I have been re-renovating our camper as of late, and in the process I was reminded of an incident that occurred several years ago right after we purchased the old thing. I wrote about it then and wanted to share that story again because I think the lesson in it is timeless.
Mary and I have always loved camping. It doesn't really matter that much to us whether we head to the beach or the mountains, we simply love the feel of camping along with the almost instant camaraderie that develops amongst the tent, popup, trailer and fifth wheel folks. Even the land yacht people say "Howdy!" when you pass by. It is almost as if social strata doesn't exist. It is truly wonderful. There are no liberals, no conservatives, no Catholics or Protestants, no rich or poor, no black or white. It is just us folks.
Refreshing is probably the best way to describe the feeling one receives upon setting up the camper, the grill, the picnic table and the canopy, lowering the stabilizers, hooking up the water, the electricity and the sewage pipe all the while swatting a newly graduated class of mosquitoes. Yep, it must be the camaraderie.
Mary and I have owned several camping contrivances over the years. Like most folks we started tent camping, moved up to a pop-up, elevated ourselves to a pull behind, got uppity and bought a fifth wheel, uppity again and bought another fifth wheel, sold that so Uncle Sam could have his pound of flesh, and we are now on the far side of the hill working our way back down.
A few years ago we purchased a 1976 Avion LaGrande camper. It is one of those pull behind aluminum jewels. Truthfully the craftsmanship is first rate. That being said, it was built the same year I graduated high school. I'm not saying that it is all that old, but like me it did have an issue or two when we bought it. One of those issues was a broken vent cover on the roof.
One day, when thunder storms threatened above, I had to do something to fix the cover quickly to prevent a leak. So I gathered up some duct tape, thank God for duct tape, and a plastic garbage bag.
As it turned out I had no ladder with me; so with an agility that belied my age, I climbed to the top of the camper Jackie Chan style. I stepped on the tongue, then up on the propane tank, then on to the top of the front window awning and then to the summit, the top of the camper. I quickly taped the plastic bag over the broken vent turned around and realized, much to my dismay, that while coming up was pretty easy, getting back down was well neigh impossible. You see the curved side of the camper aided in my ascent but made my decent treacherous to say the least. I was in a pickle.
It was a pretty day though, exclusive of the thunder and lightening, so I just sat up there on my perch and thought for a while. Finding no solutions, I thought some more. When I began to fancy that I would remain up there imitating the Sphinx indefinitely, a pickup truck happened by.
Having his interest peaked by the sight of my new found treasure, the driver parked by the curb and came over to take a look. Apparently he had not seen me because when I said "Good afternoon", that he was startled would be an understatement. He recovered quickly though.
He was about my age and apparently seeing nothing unusual about me sitting on top of the camper, he proceeded to tell me of an old Airstream that he was fixing up, left to him by his father. That familiar camaraderie came into play quickly after that.
When I sheepishly told him of my plight he laughed, as was his right and then he parked his truck right next to the camper, climbed up on the roof and helped me down.
I never asked his name and he never asked mine. I don't know if he is a Methodist, a Baptist or an Episcopalian. I haven't the foggiest idea of his political views. What I do know is that he had a Dad who loved him and passed on the love of camping, and I know that he helped me out of a tight spot.
My prayer is that as a Christian I leave similar impressions behind when I depart. I pray that folks don't remember my politics, that I was Methodist or that I fail to think ahead from time to time. My prayer is that folks remember that I lived my faith, and that in a tight spot I offered a hand when it was needed. When comfort was called for, I offered a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. I pray that folks see Christ in my actions more than my words, and I pray the same for you.