Amy was heading south. We were going north. Both of us hoping to escape the smoke from the fires in our respective areas. Along with hundreds of other people from all over the place, we all lodged at the same place. The Oxford Suites in Pismo Beach, along the Central California coastline.
Amy sat beside us around the fire pit. I had done the same thing about 30 minutes prior. It was there a met John, Shawna, Greg, Jeff and their collection of kids and grandkids. They were from the Central Valley where smoke from both fires settled and stayed.
Amy came alone. But my wife and I learned she was traveling with her 78 year old dad and 15 year old son. I also sensed she packed a lot of baggage that she had been carrying since her son was born early after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in utero. Fresh out of college, her son came into her life around the same time his father left.
As everyone retired for the night and went back to their respective hotel rooms, I sat with Amy and my wife, and talked until the propane tank ran out of gas. And then we talked some more, long after the hotel manager rekindled the fire with a new tank.
Most of what I learned about Amy I can not repeat without betraying her trust. I can say she’s 44, single mom, and works doing behavioral therapy with preschool kids in the Head Start program. She has a good understanding of life, but just doesn’t like the way life works. I understood her completely. She also loves Michael Franti, who sings about...love.
Amy has kind eyes that both tired and compassionate. She has a warm smile that is also tired and compassionate. And a gentle heart, which I suspect is tired too. But compassionate.
Off Highway 101. In dog friendly hotel. We shared our hearts. We shared our faith. We shared our fire. As the Spirit of love burned warm and brightly. Some strangers pass like ships in the night. Then there are the other ones. Like Amy.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”