed.
You can read about AT hiker, Chef John Wayne, here.
You can read about AT hiker, Spectrum, here.