During the exceptional funeral of the late George H. W. Bush, our 41st president, former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson in his droll way said, “Those that travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic.” In my living room, I smiled and considered the heavy truth of the matter.
While I never had the pleasure of meeting President Bush, and while I am not familiar with the little traveled high road of humility in Washington, I am well acquainted with an exceptional couple who traipse about on a similar road here in California. Pastor Patrick Garrett and his wife, Holly, are the leaders of an Apostolic church in Yucaipa, CA. I’m overcoming my lack of fondness for cliches, when I say to you, “They walk the talk.”
The combination of very cold weather, and our decreasing wood stack which our son Steve heavily contributed to a few months ago, prompted a conversation between Jerry and Pastor Garrett. “I”m bringing you wood, buying it, . . .and some young men are coming with me to stack it on the deck for you.” The response to Jerry’s insistence that he pay the young men for their efforts was, “No, I checked with them, and they will not accept any pay.”
On Saturday morning, here they came; nine strong, willing, young men, along with their pastor and his wife; exceptional Christians, people with the true love of Jesus Christ emanating from them.
Pastor Garrett did not find that truck load of mixed hard wood sufficient for us, so after the first was unloaded and stacked on our deck, he pulled his truck out of our driveway and drove back to Yucaipa for another load–close to an hour’s drive.
I was astonished to see and hear what those young men did next. While their pastor was gone, they took it on themselves–in 40 degree weather–to tackle yard work around our place. As though it were a spring cleanup, they grabbed rakes, hammers, trash bags, and blowers. Cleaned our property until it was spotless. They hosed decks, folded tarps, repaired wall hangings, swept under the front deck, reorganized containers, and from time to time asked, “Is there something else we can do?” My jaw had dropped.
During the original discussion Jerry told Pastor Garrett we would cook up something for the workers, so on Friday evening around 7:00 Jerry fired up his smoker and for 14 or 15 hours he smoked to perfection a Farmer John Pork Shoulder. from which then he deboned the meat and formed delicious pulled pork sandwiches. I whipped up cole slaw, a huge pot of pinto beans with ham hocks, and crusty corn bread baked in iron skillets. Holly brought desserts . . .and we had a feast.
Once while I was in the kitchen one of the young men came to me, so thoughtful and thankful. So sweet, so very sweet. “The table looks like it is for rich people.” His deep brown eyes stared into mine.
“It is for rich people, Caleb.” And then I expressed to him that people with principles and spirits such as this group possessed were rich; indeed they are the richest people on earth. In honor of these rare and treasured people I had set the table with shiny red porcelain plates. and their red and green cloth napkins were held by festive Christmas napkin rings.
Our ears ring daily with horrific tales of disgusting, dishonorable, evil activities. But there are others. Among the few who conscientiously tread the high road of humility and of true godliness are Pastor Patrick Garrett, his wife, Holly, and a number of glowing, exceptional young men.
Just before they left our home, I again thanked Pastor Garrett. “You are a true Christian.” As is his way, he bowed his head, and wept.
I continued. “And following behind you in a steady tramp is an impressive row of young Christians–just like you.”
When President George H. W. Bush removed his coat to warm a cold usher at church one Sunday morning, I was not there. When he wrote personal notes to scores of people, including some I know, I was not there. When he adorned our White House with exceptional ethics and grace I was not there. But recently, and often, it is my distinct favor to mingle with a godly couple and with an expanding flock of beautiful people who contribute to the beauty of this world as they walk the high road toward Heaven. Jerry and I are beneficiaries.
(Sad PS. That is either Gabriel or Joseph whose head I neatly sliced. My sincere apology!)