Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ongoing Battle over Acts of Kindness

Picture from last year's Hiker Picnic we held up in Shenandoah on Memorial Day Weekend

Believe it or not, there is an ongoing battle right now on White Blaze with regards to Trail Magic and Hiker feeds. Some are vehemently opposed to giving food to hikers on the AT. They say they are on "vacation". They don't need people giving them handouts. They say there are people starving and that we should devote time and energy to those who truly hunger. Or thirst. Or they say that one should give back to the trail not by nursing the hikers but by taking care of the trail through maintenance.

All are valid points in their own right. But who is to say what is right and wrong with regards to bestowing kindness on our fellow man? In our own feeble minds, we look through a glass darkly. Who is to say that though the hiker on a trail might be on a vacation of sorts by taking time away to hike, his soul and heart longs for a friendly face, for an answer to some unspoken question in their hearts, for an answer to satisfy a true hunger in their souls? For hope? I am not going to sit on some throne and decide who is "worthy" of hiker food. Or if my time and attention should go to some other more noble cause in someone else's mind. To me, this is a noble cause. I have a desire to reach out to other hikers making this trek on a lonely trail. It is my mission field, so to speak, to greet wanderers with food, a friendly smile, and to talk about the trail and life. And if it opens up, to also share about the hope that is within me and a hope I need every day just to make it myself.

Last year we had some 18 hikers visit with us. One stayed for hours. And at least seven of those hikers who stopped at our picnic I saw again in New England where they recognized me and said it was a memorable time on their hike and did not forget it.

We made a memorable impression that stayed with a group of hikers for miles upon miles and months, too, after they saw us in Virginia. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Maybe that will propel others to extend acts of kindness and maybe end up feeding a soul who may not hunger in their flesh because they have the money to buy food; but hunger elsewhere and be satisfied. To know that (S)someone cares....

So judge not lest you be judged.

NOTE: Our next hiker picnic will be at Smith Roach Gap, Shenandoah NP on May 27th, 2011. Come on out and greet hikers and bring some food and drinks.


Rebecca said...

I feel that it is just food that you are giving but what it is really about is connecting with people. No different than people on the side of a marathon cheering for the runners or offering food/drink from rogue aid stations. The people are the trail.

Love the slide show of your pics on the sidebar by the way!

Donna said...

I agree with you. It's not just the food. It's meeting some deeper need with the act of kindness serving as a bridge. The fact that some of the hikers recognized you later on and bothered to say they appreciated that time is proof that you're on the right trail (pun intended) =) Keep up the good you do.


Frogdown said...

People have the right to receive or reject anything they want. People with a problem with trail magic need to just HTOH and not worry about others!