Unlike being a writer cramped up for hours in a room meshing ideas to create a novel with characters made up in their heads, a journalist gets to be a bit closer to reality. In this blog, I thought I might tell a story about one of the hundreds of interesting people I have met throughout my career.
It all began with a phone call at my office when I was working for a small newspaper. I answered my desk phone to a voice that informed me of a man on a bridge riding a mule while leading another one trailing behind him. The person said that the man might make a good story. I was intrigued.
I jumped in my car and headed for the location of where the caller said the man was located. I ran into the mule man approximately a mile from where the caller said he had been riding. My initial thought as I approached him was more of curiosity than interest. Why would anyone be riding a mule anyway in this modern age, I thought and then asked him. A few words of small talk and I became very intrigued as he began answering that question.
It turns out that the man was on a journey of faith after finding his world shattered. After his wife left him, he loses his job only days later. He comes home to find her and many of his belongings gone. It was a wake-up call that it was time to find out what his life was really all about. Looking around his aging home in need of repairs in south Texas, he felt an emptiness which prompted him to act. It was an idea I think many of us have at times in our lives…to just walk away from everything and start fresh. He acted on it though.
He gathered up what few items of value he still had left, including his work truck and sold them. He then contacted a man who had mules to sell and purchased one to ride and one to haul the few items he would need to survive on his journey. The only modern convenience he took was a cell phone in case of an emergency. He left his home in early spring with very little money and as much food for him and the mules that the mules could carry.
When I asked him how he planned to survive. He simply said, “God will provide all my needs”. Indeed God had! When I met him it was mid-summer he had already been traveling a few months. He had never gone hungry or grown ill, but the miracle is what he told me next.
Motorists everywhere along his journey were always stopping him and asking about his journey. To the modern world looking at him, he must have seemed to step out of the Twilight Zone from another period in history. Once he explained that it was a journey of faith, they were all eager to help. Many would give him money, though he never asked for it. If they were to ask what he needed, his reply was always a prayer.
The incredible outpouring of roadside assistance, if you will, overwhelmed him. People would open up their homes to him for a good meal and a hot shower. Others would see him on the road and then wait in town for him to pass through where they would give him supplies, food, and even clothes. Some would even charge his cell phone and then return it to him. He was not a beggar as he did not ask for anything. He simply allowed God to work in the hearts of others for his benefit. Everything that was done for him without him asking was another example as to why God should be glorified. He was learning day by day that God never forsakes His children. Even when our current world falls apart, He is there to help us build a new and better one for ourselves.
He was trekking it up to one of the states around the Great Lakes area (I forget which one) to visit his mother. He was hoping to make it by Thanksgiving to surprise her. I would find out later that he did make it but not before the holiday deadline. He called me after reaching his destination. He gave me his mother’s address and asked me to mail him a copy of the paper since he had to be moving on before it published. He relayed to me that he had a feeling to call me upon his arrival and let me know he had made it. I had wondered often over the following several months after meeting him if he had completed his journey. Tired and sore, he had made it. Only now he had a much brighter perspective on people and a great found respect for the Creator.
I chose to tell this story in my blog because I too feel that writing this blog is a journey of faith. Like the man on the mule, I am also searching for answers to questions that are elusive to me. And like him, I have found that there are people inspired by God’s grace to interact with what I write. Although I am still on this writing journey, the destination becomes ever so clear as I now know that I am guided by faith. Sometimes God speaks to us from a mountain and sometimes from atop an ass.