That would be weird on it's own. But then on my way to St. Maries I saw this same man in the red shirt, lying in the middle of Highway 5 just east of Rocky Point. I mean literally in the middle; I had to swerve to miss him. Fool. Just what that sort deserves. Think if I had swerved too hard and been in a wreck! I, a respected lawyer and state senator, put in peril by a drunk. Probably purchased his booze on unemployment checks.
So here I was driving down Highway 5 between St. Maries and Plummer. I was running a little behind to get here in time, but I figured if they had the snow cleared off of Highway 95 I could make up time between Worley and Coeur d'Alene. Then I come around a corner, and there is this guy laying in the middle of the road! I was able to miss him, but it gave me a scare. Did I stop to help him? What? And make myself even later for the pastor's conference? What would I have done, brought him here? Tell me that wasn't a serious question.
A few weeks back I had one of those interesting life moments. I was up in Idaho for the last part of their deer season. I was hoping the get to my spot before ten and set up camp, but with it snowing the night before I was running behind. Then I come around a corner in the highway and there is a guy laying there in the road. I found the closest pull out and ran back to check on him. He was still alive, but wasn't in good shape. I couldn't tell if he had been hit and then laid there for hours, or if he had laid there for hours and eventually been hit. It didn't really matter. Cell service down there wasn't good enough to get a call out, so I pulled him into my truck and took him to the hospital in St. Maries. I stayed with him all day. They told me they'd probably release him the next day, so I went down to the motel and reserved a room for him for the next week, and went over to the grocery store and bought him some food, then left a little cash on the table in case he needed anything else. When I stopped back by a few days later, he was gone. Left a note at the front desk that just said, "Thanks neighbor."
Many of us are familiar with Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan. I tried here to retell it in a modern light (obviously all the people in my story are fictitious). My apologies if the geographical refrences are obscure to you, a quick trip to Google maps can fix that.
If you aren't familiar with this parable, you can read it here. The background is this. A lawyer comes and asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies with a question, "what does the law say?" The man replies, "love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus tells him that's a good answer - and then this guy knows he's in trouble, because he doesn't love his neighbor as himself. So he begins to squirm. "Who is my neighbor?" the man asks. Jesus, again not giving him an easy answer, tells this story. After he concludes, he asks the question, "which one of these guys was a neighbor?" The lawyer, of course, realizes that the Samaritan (or in our case, the Californian) is the neighbor. The one who shows mercy is the neighbor. Jesus tells him to go and do likewise.
This is interesting on multiple levels, but here is what screams at me. The man wants to know who his neighbor is so that he can get by loving as few people as possible. Jesus tells a story about what a neighbor does and tells him to do that. Jesus' answer to, "who is my neighbor?" is, "be a neighbor."