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Sheila Garrett's Pilgrimage Journal, Part 3

Sheila's Piligrimage Journal, Part 3

Some grains of salt, musings and stuff from incredible connections with strangers.  Am I blessed?  Sure looks like it from here. xxx, Sheila

Each step of this journey is somewhat unexpected.  I feel very blessed to have been taken in by strangers and to have been with friends as well.  As I sit I remember to take time to pray, especially since I didn't share prayer time with Susan (Williams -  who took me in when Frances got the flu).  We talked about meditating together but it just didn't happen.  One very interesting part of my visit with her was our discussions of faith.  She doesn't 't think of herself as espousing any particular faith but if she did it would be Hinduism.  She has spent time in southern India and has a son in law who is Hindu.  She's also a student of Taoism and is familiar with Sufism as well.  I'm amazed that my intentions to do interfaith visitation have happened so spontaneously.

11/5,6  I spent two days and one night with Connie and Bob Garner, members of Branon Friends Church.   I had emailed the contact on the BFC website and Connie and Bob offered hospitality, southern style!  They welcomed me into their house, fed me awesome food (the best cherry pie ever), took me to meeting/church at Branon Friends Church in Yadkinville and drove me around showing me Bob's family place and the back country roads.  I realize that I've longed to do this for years, ever since I traveled through the south on my way to FL, wondering what life was like off the highways.  Now I know some really wonderful people who have welcomed me back any time.  We did a little referencing of biblical passages about welcoming strangers and other things, like Cor. 'many gifts one spirit,' when Connie was saying she could never do what I was doing and I said she was doing what I couldn't do.  It was great to be talking Bible talk in an easy friendly way.  As Connie and I hugged goodbye in the bus station I said, 'You know that part where it says something about maybe the strangers are angels? Well it didn't say that the people welcoming the strangers might be angels,too!'  We both almost cried and both said 'I love you .'

An excerpt from an email to Frederick - I never got to Celo tho' I did talk a couple of times with folks at AMS and w. Gib Barrus.  Because  Frances had the flu I just couldn't swing getting up there, close as I got.  I spent  two days with Susan Williams in Hendersonville being very well cared for and making a new friend.  She's thinking about moving back up north so we may see more of her in the future.

AND I did go to Branon Friends Church in Yadkinville and spent two days in Statesville with a couple, Connie and Bob Garner, members who took me in and held me lovingly.  It was amazing.  After two short days we got very close.  It was a mutual ministry that is rare and beautiful. I hope some time if you come down you can meet them and go worship there.

Connie and Bob dropped me off at the bus station in Winston-Salem.   While waiting I spoke with a man who told me he was homeless because he'd been in prison.  He asked me could I help him and I offered him food.  Gave him almost half my bread and the muffins Susan made.  Tried to give him p'nut bitter but he didn't want it.  I laughed and teased him about needing protein.  We had a good exchange, talking pretty normally and he said it's hard because people won't do that, just get scared and want to get away from him.  He was unusually calm for someone homeless, in my experience, didn't seem mentally ill or anti- social or pushy.  I wonder how much of my 'luck' is just treating people normally, engaging them as I would anyone, not acting suspicious or defensive.  I imagine that might be refreshing if one is used to being rejected.

 I took the overnight bus to Cordele (thru Atlanta) where I was picked up by David,  another guest from Koinonia.  I will be here at least till SOA Watch and then probably go to Florida.  Hope to be back up north for Xmas.

11/7.   5 AM Sitting in the Atlanta bus station waiting for priority boarding to Cordele.  It's dirty, crowded, cold with bright fluorescent lights and the worst food I 've had in ages.   I was eating horrible breakfast and there was a young guy sitting at the same table with his head down sleeping.  The woman from behind the counter came out and hassled him and a couple of other guys who were using chairs and sleeping up next to the wall.  She told them to sit up, that I was eating.  After she left, i leaned over and said, 'Sorry you guys, it wasn 't bothering me.'  The one sitting next to me said, 'No problem', like he appreciated that I spoke to him.  It felt good to reach out and empathize.  It's such a grim environment, it's good to be able to just say something nice.  

Greyhound is a pretty level playing field, leveling everyone down to the bottom - cold metal chairs, lines of people waiting for the next bus, piles of suitcases, bags, yellow plastic cones, flashing game machines and lots of yawning, tired travelers, more black than white.  I enjoy and note my white, upper middle class, northern white privilege, sensing that the caution and visible fear that Susan expressed as well as the totally white make-up of the Brannon Friends church speak of a part of the south I cannot really know.  I get to be the naive northern WASP progressive who isn't intimidated by interacting with folks in the bus station. I'm just tired and grubby like everyone else.

A slight unleveling was that I paid an extra $5 for priority seating so I didn't have to stand in line for an hour.  Sat talking for about half an hour to a young  African-American man who was curious about my IPad.   I told him about my journey, explaining a little about Quakers.  He asked me a bunch of questions, seeming to be confusing Quakes with Amish.  I assured him I don't ride around in horse and buggy.  I told him about Quakers opposition to war and to slavery but that not all Quakes were as good on that as some people think.  I did tell him about John Woolman refusing to wear cotton, eat sugar, etc.  It was neat to have that chance to tell some stories.