“I would rather be happy than dignified.” - Jane Eyre
“Pride must die in you or nothing of heaven can live in you.” - Andrew Murray
I arrived in a New Hampshire town looking to find an aspect of the local community that is unique. I had been working my way down the last stretch of the Maine coast the two days prior, and during my first two days in the town I had not been able to find a shower. Usually there is a YMCA, a truck stop, a marina or a campground around, but even with some searching nothing was showing up. I asked one fellow about it and he said you can get showers at the Salvation Army. He said you have to be there between 7 and 9 am, sign in on a sheet and you get 15 minutes to use the bathroom. So I woke up Monday morning with the intentions of going there, but found myself procrastinating.
I let it pass – and now I find myself five days without a shower. I am getting a bit ripe. Later in the day I stopped in to a fitness center to see if I could use their showers for a couple of bucks, but they wanted $10. I didn’t have that much money so I find myself heading into my sixth day without bathing.
So I wake this morning and am going to head over to the Salvation Army, but again find myself coming up with excuses not to do it. I dismissed whatever was bothering me and headed across town.
When I arrived there was a check-in sheet, and as the Salvation Army’s mission is to feed and bathe people before they try to help them further, there were some of those “street people” about. But that shouldn’t bother me – on the road I interact with street people all the time. It wasn’t until I actually went to sign the sheet that I realized what was bothering me – I didn’t want to be seen as “one of those people.” It shocked me – I thought I was beyond such notions. And here I was ready to pay several dollars for a shower when one was to be had for free.
I got my shower and hung around to interact with “those people” for a while. One of the guys tells me that this area is renowned for its pottery makers and there is a show this week. He gives me the name and number of a fellow who he claims is one of the best potters in New Hampshire, if not the nation. Talking with someone else it turns out that this morning there is a meeting for local folks trying to broaden their horizons and improve themselves. They find out my background and the next thing I know I am invited to be the speaker at this meeting.
After the meeting I find myself spending an hour talking with the Captain of this Salvation Army branch. It turns out she is a fourth generation “soldier” in this work - her great-grandmother, her grand-mother, her mother and now she all have committed themselves to helping the least fortunate in their communities. I further learn that her sister and brother-in-law are involved in several great new Salvation Army projects in Boston, where I intend to be in two weeks. Once again, the doors open up to new contacts, I meet some new friends and I am directed toward two new subjects to learn about.
In the process of all of this I am handed a few slices of pizza and given a whole apple pie. I am eating that pie as I write this. So I guess the moral of this story is:
Judging people and being prideful stinks, but getting over my fears is sweet.
Today, may I be who I am.