Exercise: A Different Track

Last night Gail knocked on the door.  She needed a ride, end of the month, no food and there was a church that could help.  We offered her some of our food, but she said that she had some special needs and just needed a ride to the church.  So off we went, on a rainy night through the streets of downtown Little Rock.  The church she though could help didn’t have what she needed, so she suggested another church, but at 7:30 at night they were closed so we tried another and another.  I mentioned another church I knew, oh that church is run by Father so an so–it seems Gail is on a first name basis with the entire clergy of Little Rock.

In the end we found a church that was open.  They gave her a couple of bags of junk food and that seemed okay to her.

Driving around with Gail was a tour of a different side of Little Rock.  I knew the streets, I knew the churches, but I didn’t know which ones would give money and which ones had the best food pantries.  Gail knew and she helped me understand my place a little better.

Try this as a spiritual exercise.  Find your Gail–someone who lives a different kind of life from you in the exact same place.  We tend to get on our tracks, take the familiar roads and travel them the same way, but we need to disrupt those routes if we are to go deeper in our places.  Find a tour guide to a different side of your place.  Take a different kind of transportation to the normal places you go–ride your bike if you drive or take the bus.  Jesus may be on the regular roads, but I find it hard to see him there.

About Ragan Sutterfield

Ragan Sutterfield is a writer and Episcopal seminarian sojourning from his native Arkansas in Alexandria, Virginia. He is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, Farming as a Spiritual Discipline and a contributor to the book Sacred Acts: How churches are working to protect the Earth’s climate. Ragan’s articles and essays have appeared in a variety of magazines including Triathlete, The Oxford American, and Books & Culture. He works to live the good life with his wife Emily and daughter Lillian.


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