Janet and I left Carmel this morning, heading east to West Virginia and the Greenbrier. If you have read TBTB for any length of time, you know that our stays at the Greenbrier are somewhat frequent and other than our own home, there’s no place in the world that we like better. We always drive – never fly – and today was no exception. Of course, most of the time we have our regular routine but today we took an alternate route, staying a little farther north to avoid some of the flooding that has plagued Kentucky and other nearby states.
It rained pretty much the whole time (that’s about 7 hours of drive time) and while we don’t mind the rain for most of the trip, it does get a little tricky south of Charleston, WV. For some reason, it seems that the lanes are just a little narrower and there are some pretty severe curves on the WV Turnpike heading south to Beckley. We experienced the same kind of traffic today – heavy trucks barreling down the road and people familiar with the landscape driving faster than I was comfortable. Through it all, everyone was kind and patient – the way we have become used to being treated in West Virginia. Even the folks tending the tollbooths are incredibly friendly.
After that stretch of road is behind us, we always look forward to stopping at Tamarack, a building that houses a collection of West Virginia artisans who sell their wares near Beckley. We always stop and browse the items created by the artists. Sometimes we buy stuff – sometimes we come out empty handed. But we always enjoy the experience of seeing what is there.
Today, as we pulled up to the front of the building, a tour bus was parked, waiting for the passengers to finish their shopping and return to continue their journey – wherever they were headed. It was nice to see so many people buying souvenirs and supporting the artists. We went in to pick up some coffee and a snack – and then walked around checking out the new items since our last visit.
As we were getting ready to leave, we pulled out of our spot and were heading out of the parking lot. Folks were returning to the bus and in the middle of it all, I couldn’t help but notice a group of people shuffling along behind two women who were obviously taking a little longer to get back to the boarding location. Then, I noticed one of the women with a red and white cane, while her companion was hunched over and it was apparent that she suffered from some malady that prevented her from moving any faster. Behind the two of them, a group of people patiently waited while the two elderly women made their way to the bus door.
Frankly, it was quite a sweet scene. Two infirm people, each helping the other to accomplish their common goal. One blind, one pretty crippled, but together you would think that they could overcome any obstacle. And it was so representative of the people of this beautiful state – always extending a helping hand to each other; and to complete strangers as well.
This evening, after we checked in and ate supper in our room, there was a knock on the door when our room service attendant anticipated that we would be finished with our dinner. He didn’t want us to have to deal with dirty dishes and timed his knock within a minute or two of our completing the meal. I was trying to help put chairs back and it was apparent to me that he wanted to serve us – he didn’t want me lifting a finger to “do” his job – even if I thought I was helping. That’s just the way people are out here – the most helpful people you could ever run across.
The Bible is full of examples of Jesus dealing with people who had all kinds of problems. The verse for tonight highlights the story of a man who was blind. Jesus came to the man’s aid and Mark tells us that the man’s faith healed him. We are told, in Mark 10:46-52, “Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Notice that the man followed Jesus. That’s another strong trait in West Virginia. Many people follow Jesus – and it shows. My encouragement this evening is that we can all learn more about mercy, kindness and grace by following the example of Jesus and many of the people who were healed by Him. My prayer is that you will look for opportunities to reach out and be the hands and feet of Jesus as you go about the everyday activities of your life. It’s such a joy to see how people can work together for good instead of reaching out to hurt each other. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…