I’m back! The Grand Canyon was astounding, as always. The trip didn’t turn out as I had hoped, and I imagine I’ll be gleaning bits of wisdom from that for a while. Some of them I will share with you, as vacations can be very condensed versions of life, and we might as well learn from everything! Today, though, I start with a bit of gratitude and a lot of surprise connection.
You recognize two of the people in the picture above: me and my wife Ann. It is possible that you’ll recognize the third. He is a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy named Jeremy. The picture was taken about a mile and a half down the North Rim trail. Ann and the two other people with us had run out of water, which is a dangerous thing in the desert. I was walking ahead of them and then stopping and waiting for them, rationing sips from what I had, in hopes that it would be enough to get everyone safely out.
I met a man along the trail and shared our story. (You know how people raised in New Orleans talk with everyone.) This man shared that he had an extra water bottle buried in his pack that he hadn’t touched. He offered to share with them. He volunteered that he was totally vaxed. After we exchanged names, I asked him where he was from.
Me: “No!? Me too. Where?”
Man: “A little place close to New Orleans.”
Me: “Wow! I live in New Orleans!”
Man: “No way! I’m in River Ridge.”
Me: “Amazing! You are our trail angel today. And our neighbor!”
Man: “I don’t know about angel, but I am a JP sheriff’s deputy.”
Me: tears up a little. Somewhat awkward silence.
Me: “I don’t know how to thank you enough. May I take you to dinner when we all get back home?”
Man: “I love to eat!”
So we have a dinner date coming at my cousin Katie’s restaurant, and we talked about Brother Martin and De la Salle and Grace King, and Ann and our companions drank deeply of the life-saving water he offered.
This stranger named Jeremy, who happens to be our neighbor in real life, gave some people in need exactly what they needed. If he didn’t literally save their lives, he came pretty close. Which is a pretty good way to think about what Grace Lutheran might offer neighbors in ministry.
Pay attention. Be generous. Be grateful.
And always carry more water with you then you think you will need!
Grace and peace,