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The Blackberry Samaritan

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

In the bible, a story is told of an unlikely man rescuing another. It is told to us as The Good Samaritan. The story holds deep meaning for me, it was the first religious lesson I taught, with the help of my mom. I loved the story because it was heroic. What I couldn't see then was that it would lay the foundation of much of my life ambitions

In the biblical account a man is robbed, beaten, and left to the side of the road to perish. Various members of the community see him, each decides to ignore his needs. Then one final man crosses his path. They are an unlikely match. By culture and tradition, they are opposites, if not enemies. Yet, that does not deter the final man from crossing the road and helping the victim. The message is simple. The Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would want done unto you."

As I have traversed life, I have found this story's message never fails. We've all received, at moments, the gift of a Samaritan. Sometimes we are in dire stress along the road of life and someone comes to aid, such as a car emergency on a hectic day or long trip. Other times, a phone call or a note or email from a friend arrives to remind us we are loved and valued. Still other times, when life just gets too hard, there is someone to listen, hold, and grieve with us. Being both the giver and the receiver is a beautiful thing.

However, the story isn't limited to religious experiences or life pursuits. It was a fictional account to paint a picture of what life could be, should we let it. As it is a parable, fable, or story, it leaves room for abundant interpretation.

A New Samaritan

This summer, I met a new Samaritan. He likely does not see himself as one, however, his little act was a huge gift. Along one of the expressways in my town lies a fantastic walking, biking, and running path. It seems to stretch to the end of the world. Shaded by trees and lush landscape, it's an easy mental reprieve from the rigors of life. It's only deficit? Wild Blackberries.

If a pernicious fruit exists it is Wild Blackberries. Thick stemmed, deep thorned, delicious autumn fruited tendrils that creep like something out of a Grimm fairy tale. Mid-summer this beast of a plant thrusts itself outward onto the paved path.

Bike tires, clothes, and body parts are shown no mercy if people cross its path. Ironically, the county leaves it be. Afterall the fruit is delicious if you brave to pick it, and birds and other wild life likely enjoy the fruits and protections. However, it is miserable to meet it during a sunshiny afternoon excursion.

It was on my own bike excursion that I met Julio, the Samaritan. On my first pass, I didn't realize who he was. My daily ride passes the same stretch of path twice.

When I initially sped past him, I thought he was the gardener from the high school that was on the left side of the bike-walk path. I waved, merrily rode by thinking how great it was that high school gardener would risk his hands and arms to cut back the blackberry forest. Then my mind wandered and I forgot about him.

Twenty minutes later, on my return trip, I paid more attention. He wasn't with the school, or the county. He was just some guy pushing a weed eater, carrying big clippers, taking down the treacherous branches. He was even bold enough to be wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt. I stopped and asked him why he was doing it. "Because they hurt people." A very simple answer. I asked if I could take pictures, he laughed.

I began to finish my ride, but I couldn't, I stopped, turned around and watched him happily work his way up the stretch. Pruning, mulching, and making the path "not hurt people." I don't know if anyone else saw him or if they even noticed the edged bushes, but I did and still do. As the yards between us lengthened, I returned to the final leg of my ride. A smile split across my face and heart. What a beautiful Samaritan. In my mind's eye, I pictured the kid on a scooter who won't have to get stuck by the brambles. Or the mom pushing the stroller and not getting her tied around her waist sweatshirt snagged as she navigated her kids.

It really is the little things that rescue all of us. My neighbor who voluntarily shovels everyone's sidewalks on snowy days. The teacher who stays after class to help students finish their assignment. Or Julio, who prunes a walkway so that people he doesn't know will have a happy path to travel on.

Isn't life beautiful?

Have a fantastic week,


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