On Saturday, my daughter and I decided to take the day off of housecleaning and homework and set out to hike Craggy Pinnacle. I’d not taken her on this trail since she was a baby, and as I noted the other day, it was a family favorite for me as I was growing up.
At the base of the pinnacle is a welcome center. We pulled in so I could take a couple snapshots before heading on up to the parking lot of the mountain. Hayley noted she wanted to stay in the car so I left her and the dogs in the warmth of the Subaru and headed down the sidewalk. As I turned around, I saw her coming towards me. I asked her if she’d locked the car, and she said yes. I asked her if she had the keys, and she said no.
And that is where the lesson began.
Fortunately, one of the windows was cracked a bit so we could inch our fingers inside and pull the window away from the door just enough for me to try to get my arm in. I was able to slowly make my way down, but my arm was not long enough to reach the lock.
As we stood there, several people walked by noting to us that we’d locked our dogs in our car or that there was no cell service to call AAA. In an effort to model lovingkindness and patience to my daughter, I smiled and nodded–all the while, the hot flashes building up inside me.
Thankfully at that point, two good old country boys in their 20s pulled up by our car. They jumped out and asked if we needed help, and with grateful smile, I sighed, “Yes.” And so they set to work.
As they disassembled the truck’s antenna and dug through the interior for other “tools,” they chatted with us like long time friends. We smiled and giggled and patiently worked our way through the experience. Finally, the tall, lanky one offered to see if his hand could fit in, and sure enough, “YES!” Our door was open.
I thanked them profusely and reached out to shake their hands, but they both reached out to give my daughter and me hugs. Aaahh–what a gift! Before they left, they asked me which way to Boone. You see, they had taken a day off as well and been at Mount Mitchell. Unfortunately, however, they had come down the Parkway in the wrong direction–opposite of Boone. As I set them right on their journey, I thanked them again for setting us right on ours.
When we arrived home that evening, I began working on my prayer and welcome for the Sunday service. I meditated on our theme for the next day–generosity. I could not have asked for 2 more generous spirits to take time out of their Saturday afternoon to help our stranded family.
Then it dawned on me–generosity is critical to our sense of community. Without our willingness to share time, talent, and resources, we can’t build community. It is generosity that compels us to help others unconditionally without expecting anything in return.
In that moment, I looked over at my daughter and said to her, “You know, we experienced a real gift today. Those two guys who seemed so very different than us were not so different after all. I hope you’ll remember that as you get older–you are connected to all kinds of people not just because of where you live or what you have in common, but also by the way that you treat each other.”
And so, every time I look at the Blue Ridge Parkway sticker we purchased for our car, I will remember the silly mistake we made, the smiles we shared, and the community we built on an unexpected journey through the mountains of WNC.