M 11/21 So we’ve been on the road now for two and a half weeks, and today we’ve been driving for hours, from Greenville, NC, to Chattanooga. We had to reroute our journey to avoid the overpowering thick smoke from the wildfires.
It’s been mostly hard, but the best part has been getting to know all of the wonderful people we’ve been meeting and staying with. In Greenville, we stayed with an African American man who was one of the sweetest, simplest, humblest, wisest man either of us had ever met. We were, all three, almost exactly the same age: 70, with birthdays in different months. This man almost single-handedly was responsible for the remarkable spread of the Baha’i Faith in the 60s, making it the 2nd most populous Faith in South Carolina. His story was remarkable; the persecution and harassment that he and his family endured for becoming Baha’is in the deep Christian South. Of course, his family represented the vanguard of the opposition, until they caved in to the new Faith. His dad, in exasperation after his lack of success in using the Bible to prove to Richard the errancy of his ways, finally took to the Baha’i books to disprove to his son this upstart (clearly false and heretical) religion. That was his big mistake; within months, he declared his faith in Baha’u’llah, with the vast majority of the rest of this sprawling extended family to follow!
His name is Richard Abercrombie, and being in his presence was like stepping into a time warp—it seemed as though regular time just disappeared, and we were in a different dimension, where everything slowed way down, and there was no pressure, no stress, no worries, just endless fascinating and spiritual stories, rolling like the green hills of some parts of the South. And the South! Like traveling in a different country! Different landscape, different language, almost (!), different culture, different ways of looking at life.
Everywhere we’ve gone, though, our new friends have been caring people who want the best for everyone, even in a sea of fear and protectionism.
We should be in Chattanooga in 2 1/2 hours. I am so excited to see my family! It’s like an ache inside me, or the thirst of a man deprived of water.