Pilgrim Journal: Alabama; Stark Lessons (8)

The Good Samaritan takes the wounded man to the inn.

The Good Samaritan takes the wounded man to the inn.

For the incidents I recount here, I have changed the names of the people involved for the sake of discretion.

I was walking through the small North Central Alabama town of Jasper, when a woman and her young teenage daughter stopped in a battered old pickup truck to see if I wanted a ride somewhere. I told them I was just going to the library, so they hauled me in. As we talked about what I was doing, the woman, Karen, said she was going to talk to her husband and, if he agreed, would be pleased to have me stay the night with them. She got my cell number. Turned out her husband was quite enthused about it. Later that afternoon, they came to pick me up. I crawled into the bed of the truck and talked with them through the window of the cab as we went to their house.

The husband, Earl, was excited about my trip. Soon enough we pulled up to their home, a ramshackle trailer by some woods. Their daughter, Tammy, and two young sons, Billy and Joseph, ran out to greet me like a long lost uncle. Pretty soon Earl’s brother, Edgar, came over and we engaged in the amusement of the night – shooting an old .22 rifle at paper targets on trees. Tammy preferred the shotgun, as it was easier to hit the target. I will confess I was a tad nervous about what I had gotten into, but I told myself that I was in God’s hands and that He would deliver me nowhere He did not intend me to be (My top priority was to accept any reasonable hospitality or interaction offered, as I was convinced that God would teach me much of what I was to learn on this journey through my interaction with those I encountered along the way). While the evening recreation was peculiar, my new friends had no harm in them. Edgar had recently mustered out of the Army – less than a full hitch, but I did not ask details on that.

Throughout that evening – and the entire three days I stayed with them – Earl and Edgar regaled me with wildly implausible tales of their accomplishments and derring-do. For example, Edgar claimed he had won three Congressional Medals of Honor in Iraq, but did not accept any of them. Absurd, but they were completely serious. I kept quiet, figuring God wanted me to listen to the people He put along my way. Throughout my stay, they treated me as if I was a visiting king, and went to great lengths to make sure I was both comfortable and entertained.

The daughter, Tammy, vacated her bedroom that night to sleep on the floor so I could have a bed. I tried to defer, but when I did she was honestly horrified that I would think she would allow me to sleep on the floor. I was loathe to offend their hospitality.

The next day we talked and watched some movies from their DVD collection. Earl and Karen were a bit bitter towards Christians. They had been treated shabbily by their own denomination and – to my horror – said they had tried a Catholic Church, but were told by the priest early on that they were going to hell because of Earl’s dalliance with American Indian spirituality. I continue to hope that was hyperbole, but it left them both living an Indian spirituality and regarding God as best they could. I spoke to them of Christ and the authentic welcome they should have received by any who lived their Christianity properly. They told me that I was the only Christian they had ever known that treated them like real people…and Earl decided I must be a great shaman (an Indian mystic) and that what I said about Christ was true rather than what others had. Thank God for that, at least.

They got very excited because they wanted to take me to a karaoke bar that they sometimes went to, but had not been at for a few months. After I agreed, I overheard them asking to borrow $40 from Edgar to finance the outing. I took a walk in the woods to gather myself and choke back the tears so they would not know I had heard. We went the next night. Edgar watched the kids. Though I don’t care much for drink these days (as I did when I was young), I always like to have a beer to start if I am with people so they are comfortable and know I am not a religious scold. So I had a beer and then cokes. They were having a wonderful time and seeing people who they had not visited with in a while. It was marvelous and raucous.

The next day I had to move on. Before I left, I gave them a Rosary and explained how to use it. They were touched – and Earl went and got a small medicine bag to give to me to collect various things along my way. He insisted on giving me a ride to a road that would get me well on my way again. As we drove, he begged me to accept a .22 pistol to use as protection, but I was adamant that, for this journey, while I was ever prudent, I would trust only to God for protection – and that if I went beyond that, then I would be subject to harm. He actually cried, but accepted my decision. At a crossroads before a set of hills, we parted.

I often told the politicians and officials I advised that people just want someone to be their authentic voice, to keep faith and be true. I called my dear friend, Judge Steve McGlynn (who sometimes comments here) and told him I had been wrong – that much of it was more fundamental than I had thought. Many people just want to be noticed. Our bureaucratic state has given people a number and an officious social worker to care for their needs – and taken away their name. God always calls each of His children by name. The overblown stories, the great grace they showed me…all was an effort in an anonymous world to establish that their lives had meaning, to recapture a little dignity. My new friends could easily be dismissed as redneck rubes, the sort that many people would turn their nose up and not give a second look at. To my very deep shame, before I spent time with them, they were the sort of people I would not have given a second look at.

It was an emotional few weeks as I contemplated what had happened – and thanked God for showing me what an arrogant ass I was. What was even more horrible was that, until then, I had not even suspected that there was such snobbery in my makeup, even though it had been there all along. I prayed that the Lord would make me aware of those faults in me that were so well hidden that they were hidden even from me – and to see myself as I am, then to be a sign of His hope to all I encountered. The gulf between the greatest and the meanest of us in this world is merely an inch compared to the gulf of millions of miles between the holiest of us and God. If we are miserly in doling out the love and compassion to others that God has given us in such abundance, how can we expect Christ to say anything to us but, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” I still get misty when I contemplate this – and pray that the Lord will be kind enough to quickly show me such deep character defects in myself and correct them.

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About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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73 Responses to Pilgrim Journal: Alabama; Stark Lessons (8)

  1. Mark says:

    The hardest part of authentic humility is actually realizing (and only to a degree at that) that it is justified.

    Thanks,

    Mark

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Becky-TN says:

    Charlie,

    How beautifly honest. This is something I fear in myself – ALL THE TIME!!! I am suspicious of most people by nature. When I read Mark Mallett’s blog about Fear of Suspicion, I think he (Mark) was writing more of it about me than of the Holy Father and what’s going on in Church Hierarchy.

    May God teach me very soon, before the Storm, to love my neighbor.

    God Bless,

    Becky-TN

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fran says:

    Oh, Charlie. This shows one of the things that I love about you good Sherpa, and why I feel so at home here. My Good Jesus is still showing me all those dark corners of my soul with the words of wisdom I find here. I have misty eyes also after reading this because I know full well how I have not given some people “a second look” with my righteous and indignant attitudes. Dear Lord, please shine your Light into all the darkness still in my soul, and show me how I still do not walk with You.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Crystal says:

    Don’t you think that a lot of us react out of fear rather than judgement? I’ve been warned all of my life to keep out of harms way. I remember my Dad used to tell me as a young adult that If I missed an exit into Chicago and wound up on the Dan Ryan, to go all the way to Indiana and turn around rather than wind up on the “wrong block”. Since then, I have been in poor neighborhoods on the west side of the city and I feel fear because I am a white woman in an impoverished, African American neighborhood. In some circumstances (homeless shelters)I am well aware that the people are desperate and sometimes mentally unstable.
    I remember a time when I stepped out of my car to help serve at the homeless shelter on the West Side and one of the women standing in line asked me if I was afraid. Of course I said “NO!” but I was lying. It’s hard to be open and loving and still be afraid. I wish I could be better at it, like you are, Charlie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Connie says:

      yes, I admit that I have a ways to go with certaing groups of people. People who really are wounded, just as I am. But fear has colored my perceptions, and like Charlie, I want to remember that God will never put me in a situation that He has not allowed and if I remember to ask Him to show me what it is He wants from me or wants me to learn or know, THEN I will be doing His Divine Will, as Charlie did. Nothing grand but very well life changing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cristina says:

    That is a bit of heaven. Charity is God wherever it comes from. Great!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. audiemarie2014 says:

    This is a beautiful story, Charlie. I used to welcome everyone and anyone into my life, but after an “enlightening” experience, I am now overly wary of people I don’t know. I would like to find a balance, but really miss the old me in that regard. It is so true that people just want to be acknowledged and loved. I’ve been reading your posts and all the comments and my printer just arrived the other day, so finally printed off one of your posts for my son. Thank you for all that you and the other members here share. Oh, I wanted to be able to “like” the posts, so had to (re)register on wordpress and now I am audiemarie2014, formerly known as Audie, and before that, another Ann. (Or Columbo)

    Like

  7. Mary W. says:

    Thank you for the post Charlie. As I reached the end of the read, a daily prayer, which I learned from Mother Angelica of EWTN, came to mind: Lord, give me light to see my failings and the grace to correct them. We certainly need a cooperative spirit however when saying the prayer.
    God bless you !

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Fran says:

    This may be a little off topic, but I’ve been having a bit of a rough day today… struggling with different things, but in particular the “knowing” some of what is to come, the waiting, and wondering about what will happen to those I love. I don’t really care so much about me. It’s them. Although I’ve “known” something for many years, (since I was 13, while reading the book of Revelations about the seven seals, an interior Voice said to me ” You are living in these times.”) Since then I’ve often thought about how all of this is a cross really, and today I’m thinking of it and also how you, Charlie, have been carrying this for many years, knowing, watching, waiting. I would see how the world was affecting my loved ones, how some seemed lost, and feel anguished….”When, Lord, when will you fix this mess we have made?”, I would say. Now, the time is here. The prayer is being answered, and I am cringing. I know there is never any option but the cross, and You’ve given me crosses I never thought I could bear, and have been with me through them every single step. Life here always has the cross and ends in the cross, so why I am I still struggling to embrace it now? Still so much work to be done here, Lord, in my soul. Please help me, so I may be of some use to You. I just don’t want to fail you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      I understand, Fran. I’ve had a very long time to adjust what most have only a little time to adjust to. I was telling my brother, David, last night that though people might have a hard time believing it, the thing that sustains me is that, whatever happens, sometime in early 2018, I get to retire. Whether it is as someone who has done notably useful work and can start pushing to get the Shrine built or as a nut who could tell a heckuva compelling tale works either way for me. Come 2018, I’m outta here. You have no idea how that cheers me.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Bob says:

      Yes I understand the feeling. I was talking to friends last night and said several times that God is getting his winnowing fan out and part of me rejoices in the hope that things will get better and it will be easier for many to respond to grace and yet removing a cancer is painful as it feels like part of us even though it is killing us. And it’s removal is soo hard.

      Liked by 2 people

    • kathy kalina says:

      Looking back, I can see that I spent way too much time kicking my crosses down the road. Lately I’m being shown that embracing the cross is an act of sacrificial love, Sputtering out “fiat” to the will of God as presented by what falls into my lap is hard, but when it’s done for love of God and the people he’s given me to love, it brings joy in the midst of suffering (sometimes immediately!). I feel like I’m being given opportunities now to do this as “boot camp” for the storm, experiencing in real time how this works..

      I’m convinced that embracing the crosses the storm brings with sacrificial love will keep us focused in the right direction. Keeping our eyes on Jesus and the people He sends us to care for is the best recipe I can think of for being a sign of hope to those around us.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Andrea says:

    Hi Charlie,

    I’m so glad when people forget to look at the outside and take the time to see a bit of what is in the inside. My failing that I have recently become aware of is a severe dislike for technology. I would like to work in an office environment but do not have the knowledge of computers and I dislike what I see. I have always used mine for research only. A friend visited recently and even though she was on vacation her cell phone was not. I am 58 and believe I would be able to assist a company who needs good customer service but I dislike using a computer so much. Pray God will help me from despising/learning this technology, as it seems he is asking me to go back into the “work force” and I am so reluctant because I so dislike technology. I do like to listen/help people though.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Ha, Andrea, if you were around in the early 1500’s you might have been complaining that you love helping people, but these dadgum kids and those newfangled “books”…can’t even see where they’re going because their heads are always buried in those things. (I’m not really sure the word, newfangled, had been invented yet, but just go with it.)

      Like

  10. I am often reminded that we, the self-professed “remnant,” are in need of the Warning just as much as the world is. Let us thank God for little illuminations like this, and indeed seek them out like Charlie did by getting out onto the streets and being unafraid of what Providence may bring.

    Like

  11. Julia says:

    How lovely Charlie for you to experience the welcome of very simple people.
    I bet they will talk about your visit for a very long time. For you it seems receiving their charity and friendship was very humbling. And it would be fair to say you were touched by ‘Holy Humility’ expressed in brotherly love and brotherly charity, with no expense spared if they borrowed the money to entertain you. May God Bless and prosper that family.

    Like

  12. donna269 says:

    thank you Charlie….isn’t it wonderful how God presents us with our character defects and allows us to work on them little by slowly….like the peeling of an onion. However, I often find my sinfulness is like the Whack a Mole game…..the minute I push one down, another sin pops up…..Jesus, give me the strength to realize my sinfulness and ask you to remove it from me as it serves me no good.

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  13. Cecilia says:

    Charlie, this is so very beautiful, and makes me realize that our dear Jesus still has a lot of work to do in my soul. I have been working at our food pantry at our parish for 3 or 4 years, and I learned slowly not to be so judgmental at the first site of someone. Everyone has a story, and a broken heart, and whether they are in true need of food, they are always in need of someone showing them the love of Jesus. I believe our volunteers are trying to do just that more than anything else. When I see the street corner beggars, and it is possible, I often pull over somewhere and ask them to tell me their story and what is going on with them that they find themselves in this position. I have found they are always happy to share their stories. I used to be afraid to do that, and it was so much easier just to pass out a couple dollars out the window. I never do that anymore, so I guess Jesus is working in me. Thank you for sharing such a personal and moving story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kathy kalina says:

      The “laying on of the ears”, hearing the stories of suffering people, is as powerful, maybe more so, than “laying on of the hands.” I read somewhere that a traumatic event has to be told at least 7 times for us to process and “own” what’s happened. This is why people can’t keep themselves from recounting “illness narratives.” The illnesses of others are soooo boring, while ours are riveting! I’ve noticed these narratives contain precise details that are meaningless to the listener (names of doctors, names of tests, results of tests, specific dates, etc.) but very important to the teller.

      I’m guessing that in the thick of the storm, some of our most important work will be listening to narratives of loss and woe. Another opportunity for sacrificial love!

      Like

      • charliej373 says:

        You are very right, Kathy. Many I love, including family, will often tell me the same story 10 times, complete with details that have no bearing on my ability to understand the story – but it is needful for them, so I try to listen attentively. (Though when it gets to the 15th retelling, I start to get a little testy).

        Like

    • Fran says:

      I am shaking my head and chuckling to myself in wonder at how Jesus speaks to me. I hope Cecilia doesn’t mind me saying this, but she is my dear friend, and she often is an instrument of the Lord to many people, but especially to me. I have recently thought that I am being led to “find the poor”, not just handing out money, but something more, as she is doing now. I was waiting for the Lord to lead me more directly, and had some ideas, but now I have her testimony, Charlie’s, and even a couple of my own (teenage) children who have recently shared stories with me of them helping out a homeless person, and spending a little time with them. Also….I had a vivid dream in which I saw and heard the name “Catherine Doherty”. I remember nothing else of the dream, just that. The next day I see her name in Mark Mallet’s post! I had read a book of hers a few years ago called “Poustina-Encountering God in Silence, Solitude, and Prayer”. I was primarily interested in reading the book because of the idea of solitude in simple little out-of-the-way- cabins…that has just always appealed to me, like Thoreau. The book got read, and then put on a shelf where it has stayed, but now after that dream, I am reading it again, and I’ve gone to the Madonna House website, and lo and behold what do I find there among other tings, but this… “Arise — go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me.” Now, I can’t really sell all I possess now, it isn’t all mine to sell, one day though I may really be poor…but, I can be more detached and continue to give away that which I don’t need, and give more generously to the poor, but I think the primary message that Jesus is giving to me through your post Charlie, and Cecilia, and my children, and Catherine Doherty is “going to the poor, and being one with them”, personally, directly, acknowledging, sharing, perhaps bringing them a little dignity. People just want to feel like they matter! And how many times in the past have I put people that were dirty, disturbed, or seemed backwards and maybe “scary” to me in a category, perhaps calling them in my mind “unfortunate”, when all along… I am the unfortunate one? What a great and beautiful lesson!

      Like

      • charliej373 says:

        Catherine Doherty’s book, “Poustinia,” that you mention here, was one of two that I read during my final Novena in the mountain to end my pilgrimage. It was given to me by Lucille Dupre, who had spent several decades as Doherty’s main assistant before coming up and starting the Poustinia retreat in the mountains. The picture at the top of this website is of one of the late Sr. Lucille’s poustinia cabins, which I stayed in for three days after I finished my pilgrimage and before coming back into civilization.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cecilia says:

        Ah, but Fran, et al., lest you think too highly of me than you ought, I still get uncomfortable when the Lord presents these opportunities to me, and I have to work hard to keep those judgmental thoughts at bay. It is not second nature for me to truly share the love of Christ with some people, although I hope and pray that someday it will be. I just stumble along as best as I can. I do believe the Storm will have us side by side with those we would not otherwise choose to be with, a very good training ground for loving our neighbor. And isn’t that what it is all about, anyway? I love you my, friend, and all you wonderful commenters, and you too Charlie! I need you all!

        Like

  14. Hopenjoy says:

    Years ago when my sons were playing Little League, I noticed that the “cool” more affluent families sat in one area, while the “scruffier” families sat in another area…pondering it, I heard in my heart “Those are My people, be their friend” so since then I have always made an attempt to befriend and acknowledge the folks on the edges of school and sport gatherings…the single mom with the wild kids, the family with all the problems, the odd lady who dresses differently, etc. My sons always thought it was strange when we’d be somewhere, such as a public gathering or grocery shopping, and these “odd” people would come up and talk to me, they’d ask “Mom, how do you know THEM?”

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Ha, Hope. I have always been a bit scruffy. Once, when my son was in junior high, I went to one of his games when it was a bit chilly out. I had a beard then, wore a funky hat that day, a heavy overcoat and some old jeans. There was kind of a hill off to the side – and I often like to clamber off by myself. Some of the boys on the team started pointing out the “hobo” up on the hill – when Chaz told them, “That’s my Dad.” I guess if we ever meet, I’ll have to dress full hobo so your kids can ask, “where do you know HIM from?!”

      Like

    • the phoenix says:

      ” … the odd lady who dresses differently … “?

      * raises hand * You would likely be referring to someone like me. Though I prefer to call myself “eccentric” instead, actually. * good-natured grin *

      Anyways, I like your name, Hopenjoy!

      Like

      • charliej373 says:

        Ha ha, Phoenix, I once told a friend who said I was weird that I am merely eccentric. He grinned and said I would need a lot more money than I have to be considered “eccentric.”

        Like

        • the phoenix says:

          Your other option, according to society, is to become an artist. But isn’t being eccentric a form of being more true to your name, and being less of a number?

          Like

  15. johnmcfarm says:

    Beautiful story Charlie, God has given you much wisdom so that you are better prepared to help all…but I suspect His favorite are the least.

    Like

  16. ellenchris says:

    Thanks, Charlie, for another good lesson. People who have little are often very much more generous than those with a lot. I’d like to share something — Many years ago I was driving alone on the Cross Bronx Expressway when a chunk of metal flew off the truck in front of me and blew out my back tire. I limped the car up an exit ramp right into the middle of The South Bronx, NY which is so infamous (“Fort Apache”). I was asking God to send me some angels. I started to open up the trunk to get the spare tire when a Latino looking man came out of nowhere and said that he would fix the tire for me. “No, no, lady! I do it!” When he was done, I tried to offer him some money, but he was horrified. So I looked across the street at a bodega and asked if he would like a cold drink because it was a very hot day. He looked at me very intently and said, “You just pass it on to the next person.” When I went to open my car door and turned around, he was not anywhere on the street at all.

    Angels are messengers. Whether or not he was really an angel, he was a messenger. We are all in this world together. Hey, how about this one: Take the next right step — and pass it on.

    Like

  17. Bob says:

    and let us all pray we can learn these lessons. Once when my confessor confronted me on my pride I was later grateful to God that He gave me the ability to see it when it was pointed out. I thought of the Pharisees who were unable to see and were so close to being lost.

    Like

    • Bob says:

      I was thinking about pride again. several days ago I met several friends and we were talking of how the George Soros, Bill Gates and others with much wealth are not content with just making a lot of money but are deciding they know how others should live and use their money, power and influence to shape public opinions while we who have much less still believe we are better than others so easily and he too easily also believe we know how others should live, so pride is a fault we all suffer from and which God needs to refine out of us in His mercy.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Lauraelel says:

    The most horrifying part of the story is that Christians that these friendly folks had met were very poor ambassadors for Christ.

    Like

    • Carmel says:

      But note that God remedied the situation for those kind people by sending them an exemplary Christian – Charlie. God bless you Charlie!

      Like

  19. Mary A. says:

    I am so happy that you got to see these wild roses unfold before you! All the talk about self-improvement in self-knowledge is a lesser thing than the privilege of seeing the reality of these souls…what a gift! I used to be a caricaturist, and did “Kind Caricatures” and boy, just the loving attention for a few minutes changed people unbelievably. They use to tear up and hug me when they saw the picture, because they saw themselves a little bit as their Mama (or God) sees them. Everybody has a mother. Remember that when you are looking at the worst case/hardest case, and it just changes everything…

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Chris J says:

    Charlie

    I think this is what Pope Francis means when he speaks of going out to the “peripheries”, which he specifically says are not just to be thought of in geographical terms. Like the way he was accustomed to visiting the slums in Argentina.

    Sometimes I notice a bit of reticence on the part of Catholics to befriend a scruffy looking person as compared with someone relatively successful or attractive. Those who hold a high opinion of themselves often prefer and become animated by associating themselves with the “winners” of this world.

    I’ve had quite an unusual life which has brought me into contact with many peripheries and have often been humbled by the hospitality of the poor and insignificant souls, the “losers” of this world who extended a hand to me.

    Likewise, I’ve also been humbled at times by the haughty look of the proud.

    May the Lord continue to purify us and may those who have experienced so much rejection receive
    their vindication.

    Chris J

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-to-christians-lose-comfort-go-to-the-peripheries-82887/

    Like

  21. John says:

    I had a street beggar come up to me recently and I gave him a twenty (since that was all I had in my wallet). He then asked for my phone number so that he could repay me someday, I dismissed him saying that it was a gift. Later I read about Charlie asking the homeless woman to pray for him, bestowing on her a gift of recognition and dignity causing her to cry. I fear that while I helped this man with a temporal need, I failed in bestowing these greater gifts.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Well, John, maybe. But I do encourage people to reasonable prudence, also. I do not easily give out my phone number and certain other private information – and on my pilgrimage, I had various women who had seen me walking before I met them who apologized for not stopping for me earlier. I invariably told them they had done right – that the world is full of dangerous people these days and they must not risk their family’s future by getting into the habit of picking up random strangers.

      Again, I think there is a matter of balance. Neither make yourself prey to all (and there are plenty of predators out there – I met more than a few) nor close yourself off to others because of how they appear. Like other things, you just have to take the next right step in the moment. Personally, John, I think you did well.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Becky-TN says:

    Charlie,

    I received this today – Marian Concecration – to Jesus through Mary. I didn’t quite know where to post it on your site. It’s through Taylor Marshall – St. Thomas Institute.

    http://taylormarshall.com/2014/11/1-catholic-advent-devotional-33mary-com.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=1-catholic-advent-devotional-33mary-com&utm_source=Taylor+Marshall%27s+Updates&utm_campaign=432ca30a99-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_64accbc3c7-432ca30a99-59163457

    If you sign up, you will also receive his e-book about Christ’s Birthday. Fascinating read of his research that he concludes Christ truly was born on December 25th. Read it last year.

    God Bless,

    Becky-TN

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Now I find that interesting…as my angel once casually told me that we had stumbled, quite by accident, on the actual date of Christ’s birth to celebrate, but that it happened three years earlier than we generally suppose it.

      Like

      • Becky-TN says:

        Charlie,

        If you get the chance/time, you need to read it. It’s truly fascinating!

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          I appreciate it, Becky, and I may – but through emails and such, I am now getting on average five books recommended to me every day. I will probably just stick to my regular program. I mean no offense to someone when I don’t read the books they recommend to me, but I need to stick to my schedule, I think.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Becky-TN says:

            Well, having the Angel Gabriel tell you about Dec. 25th pretty much covers needing to read it in my book. Nope, stick to your schedule…which I hope includes some rest.

            As always, thanks for everything Charlie. Most esp., your “yes” to the Father to guide us. You didn’t have to, but you are anyway. I don’t really think any of us will really know what that means until we, God willing, meet on the other side of the Storm or in Heaven.

            Like

          • David says:

            Keep being honest, Charlie, our world needs it.

            Like

  23. Irish7 says:

    This is truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. I also like how you emphasize balance and prudence in your comments. It is such a gift to learn from your stories and experiences. Hopefully your retirement will still allow for storytelling. 😉

    Like

  24. Matthew says:

    Father, forgive us for we know not what we do!
    From my hidden sins save me O Lord!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Sue says:

    Charlie,
    I have the opposite problem. Having grown up a poor country kid and bussed into town to go to school with rich kids, I learned very quickly that I was different in a way that made me unacceptable. For many years, I did not realize it was because we were poor, so I took it personally. To this day, I struggle with pride and envy, and trying not to hold grudges. People can be so cruel. The Lord, with his great sense of humor, has placed me in a position where my work entails catering to the insatiable acquisitiveness of very wealthy patrons. I see how they live, and it overwhelms me with contempt. I am a hypocrite, and I know it, I have my own deal with “too much”, so I am hardly in a position to judge, but I do. In part, it is due to the rudeness I encounter almost on a daily basis, which increases my tendency to tar everybody in that demographic with the same brush. As I do not wear a uniform, my profession is not immediately apparent, unless you happen to look in the driveway at the truck with the flashing lights. Thus, people come to the door reluctantly, (making for a nice cold wait, I might add) give me a guarded, or openly derisive look, then when they realize I am delivering one of the many goodies they have in the pipeline, the weakly apologize with “Oh, I thought you were selling something.” This, after I have been on their doorstep seventy five times.
    Yesterday, I was forced to go to the door of a family I sarcastically referred to as “the Gettingtons”, as it is a rare day I don’t have something for them. The father had falsely accused me twice of not delivering something I had in fact delivered (too much to keep track of physically, so he goes online looking for delivery scans instead, meanwhile the stuff was at his house). Anyway, he answered the door, and I fully expected scorn and derision, since he had contacted my employer to complain recently. Instead, he was polite, but seemed distracted, very jittery, he gave off this nervous, obsessive compulsive vibe that really threw me off. I got back in my truck and I thought, maybe the man really is sick, maybe, like me, he can’t help himself, and just keeps doing the same thing looking for some kind of comfort. Suddenly, I was not angry anymore, having seen some humanity where I was sure there was none. Sadly, I still have a long way to go to let go of all my prejudices, deeply engrained as they are. I can still be mad at the guy down the street, literally. I think my progress in this regard happens on a one to one basis, although I wish I could just be at peace with the world and everyone in it, as God expects. Then I came home and read your post, and just had to laugh, and cry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      There are several components in this sort of reaction, Sue, some innocent, some corrosive.

      First, we naturally identify with those with whom we have the most in common. My Dad’s best friend was a black man named Rose (short for Roosevelt). Once when the three of us were riding together, Rose commented that he guessed we were all a little racist…that when he saw two football teams play that he didn’t much follow, he would root for the one with the most black players. I told him, nah, that was just identity, not racism. I asked him if he watched an all-white team play an all-black team and my little brother, David, was on the all-white team, who would he root for. “Why, I’d root for David’s team,” he said immediately. Then I asked, And if those same two teams were playing, but David wasn’t in football and your son, Greg, played for the all-black team, who do you think Dad would root for?” Rose shot out “I know who he had BETTER root for,” while Dad snickered like Hillbilly Bear. The point was, we all look for a point of identification and take up the closest we can find – and that’s not racist. It actually is a key to forming communities, provided we use a hierarchy of identity and don’t define too narrowly. We understand the travails of other who are like us more easily than those who aren’t.

      But there is also reverse snobbery, common to many who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We can look with the same condescension of the well-to-do as they look at the poor, assuming a moral superiority to ourselves that may or may not exist – and we take very little pains to understand or contemplate the problems and sorrows they may have – some of which are created by abundant wealth. In extreme cases, a great irrational resentment or a smug holier-than-thou attitude can take hold. This is actually quite revealing, for it shows that, even though we don’t have temporal wealth, it is what we covet and value. I have been friends with a few very wealthy people who were not materialistic – and have known a few very poor people who were pathologically materialistic.

      It is hard to reach out beyond what our circumstances are and I don’t know that anyone completely transcends it. I like being a bit scruffy – but a little shameful pleasure I have always had is when someone who is very elegant and a bit arrogant decides to give me the benefit of their superior wisdom. I have long since gotten to where I don’t cut them off at the knees, but I do get a thrill of visceral pleasure when I see in their eyes the recognition that they have bitten off more than they can chew and entered dangerous territory. There is something savage about it. That is why it is good to be deliberate, don’t assume you know facts not in evidence, give people an honest chance, try to empathize and know yourself. Then know yourself – including your irrational self – and compensate for those flaws you have and can’t quite eliminate.

      Finally, do your best to see as Christ sees, knowing that we are all His children and that He wants us to have peace and joy through Him. It can be easy to see Christ in the poor and hard to see Him in the wealthy sometimes…or to see the hurt and brokenness that arrogance and condescension often hides. But I sure do know what you are talking about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bob says:

        And a really sad thing, I think about people with so much wealth, and earlier today I mentioned a conversation I had with my friends about Bill Gates and George Soros, is that with so much money and influence, it is probably harder for those of wealth to humble themselves and to admit they are wrong before God if they are, than for little me with my little social work salary!.

        Like

        • Becky-TN says:

          Bob,

          God Bless you for your work. Keep the faith and keep fighting for those families you are trying to help.

          God Bless,

          Becky-TN

          Like

      • Sue says:

        The reverse snobbery and holier-than-thou is right on the money, pun intended! Behind all my peevishness is a pride which does not want to serve, and be looked down on by another, so I get defensive, looking for flaws in the other which will “even the score”, so to speak. And it is something that operates automatically, at a subconscious level, and I don’t even catch on until I am in the throes of it, or after the fact when I ruminate on how the day went. This conversion business is hard work!

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          You’re well ahead of the game, Sue. You see it for what it is – a flaw and a temptation.

          Like

        • Becky-TN says:

          Bob & Sue,

          I know of some people who are wealthy and feel guilt because of it. They are good people and do much to help others. I try to remember that God entrusted His dead son’s body to a very rich man, so they must not be all bad.

          I understand what both of you mean esp. you, Sue. I was one of those kids that grew up on the “wrong side of town”. It hurts to feel like you don’t belong. Interesting thing though (and so sad), so many of those families I envied as a child ended up with some of the saddest stories of suicides, addictions, etc…. We’re just all so broken.

          A lot of the world is about to be on a very even playing field. Let keeps heading to Heaven together.

          God Bless,

          Becky

          Liked by 1 person

  26. jaykay says:

    “They were having a wonderful time and visited with people they hadn’t seen in a while…” Well, your presence with them helped them do that. And probably they splashed out, in their terms. But they enjoyed it and had something to look back on, the man who shared their little, which they were glad to give, even in their want. If I could say, Charlie, it’s how to do the “Trust, Do, Love” because you were anxious, obviously, but just offered it up. You have really walked the walk there. You gave them dignity, I think, which is so important to those who, in the world’s terms, have very little.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Bonnie C says:

    So funny to think about how Charlie must have felt when the guns came out. Like, waiting for the banjos to start playing. No small amount of noise from that shotgun! Ouch.

    Charlie, my husband loves to dress scruffy, too. He has an old rust bucket truck that he doesn’t take too far, but on any given day, besides the dirt that’s always inside and out, there would be a log chain, jumper cables, scrap metal, bale of straw, pop cans (in or out of the bag because if he saw a straggler, he would pick it up) in the back (or inside, too). He too enjoys being underestimated. Especially loves playing chess or checkers with someone who underestimates him. Anything strategy. I won’t ride in the truck. Haha.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Ha! When I was young I was legendary for my insane mastery of the board game, Risk. My friends would beat me and declare world peace – and consider it victory for all if their combined efforts overcame me. Once my brother, Jerry, brought a buddy home when he was in the Navy. The buddy was kind of a goof, a bit of a jughead. So we all played Risk. His buddy whomped me bad. I figured what the heck…weird things happen sometimes. We played twice more. He stomped me badly both times. It was bloody. The guy was brilliant, innovative, masterful feints. He was truly a Risk savant – and I was bettered. It was very valuable – I learned to make assessments, but NEVER underestimate anyone.

      Like

  28. Ann S. says:

    One of your best stories, Charlie. Reminds me of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, showing the underbelly of human nature. From the title I sensed something terrible would be revealed, and what a twist, to see the real danger is in us!

    Like

  29. Connie says:

    That is a good thing to remember for good or evil, in the future; don’t write anyone off….
    I do have to say, Charlie, that all during reading the history lesson you gave us recently, I was thinking of that old game Risk the entire time! As for stories, like the one above, I have to agree with Ann S. Reminds me of a book a long time ago which I forgot was about but the title intrigued me “The Book of Paradox” but the meaning of a paradox- that still intrigues.

    Like

  30. MM Bev says:

    I don’t mind in the least if this is deleted, Charlie. I know that it is more than is needed to know. What I am blown away about God giving me a gift I didn’t know existed and my overwhelming gratitude for it. Once the color is off, I will be much more “presentable” again. But I can still walk on both sides very easily and know in a way I never dreamed possible what the “other side” was like, and how in many ways they are much closer to God than many of us are.

    Like

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