Driving Through a Blizzard With Bishop Tutu



As recorded in the King James Bible, John the Baptist gave his followers a extremely very simple command when they asked how to stay clear of the “wrath to occur.”
“He that hath two coats, allow him impart to him that hath none.”
I followed that suggestions in a second I will hardly ever forget about.
I had a great 10 times at the conclusion of 1983 and commencing of 1984, undoubtedly my greatest-at any time trip.
Bobbie, my girlfriend at the time, was the secretary for an Episcopal priest who coordinated that church’s countrywide campus ministries from its New York Town headquarters. She experienced to show up at a convention of about 100 Episcopal youth at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colo. I made a decision to tag alongside. We flew into Denver on Xmas Eve, rented a car or truck, joined the conference’s other organizers and drove off to the Y, about 70 miles absent.
Permit me notify you, the YMCA of the Rockies is not your standard YMCA. Surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park, it is gorgeous. It not only has conference areas, clean up and snug lodges, camping spots, a “Yurt Village,” eating places, an indoor pool and fireplace pits but cabins for rent. Bobbie and I had been joined by her buddy and that friend’s husband, an outsized rancher from New Mexico. We rented a two-bed room cabin, finish with a fire and a comprehensive kitchen that was just a small wander from the pool for, if I don’t forget correctly, a mere $45 a evening. It was a real obtain!
I used my days skiing on new, organic, white powder with “Big Jerry” or obtaining a few refreshing grownup drinks while seeing bowl games at Estes Park’s upscale bars. I especially keep in mind Penn State’s 13-10 win above Washington in the Aloha Bowl and fifth-ranked Miami’s 31-30 upset of best-ranked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. In the night Bobbie and I would sign up for the college young children at events or enjoy a quiet evening in entrance of a roaring fireplace. I ate quite a few wonderful-grade steaks. Only a person downer: Estes Park’s Italian food items. It reminded me of Henry Hill’s description of Arizona’s Italian eats when he was place into witness security in the motion picture “Goodfellas” – “egg noodles and ketchup.” I’m guessing it is better now.
So, a wonderful holiday vacation. But that isn’t what would make it so unforgettable. Which brings me back again to John the Baptist’s terms.
About three times into the excursion nearly all of the pupils experienced arrived. The up coming day the real conference would start, kicked off by its keynote speaker. But then a issue developed.
I came off of the slopes and returned to the Y as dusk was settling in. The organizers were freaking out. The speaker, together with 3 late-arriving higher education students, had arrived in Denver. But it appeared as if they could possibly get trapped in the airport. It was just spitting snow, but a blizzard was bearing down. The retreat’s leaders had been all city folk and were terrified of driving in snow.
Now, I lived in Manhattan at the time, working on the floor of the American Inventory Exchange. But I experienced developed up in Vermont and the Adirondacks, so the white things didn’t hassle me. I volunteered to travel a person of their vans. Offer.
It was an quick travel, just light flakes and good visibility. I rounded up the students and the speaker, a small, bespectacled, middle-aged, gentle, speedy-to-giggle, delicate-spoken Black person with a form of squeaky voice that sometimes cracked. We headed out to the van. It experienced turned genuinely chilly and windy and the snow experienced gotten a lot heavier. The speaker, who experienced come from the southern hemisphere, didn’t have a wintertime coat. No challenge, I gave him my parka, which was substantially a great deal too substantial for him but heat. I was good – bear in mind, I experienced just appear off the slopes and was dressed in quite a few levels.
The children piled into the back again of the van and instantly fell asleep. The speaker bought into the passenger seat and away we went.< The trip from Estes Park had only taken about 90 minutes. The trip back took almost four hours. The blizzard had arrived and it was, despite all of my whiteout experiences in upstate New York, scary even to me. There was, at best, 40 feet of visibility winds rocked the van, the snow was piling up quickly. When we got off of the four-lane road and onto a narrow, winding mountain road for the last 20 miles or so the older man’s knuckles seemed to turn white. It was a white-knuckled drive. The man peppered me with questions throughout the trip. How did I learn to drive in a blizzard? What were the differences between Colorado, Vermont and upstate New York? How did I happen to be at the conference? Was I an Episcopalian? What did I do for a living? What was it like to work at the stock exchange? I asked him about his native land in return. A very interesting conversation with a delightful man. When we finally arrived at the Y the conference’s organizers let out deep breaths. They had been worried that we may have crashed and in the days before cell phones had no way to call me. There was an audible sound of relief. The next day they bought the speaker a winter coat and I got my parka back, with the man repeatedly thanking me. Hey, I reaffirmed, it was no big deal. Instead of skiing again I listened to his opening remarks, and very insightful they were. I returned to my normal routine the next day and enjoyed the rest of my vacation. It wasn’t until months later that the act of lending the speaker my coat truly sank in. I had gotten home from work and Bobbie was excited to the max. “Guess who won the Noble Peace Prize, guess who won the Noble Peace Prize?! Bishop Tutu!” Wow, I had lent my coat to a Noble Peace Prize winner, and driven him through a blizzard! I was well aware of Bishop Tutu’s career when I drove him, but this put the icing on the cake! Even now that memory excites me. How many people get to talk one-on-one for four hours with a Noble Peach Prize winner?< As I write this, Archbishop Desmond Tutu lies in state in southern Africa’s oldest cathedral in, typically, a modest pinewood coffin as thousands of people, Black, white and all sorts of shades in between walk by it to honor the man. He was set to be cremated and his ashes buried on New Year’s Day. I wish I could be there to give a respectful tap on his coffin. Tutu was one of the greatest men of the 20th century. He kept the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa alive while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and, even more importantly, led that nation through an extremely dangerous period as the white government of South Africa was replaced by Mandela. His chairmanship of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which explored the many human rights violations of the apartheid era in depth, was successful. A bloodbath had been predicted by many. It didn’t happen. Tutu’s life reminds me of another biblical verse, this one spoken by Jesus himself. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu was surely blessed. And I feel blessed for having had the opportunity to get to know him. rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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