Finding Hope In A Strange Place
While I embrace portions of today's electronic age, I also despise portions of it as well. I am not an "active" Facebooker, nor do I twitter or any of those other things that today's society seems to be driven to do. I feel old fashioned in my approach to these things, as I prefer a phone call to endless texts, and I surely do not want to tweet "OMG! I am getting my haircut!" to thousands of followers. It just make no sense.
But earlier this summer, my eldest daughter shared a Facebook page with my wife and I on our Facebook site. We have few friends there; less than most I would assume. But it is with reason: we only desire to share and maintain contact with those we care about and are interested in. We do not want to follow any celebrities, nor friends of friends of friends until we have thousands of people we are following and are in turn being followed by: we prefer our anonymity and our privacy.
To that end I have had many concerns for the youth of today as they feel driven (addicted?) to sharing things about themselves they should not. The younger generations are lacking in social skills such as face to face speaking, speaking in front of gatherings, and generally being able to feel something such as compassion as they are frequently looking into a small screen rather than the eyes of a person and have been known to say hurtful things much more easily in that manner. As I said, I have had great concern for these young people.
But I found a young man who, while it is a Facebook meet, gives me hope that there are far more like him out there in this arena than I had previously thought. He is a Godly man, one who heeds HIs call to share his life and experiences with others. He found his way into my home and I have read his posts daily since that share by my daughter. And I am saddened because his current journey has come to a close.
I do not even know his first name, only his last: Welborn. He is a young man who has chosen, and succeeded, in a great challenge. To canoe, alone, down the length of the mightiest river on the continent, the Mississippi. Beginning in Minnesota just a few miles from the Canadian border all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Well over 2,000 miles, all of it alone.
His daily posts have become required reading for me, beginning each day with his latest words of who he met, how he was treated, what occurred along the river and many other incidents of his life on the river. And in his words I found Hope.
If I understand him accurately, he set out with help from his family and a determination to do something incredible. He created daily posts and words of his life to his Facebook page and along the way came to know a great many people. People who are normal, everyday individuals who discovered him and his journey and gave words of inspiration; who offered shelter and food; who became friends, real friends to last a lifetime in this world of electronic instantcy.
He gave and received Hope, as did those who traveled with him, through him; who met and knew him on this amazing journey.
Along the way, many others like myself have hoped in messages to this young man that he somehow find a way to turn his journey into a book, one aimed at those who love the outdoors, and those who need a bit of inspiration. I have hopes that one here on this site might take an interest in this and help him with his words. You know of whom I am speaking of, Sir William! You are the best purveyor of words I know of and I think this could be a wonderful project for a man such as yourself.
Along the over 2,000 miles, the 2,800 hours on the river, the 118 days of his journey Wellborn has met literally hundreds, if not thousands of well wishers. People who opened their homes to him, showing a deep Christian faith by accepting one who they barely know. They have bought him food, given him shelter, provided supplies to him in his time of need.
He has endured floods, alligators, mosquitoes and river boat and barges the size of small buildings. He has seen the mighty Mississippi as a trickle, one barely sufficient to float his small craft, and he has seen it as it flows into the ocean, there to lose itself in the larger waters.
He never has a bad day: one can always count on his wonderful outlook on life in his beginning words to each daily post: Today was good! How wonderful it is to begin each day reading this young man's enlightening words of hope and joy in the face of such a difficult journey! I for one will miss his words tomorrow and each day after. To read on what he experienced the previous day's miles along the river; to see who he met and what incredible things he saw and experienced.
Through rain and heat, through sand and mud, through loneliness and crowds, through pain and happiness his outlook never wavers. It is a joy to discover one who fully embodies the teachings of our Lord, one who never met a stranger, who does not despair at a hardship, who has such a positive outlook in the face of hardship.
And to think that without this miracle of technology, this single Facebook page, I would not have had the blessing of being introduced to him. And of introducing him to you, my readers.
So I urge you to look him up on Facebook at the address supplied and share with all of your friends. His is a journey of a lifetime, one I wish I could have undertaken in my youth. But as it is, I was blessed to travel with him for days on end, vicariously through his words and insight. It was a wonderful journey indeed!
His is a story worth knowing, and of learning from. Learning to take chances, of trusting the Lord to provide for you, of accepting others and receiving blessings in return for your acceptance. Of Hope. Joy. Adventure.
The people he has met along the river are blessings to him in many ways. Providing information, shelter, food and spending time with him as they show him the sights where they live. In cities and towns along the way he has met a wide variety of the population and it has been a blessing to me to come to know there are so many caring people in this country. I had serious concerns in the past of people who care only for themselves, who are not prone to share themselves or time and money with others. His journey has touched so many both literally and in print, sharing that knowledge that others do care, will help, and are accepting of those outside their little world.
On one post, a person asked him "How in the world do you know so many people along the way?" to which he replied "It's a God thing!".
How simple. How appropriate. Trust in God and He shall provide all that we need. It should be so simple but we make it so very difficult. Thank you Mr. Welborn for reinstalling faith and hope in humanity through your words and journey. We may never meet face to face but we have met in some manner and I for one am richer for the meeting.
Have you followed along on Welborn's Mississippi Solo?
I strongly request that you to take the time and review his Facebook page, reading of his journey and the messages he has received from the general populous. It will inspire you as it has me to believe again, to have faith in others again, and to see that hope is alive and well; it has just been waiting for us to find it once more.