Grace In Unlikely Places

We encounter grace in unexpected places.

Four years ago this month I was cranking my bike on a 1500-mile journey along the Mississippi River. We found Grace at a Mississippi crossroads. It was an unlikely story, one worth re-telling.

We spent last night in a hospital.

It’s not what you think. Nobody’s sick or injured. To explain I need to back up a bit.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Greenville, Ms. Lisa from the Visitors Bureau got us two free nights at a local hotel and some wonderful southern cooking. As we left this morning Lisa called a friend named Meg in Rolling Fork.

Meg arranged to have us speak at the local school and promised to find lodging for Thursday night. That’s Meg along with Mark and Bubba outside a roadside store at a corner known as Grace. And his name really is Bubba—we had to meet one “Bubba” in Mississippi, right?

Turns out that Rolling Fork has no accessible accommodations. It would have been easy to apologize and send us off to another town, but Meg was determined. So she called the administrator of the small community hospital, who offered to let us stay there.

I’ll confess that I wasn’t too keen on the notion of using a hospital room to replace a hotel. As I completed my ride in front of the hospital I was inventing excuses.

Then the welcoming committee showed up.

It started with a guy who followed me into town so he could make a donation. Then Sue and Jane appeared, telling us how excited “the entire town” was to welcome us. They ushered us inside to the room they’d prepared,  complete with goodie bags for Becky and me…and one for Monte!

The local newspaper reporter showed up to take pictures, and  several staff members stopped by to welcome us and tell us how great it was that we were visiting and speaking to the kids.

And just like that, we were guests at the Rolling Fork Community Hospital.

We were treated like royalty and welcomed as family members. We received several generous donations, met a bunch of lovely people, and were given more food than we could eat in a week. They even did our laundry!

And we received several souvenirs reminding us that Rolling Fork is the birthplace of the teddy bear. Read the story here—it’s pretty cool.

So this morning we’ll talk to kids at the local school and encourage them to dream big dreams. Then it’s back on the bike and off to see what new adventures we’ll encounter.

I know it’ll be amazing, but Rolling Fork will be difficult to top. Thanks to Meg, Susan, and all the wonderful folks who welcomed us and made us feel at home—even in a hospital.

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If you don’t know the whole story of this remarkable journey and the amazing people we met along the way, check out RICH’S RIDE: Hope Changes What’s Possible.

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