Friday, December 26, 2008

"True religion is this: seeing to the needs of the widow, the stranger and the orphan."

I expect to see more couples like this in the coming months, a couple I saw sitting on the side of the highway near San Solomon Springs, windburned and disheveled.

They are from Grand Junction, Colorado, "more or less homeless now," and hoping to hook-up with a friend in Fort Davis before moving on in whatever direction the wind blows.

I didn't pry. But my reserved demeanor had been affected by the immediate moments prior to meeting them.


I had just come from a ranch house under construction where I had gone, quite shyly, to express my condolences to a new arrival in town, a woman, who I knew from the internet news-feeds had just lost her husband the week before Christmas. He died on a camping trip in the Davis Mountains. They had only recently moved here and were building a home for semi-retirement. It is a very sad and tragic situation and I felt tremendous empathy for her.

The unfortunate widow at least has the support of a very beautiful, protective and loyal dog as well as a close friend who is now staying with her, supporting her through this traumatic Christmas. They don't know anyone in town and yet I felt so very powerless to be of any use and regretted that my visit may have appeared intrusive. Nevertheless, she very graciously granted me the honor of expressing my neighborly duty, sharing a brief moment of grief before I respectfully excused myself leaving her to her privacy.

As I was leaving, I saw this couple by the side of the road sitting in the tall grass.

I have my own loses with which to contend. Perhaps that is what has been driving me lately to such heartfelt compassion for so many others now suffering.
I dropped the dogs off at the house and came back to give the couple a ride to Fort Davis. It's only 35-miles away. The dogs had behaved badly at the ranch and I did not want them to harass this couple as well. It was getting near dark with a cold front on the way.

On the road, we chatted about the economy, about being homeless, jobless, about politics and UFOs. We arrived in Fort Davis at sundown, having basically scared ourselves all the way through the mountains talking about the bleak prospects of finding work (I am unemployed, too) and I dropped them off at Baeza's Grocery among a bustling crowd that was in and out preparing for supper. They at least had money for groceries.

Just on a whim, they let me take a picture -- one of today's shared moments. On the way home, I reflected on grace and prayed that others would be there to catch me if I fall. My God, these are my neighbors. This has been a very sad and lonely Christmas.

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