It’s been a bit of an overwhelming week for me. In the midst of it all I’ve been reminded of what really matters in life. The One who gives meaning to us all and loves us more than we’ll ever know. My thoughts this week have led me to remember something that happened to me a few years ago that has had a profound impact on my life. Something that continues to inspire my creative soul, and I hope it will yours.
I experienced a miracle on a mountain. Two women—Opal and Adelaide, left an indelible mark on my soul of what it means to love. Their kindness and hospitality will never be forgotten, and I hope someday to show that same love and kindness to someone else.
It all began on a hot, humid day in western North Carolina, near the Smoky Mountains. I was driving up a rural, winding country road trying to find the location of a friend’s wedding that would take place the following day at a stable. After inputting my destination into my GPS, I followed a series of turns that led me up a mountain, passing a few homes nestled on the side of the wooded mountain. I had been driving up the mountain for about five minutes at the respectable rate of 25 mph in order to handle the sharp curves when all of a sudden my car broke down and steam came pouring from the hood.
Luckily, I was on a road that had a shoulder I could pull off onto—not! I had stopped right around a sharp curve with no way to get over or to warn people who might come up around the curve that I was stopped. Oh well, I thought. I hadn’t seen any traffic on the road so far, so I figured my chances were pretty good that nobody would be coming around the bend anytime soon, except maybe one of the few residents who lived on this mountain.
Panic started setting in a few minutes later when I realized that I had no idea where I was in order to call for help to come. It turned out not to be a problem because my cell phone had no reception on the mountain. Yep. I was stranded, lost, and had no way of calling for help. I felt like I was on an episode of 24, except I didn’t feel as cool as Jack Bauer.
After a few moments of panicking, an SUV with an old “John 3:16” bumper sticker rounded the bend behind me and a woman named Opal, asked if I needed help. It turned out that she lived farther on up the mountain road but knew a neighbor who lived a few yards from where I was. She took me to the neighbor’s house where an extremely hospitable and kind grandmotherly woman named Adelaide let me come in and use her phone to call for a tow truck.
It took several hours that afternoon to finally get a tow truck, but in those hours I witnessed a generous love poured out on me, a complete stranger, by two women who flipped through three phonebooks and made several calls for me trying to find help. I can still hear Opal’s voice repeating over the phone, “We got a young lady who’s car broke down over here at Adelaide W——‘s house. Do you think you could send a wrecker out today?” I’m sure Opal had plans for her afternoon, but she put them all aside to help me. Unselfishly.
Adelaide was in the process of making an apple pie when I showed up at her doorstep, but that didn’t matter to her. She welcomed me into her home that afternoon and told me to make myself comfortable on her couch. Waiting for the tow truck, we all talked about our families as if we knew each other well—we actually found out we had an Indiana connection.
During this time, I couldn’t help but notice how my feelings of panic and fear melted in the warmth of two strangers’ love. Both women repeated how they wished they could help me as we sat waiting for the tow truck to arrive. They didn’t understand how much they had helped me. Not only did they help me out of my difficult situation, but they helped me realize what it means to share loving-kindness, and to extend extravagant hospitality.
All that they did for a complete stranger. And I am forever grateful.