The American Chronicles: It’s not the step, it’s the sudden stop

When I was a youngster, I had a dream to ride a horse from the East coast to the Pacific Ocean. That dream has stuck with me throughout my life. Now at 67, that dream seems out of sight. Last fall, my wife Chris and I were blessed to purchase a used travel van and our intent is to complete that monumental ride. I may not ever realize my dream on horseback, but as Chris said, “The Lord has seen it fit to give you 160 horses under the hood to make that dream possible.” The American Chronicles will journal the stories along the way, the people we meet, the sights we see, with an eye toward what is good and right about America. So take a break from the hard news, and step out with us in our travels.

We had taken a couple of short trips last fall, but this 10-day trip was stepping out and testing our ideas of how we can live and work in such a small space. Chris planned a trip to Greenville, SC to visit friends Linda and Bob and my brother Larry; then to North Augusta on the South Carolina/Georgia border to see friends Elaine and John; then to Englewood, FL to visit Chris’ long-time friend, Chris C. On the way to Greenville, we stayed at a really nice campground in south-central, VA. It was unique because it not only had campsites, it also had Conestoga wagons people could rent for overnights. Those wagons were not so unlike our van—narrow, have water in barrels (tanks) on the sides, and a place to sleep as the settlers made their way across the new nation. We are certainly happy to have more of the comforts of home.

In North Augusta, Elaine and John had us park under their extra-high carport. It was going to be nice to have a hot shower, some of Elaine’s high-end cooking, and John’s conversation over a cigar. They have a picturesque home along the Savanah River. Dr. John is a cancer researcher and Elaine a retired school teacher, if one ever does retire from that profession. Always a missionary, Elaine now teaches the Bible to public school kids. They took us to Aiken, SC., a dog-friendly quaint town with western wear stores and charming restaurants. We had lunch at one of them. We bought some very interesting olive oil at a shop there. Then back to Elaine and Johns for a nice evening. Well, at least that’s the way it began. Our dog, Charlie, needed to go out. So, I put on my boots and grabbed the leash.

As we were stepping out the front door, he lunged a bit too hard and my toe caught on the porch floor causing me to stumble. Charlie just kept pulling as I was falling down four brick steps, thought I had broken my fall with my knees and palms, but then my head slammed into the brick landing. Blood pooling in my hands, the neighbors helped me up and I staggered into the hall bathroom, applying some paper towels to clean up the mess. We went to emergent-care. Three stitches later, they sent me home. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” A few lessons—Stepping out to begin a dream is great, stepping off a porch not so much; It’s not the step or the fall, it’s that sudden stop; I know now why they call them “landings,” and finally, it’s better to let God order your steps than a dog.

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Bill Wilson