this year, my family and I decided that this would be the summer to make
an extended trip across the country. Instead of flying to our usual
family reunion in the East, we would drive, taking seven weeks to visit
new as well as familiar places, remember old times and make some new
I had worries about undertaking such a
long trip ... not because of the time together in the car, or whether my
son would be a responsible driver, or whether we would run out of money
(my son might differ in his experience of my level of concern).
No, I worried about what people would
think of us, that we would be exposed as being on the wrong side of the
political color wheel, that new barometer of acceptance: whether you are
red or blue.
As we started our travels in our
beat-up station wagon, filled to the brim with camping gear, food,
clothes and piles of my knitting projects, I feared that we would
somehow be found out: that as we journeyed across the South, into states
tinted much redder than the indigo blue with which I fear I am
permanently stained, that folks would force us to turn around at the
borders, denying us passage.
Guess what - never happened, not once,
ever. With smiles and welcomes, people had the desire to share with us
whatever they had, regardless of how we appeared.
In Arizona, we were led by a Native
American gentleman into sacred lands to see dinosaur tracks. In
Louisiana, we were given an impromptu tour of the alligator nursery at
the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge.
In North Carolina, a woman stopped us
in the parking lot of a grocery store to wish us well and suggest that
we take the Blue Ridge Parkway on our trip north - one of this country's
most amazing highways, twisting and turning its way through the peaks of
In Mississippi, a laundromat owner
kindly opened up early and set up a table and chairs so that we could
eat our simple breakfast in style.
In a recent sermon, my pastor asked the
question, "Where did you see God today?"
Using a phrase that he had heard from a
church member, who had learned it from her grandchild, he urged us to
spend time each evening pondering where we had seen the light of God in
the people around us.
His question reminded me of my trip. As
I traveled, instead of the false labels that have been forced upon us by
those who wish to divide us, I saw people of all different races and
beliefs, who through their giving and generous hearts, shone in God's
I saw through these simple acts of
kindness God's love reflected.
At this time of giving thanks, might we
ask ourselves, "Where have I seen God today?"
Eliza Drummond is a member of First Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ) and serves as secretary of the Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries
board. This column is coordinated by TRIM, a network of more than 35
religious traditions in the Eugene-Springfield area. For more
information, visit www.interfaitheugene.org or call 344-5693.
FROM HEART TO HEART