The Travelling Companion

a short and truthy story by Patrick Kennel
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I’m hitchhiking. I’m dropped off in the Smokies. A 60-something year old man in a red, top-down Jeep picks me up. I’m going to visit a friend in Florida. He asks me if I want to drive awhile. He compliments me on my capacity to drive a manual. He asks me to be his traveling companion to the Northeast on a business trip. He knows that I am headed to Florida but is willing to give me 100 dollars a day to go with him. Simply to be a traveling companion. That is all. I think about it. This is crazy, but I decide to do it anyway. After all, I am on an adventure. I can always say no. He asks me would I like to see any place along the way. He thinks I would like Asheville, North Carolina. I say that I’ve heard good things about that place and that I have wanted to see it. I’ve heard people like me like it there.

I drive to Asheville. We are talking about things along the way. It is nice to drive the Jeep. It is nice to drive at all. We get to Asheville, he finds a camping store. We go in. I love camping stores. He offers me anything I want. I think about this and I think understand how gifts work. I am a little bit scared. I am a very grateful but do not need anything, thankyou. He buys some things. A tent, some sleeping pads, I think. He talks about maybe having to camp. Seriously, anything at all, he tells me. Anything I want, it’s a true gift, no strings attached, he tells me. This is hard for me. I decline his offers.

I have my guitar with me. I would like to busk on the street for a minute. I play some songs on a bridge. No ones listens.

We leave Asheville, North Carolina. It is insisted that I continue driving. He thinks I will like driving through the National Park. We take that route. It is nice to drive through the National Park. It is getting late. It is dark. He thinks that this is a good place to stop and camp. I think that camping here with a man who does not know me but yet has asked me to be his traveling companion and furthermore has offered to buy me gifts is likely not a good idea. I tell him I don’t like this spot. We keep going. I don’t like any of the spots. We have now driven out of the National Park. He thinks we have missed out on our opportunity to camp and that this is sad. I think that such is life. He thinks we should probably look for a hotel because really it is late. I think this is a good idea. We spot a hotel and stop. He goes in to get a room. I collect all of my belongings into my duffel bag and grab my guitar and go in. I wonder if he has requested a room with two beds. I cannot contemplate a valid reaction is there is only one bed. We get to the room. There are two beds.

He wants to talk about how nice the day was… how important chance opportunities are. I want to go to sleep. It is late and it is a good idea to go to sleep. We go to sleep. I sleep lightly with my hand clutched tightly around my 4 inch gutting knife unsheathed under my pillow. I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of him moving. I crack my eyelids just enough to see him. I tighten my grip on my knife. I see him in only his old man’s white underwear. He moves toward my bed. He passes my bed and goes on towards the bathroom. I wait. He returns to his bed. I am not sure whether or not he used the bathroom. I contemplate going to sleep. I have heard about “sleeping lightly” in the movies. I never actually believed it was something people did in real life. I sleep lightly for the rest of the night.

The next morning is awkward. I think we exchange some conversation about his waking during the night, or my not waking during the night. He is driving today. I tell him that I think I have to end our traveling arrangement and continue to Florida. He thinks I should continue with him. I think I should continue on to Florida. It’s not that I don’t want to go along with him, it’s more so that I just think I really should stick to my plan. He understands. He wants to make sure that I’m sure. I’m sure. He tells me a story. He tells me he was in the Army. He tells me he was in the Army with a very, very good friend of his. He tells me he visited his friend after they got out but that it was different then. He tells me his friend eventually died of a disease that at the time only young men were dying from. He tells me he went to his friends funeral. He tells me he was not welcome there. He tells me that he does not know which is sadder, to love someone who does not love you in return or to be loved by someone whom you do not love in return.

I do not know either. I tell him that seriously I would like to be dropped off now. He thinks that this isn’t a great spot to thumb a ride. I think it is.

He pulls over. I get out. He insists that I take the 100 dollars I have earned by being his traveling companion for one day. I do not want it. He insists I take it. I do not want it. I think I understand how gifts work. He thinks that he truly wants me to have it. He is pushing a 100 dollar bill towards me. He looks sad. I take it. I consider this my gift to him. I get out. I say goodbye. He tells me he lives in the French Quarter in New Orleans and that I should visit him. I tell him thank you for telling me that. He pulls away. It is hot and dusty on the side of the road. I feel dirty.

I hate the 100 dollars in my hand. I hate the entire last day. I hate that I believed that he just wanted to give me a ride. I hate that I went with him even though he offered to let a complete stranger drive his vehicle. I hate that he was an old wrinkled man driving a young man’s vehicle. I hate his New Orleans accent. I hate how disgusting he looked in his white underwear. I hate that he told me that story. I hate that I didn’t get out earlier. I want it to never have happened. I want to be where I would be right now if I had never stepped into that Jeep. I want a different adventure. I think that I need a new plan.

I have a friend in Raleigh. I had told him that I might be dropping in on him. I get a ride that way. I get dropped off at the city limits on the corner of Hope and Fear. I can’t seem to get a ride any further into the city. I think people don’t pick up hitchhikers in the city. I start walking.

I see a bum on a stoop. He wants to talk to me. I sit down and listen to him. He tells me a story. He says that when he was young he was scared and unhappy. He was angry a lot. That was a bad time. He says it was that way until Jesus came to him a dream. He says Jesus came to him in a dream and told him that it was all going to be OK. He says it wasn’t a dream like the way I’m thinking. He says it was real. He says it was actually Jesus. He tells me that ever since then he has been different. He tells me he is happy now. He tells me that no matter what happens he is happy now. I like this story. I give him the 100 dollar bill. He asks me if I’d like to walk to the liquor store with him to get more of what he is drinking. I do. I go to the store with him. He buys liquor. We go back to the stoop. We talk for a little. I must be off. He thanks me for the money. I tell him that I think he was supposed to have it.

I walk back to the corner of Hope and Fear. Someone stops. He tells me that he saw me earlier. He tells me that he had had things to do and that he had gone and done those things and then he had decided to come back and to see if I was still there and to see whether or not I still needed a ride. I tell him I still need a ride. He asks where I am going. I tell him I have a friend I’m visiting in Raleigh. He happens to be going toward there. I wonder what things he went and did. I ask him if he minds if I close my eyes and rest a bit while he drives. He doesn’t mind. I close my eyes and rest a bit while he drives.

Beginning a Dialogue on “Faith is Based on Knowledge”

My friend Jason and I were discussing the question “what is faith?”  In response, Jason sent me this article by  Andrew Wommack entitle “Faith is Based in Knowledge.”  to ponder.  Here follows my response, which is more so simply the beginning of dialogue about the article.  We simply need to define a few terms before we can begin.  Note: having read Andrew Wommacks article is a prerequisite for understand the below questions.


Dear Jason.

Thanks for sharing article.  I’ve read and re-read it several times and have tried to come up with with a response or some rebuttals and further  questions, but I’m having a little trouble and I was hoping you could help me out.

You see my problem is that I can’t quite figure out the exact message of this article.  I mean, I think I can re-iterate the message in words, but I’m not exactly sure what to do with it, I’m not sure how it applies to my life.  The author uses a lot of phrases which I assume I am simply just unfamiliar with the definitions thereof.  So maybe we could start there and just help me understand some of the commonly used terms, so that I can get the gist of what he is trying to say.  Make sense?

Definition #1: “The Word/God/Jesus abiding in someone”:  So, the first phrase that I’d love to understand more is “Abiding in the Word, which is Jesus” or conversely “God’s word … abiding in us”.  I like the sound of those statements, and in fact, I’ve heard them a lot in my upbringing as a Mennonite, but it didn’t occur to me until just reading this article that I actually have no clue what it looks like to have [The Word/God/Jesus] abide in me or conversely for me to abide in [The Word/God/Jesus].  So thats needed definition #1.

 

 

Definition #2: “Faith”:  Secondly, faith needs definition.  In this article, the author uses the word faith quite frequently in such ideas such as (I’m going to paraphrase as indicated by the tilda) ~”faith is something that is necessary to please God”, ~”it is a state of being which you can either be in or not be in”, ~”it is an (I assume observable) outcome of abiding in the Word”, ~”it has laws, or rules associated with it”, ~”anyone can have more or less of it”.  Unfortunately the author does not go so far as to say exactly what some of the qualities of faith are.  So using inference I can roughly conclude that faith is 1) something you can have and possess 2) you can observe whether someone has it or not 3) having it is the same as operating within it. Perhaps there are other conclusions, I just may not be capable of drawing them yet without further definition.  But basically, #2 definition is exactly what is faith?  How can it be described?  If we want to attain, certainly we should be able to at least give a rough definition of what it is, because without knowing what we are striving for, how will we measure whether or not we have arrived there?

 

Definition #3: “Carnality”: The word carnal is used several times throughout this article.  When the author says carnal I typically think of big cats such as lions and tigers running around tearing the flesh off of antelopes or other such savannah ungulates.  However, I bet that this is not what the author is really trying to say, because most people don’t behave like that, nor are they tempted to.  So, I wonder what thoughts, what desires, and what actions can be classified as such “carnal” thoughts, desires, and actions.  After all, if we attempting to avoid carnality in total, again, lets define it so that we know we are avoiding it!  Likewise, it would also make sense to define carnalities opposite, which I assume from the usage in this article is “spirituality.”  So, for definition #3 (examples are welcomed), we could either define carnality or spirituality, but lets just call it carnality because thats the counterpart that the author references the most in the article.

 

So.  I think that once we define these three terms we’ll be in a much better place to discuss the point of the article.  Although I said earlier I don’t get the point, I think I can still sum it up if I go ahead and use the above terms without further definition.  I’ll try to do that now, and please correct me if I’m wrong.

The main point of the article:

Persons should live in Faith.  Faith is both a state of living and a thing can can be gained.  Faith is be gained by hearing the Word of God.   The Word of God is spiritual knowledge and it not carnal knowledge.   Whether or not a person is living in the state of faith can be verified to be true if they are abiding in the Word.  Likewise, living in faith is directly opposite to living in carnal knowledge and any person cannot exist doing both things at the same time.  Therefore at any given time all persons are either living according to spiritual knowledge or living according to carnal knowledge.  Those living in spiritual knowledge should continue to do so.  Those living in carnal knowledge should cease doing so and begin living in spiritual knowledge.

 

I think that after writing that out you can see why I think it is so important to define the differences between carnality and spirituality, to define living in Faith, and to define abiding in the Word. For without those definitions, if we are one of those unlucky folks who are living in carnality, we have a lot of inspiration after reading this article, but sadly no action items!  But I think there is hope!  If we can say what it means to live in carnality, then we can certainly identify the thoughts and actions that qualify, and stop doing them!  Likewise, if we can define spirituality, then we can being to execute those thoughts and actions in our lives and set about doing what the article instructs us is best to do, which is living in faith!

So lets begin!  Any ideas, examples, etc. of what the author means by those several words?

Your friend,

Pat


References:

Andrew Wommack entitle “Faith is Based in Knowledge.”