_______________________

Thursday, May 26, 2005


charlie


When I looked in the side-view mirror of our Chevy Luv pick-up and saw the man walking toward us, I thought Charles Manson had escaped from prison and come for a visit. The approaching man had a touch of wild dishevelment about him and that same shock of long, brown, unbrushed hair. The closer he drew, the more I wondered--especially when I honed in on a pair of piercing, see-to-your-soul eyes.

"Hey, folks," he said through Dave's lowered window. "Need some help?"

We'd been stuck on the freeway for a good half hour (back in those pre-cell phone days) when the man pulled up behind us in his psychedelic, flower-splattered VW van. Only a person truly comfortable with their persona could comfortably maneuver the road in a van that hippified.

Dave got out first. "Don't know what the problem is," he said. "I've looked at the blah, blah, blah and there's no problem there. Wiggled the blah, blah, blah and that seems to have a good connection."

(That's what I heard, so that's what you get.)

"How 'bout the blah, blah, blah?" the man asked.

They kept up the car talk for a few long moments. I studied the man through the windshield. He did have a bit of a half-crazed look, but he seemed familiar in a not-Charles-Manson way. Every once in awhile, he'd look up from his poking and prodding and I'd catch a glimpse of something I knew in those eyes--something friendly and inviting.

I decided to get out and get closer. Scooting over to Dave's side of the truck, I slipped out and shut the door.

"Howdy," the man said.

"Hi," I said in return.

"This is my wife, Shannon," Dave said. "I'm Dave."

The man stopped poking long enough to extend a hand. "Name's Charlie," he said.

Charlie?

We took turns shaking his hand. I studied him some more. I hadn't been near a real hippie in years. I liked hippies. Spent quite a bit of my childhood with them. I was ten in 1971 and we'd just returned home after living in Oklahoma and Arkansas for several years. My mother was newly divorced and took to wearing mini skirts and go-go boots. To top off her new look, she bought a big motorcycle. Before long, each of us girls had our own helmets and would take turns riding to the grocery store with her.

We moved to an apartment complex where all our neighbors had love beads hanging in their doorways and a perpetual haze of pot smoke hanging in their apartments. A handful of these new neighbors, upon meeting and befriending my mother, thought it would be groovy if she built a coffee table for our living room. At their suggestion and with a little help, she built a table using landscape timbers for the top and a black, fake-fur-covered box for the base. To further distress the look of the top, these new friends helped her haul the piece out our patio doors where they took to beating the top with various sharp objects to make it all the more groovy.

One of the table-beating hippies took a liking to me, made me a macrame purse, and taught me to play "Stairway to Heaven" on my guitar.

I liked hippies back then. Still do.

While Charlie and Dave honed in on our truck's problem, I turned and looked again at the psychedelic van. It was then that I realized why Charlie had seemed so familiar and why I'd recognized something in his eyes. Just above his grill, in wild, swirly, multi-colored letters, someone had painted, "Jesus loves you!"

Charlie was a Jesus Hippie.

I'd heard of such people but before that moment, I'd never had the pleasure of meeting one up close. And what a meeting we had. Charlie spent five hours with us that day. I don't know what other appointments he'd scheduled in his daytimer, but it all went out the window when he happened upon the needy we.

He drove us to a parts store and helped Dave get what we needed. Figuring it was going to take awhile to make the repair, he then drove me to his home, where I met his beautiful, gracious, earth-motherish wife, Ginger. Charlie and Ginger lived in a converted school bus with their three children. They'd converted a second school bus into a traveling school room where they spent their mornings homeschooling the kids. Not only were these the first Jesus-loving hippies I'd ever met, they were the first school-bus dwellers and the first homeschoolers.

Ginger could not have been more hospitable. She treated me as though my coming had been a long-anticipated event. Offered me cookies, gave me a tour of both buses, and told me how much she loved Jesus. She actually didn't need to tell me that--it was written all over her life--but I liked hearing it anyway.

By the time Charlie and Dave drove up in the van and newly-fixed truck, Ginger had dinner waiting on the table. Before we ate, Charlie thanked Jesus for our new friendship.

That was nineteen years ago. We don't see Charlie and Ginger Ransom-Lippke nearly as often as we'd like, but every once in awhile, God sees fit to make our paths cross again. And each time I see again those wild, Jesus-loving eyes, I'm reminded of a few things: Love shows itself in action ... God's children are all one-of-a-kind ... and the next person you meet might just be a brother.

Click here to read Charlie--Part 2"

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:12-13 (NIV)

Labels: , ,

15 Comment:

At 5/27/2005 10:39 AM, Blogger Rich had this to say ...

That was a wonderful story!

 
At 5/27/2005 12:44 PM, Blogger troy had this to say ...

Don't you just love those people that God puts into your life accidentally? Great story...thanks.

Troy

 
At 5/27/2005 12:44 PM, Blogger troy had this to say ...

Don't you just love those people that God puts into your life accidentally? Great story...thanks.

Troy

 
At 5/27/2005 12:55 PM, Blogger Ginger had this to say ...

What vivid pictures you paint with your storytelling, Shannon. Being a visual learner, I just love that! And I love memorable characters like these, too.

Isn't it interesting how you can admire colorful, unusual people but (at least for me) not want to live their lifestyle?

 
At 5/27/2005 3:39 PM, Blogger BJ had this to say ...

Shannon--

Thanks for your story. I have a similar one that I'll share on my blog sometime. I love your mechanical expertise and I love that you didn't miss Jesus in Charlie's eyes. Many might have. Bless you.

Troy, I don't think it an accident at all that Shannon and her hubby met up with Charlie that day. Those are divine appointments.

 
At 5/27/2005 4:18 PM, Anonymous crickl had this to say ...

Shannon,

I just wanted to tell you, I found your blog on another page in their sidebar one day and have been reading it every day since! I love your writing.

I am a pastor's wife too, in northern Arizona and also have a blog.

God bless!
Christie

http://www.angelfire.com/art2/crickl/view/

 
At 5/27/2005 4:39 PM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Shannon, what a great story. It's so true, that we never know who God will bring across our path. We pray for help but sometimes don't really see it when it shows up.

How cool that you met Charlie at a time like that. I love thinking about how paths in life intertwine. You and Dave would have never met him, had your car not broken down. Thanks for sharing. Your blog is a favorite! Bonnie

 
At 5/28/2005 11:25 AM, Blogger Harry had this to say ...

Maybe I consumed way too much pot back in the day, or maybe it's from normal old age catching up with me, but here's the deal: I started gambling today with some of my hard-earned credits, and now I can't seem to recall if I won or lost you earlier.

In any case, here I am again, courtesy of the wild Blog Rocket, where I am studiously trying to recoup my losses. *grins while bearing the pain*

Like you, I came across a Charlie-type once, and after reading of your lovely encounter, I must now go and try to put together my own story for my next blog. For that inspiration, I thank you.

Yours, I might add, is not only what people would call a good testimony for others in this crazy, gone-mad world, but also a well-written and most-entertaining piece. I really felt the atmosphere.

The vivid pictures you strung together were as inviting as those beaded curtains you had to part, and I'm sure I heard their clinking sounds as I followed the story. I will say, however, that the sweet-smelling odor of illict haze is but a fond memory now.

 
At 5/28/2005 3:02 PM, Blogger pam had this to say ...

Shannon, I just love this story. It reminds me of my early twenties when I knew everything :), it also reminds me it doesn't matter where you live or how little or much money you have our joy is in the Lord, His light shines through us. Sometimes I need that reminder.

 
At 5/29/2005 5:04 AM, Anonymous Joe Cool - Cowboy Poet had this to say ...

Yes, the signs are always there that He loves us, if we but take the time to stop and listen. And that others too know that He loves all of us may not be as blatant as that sign on the grill. I had an interesting week last week where that too was shown to me. I thank Him for showing me that love is all around us if we but take the time to see it.

 
At 5/29/2005 8:56 AM, Blogger Monica had this to say ...

Now THAT is one of the best reminders I've seen in a long time about not judging a book by it's cover. I love that you still see them from time to time--it would be neat if you could let us in on what their love-raised kids ended up doing--I'm truly believing they grew up to be just as wonderful.

 
At 5/29/2005 12:50 PM, Blogger Bar Bar A had this to say ...

Shannon, I agree with everyone else, you have a gift for writing and a beautiful spirit as well. Like BJ said, many would have missed Jesus in Charlie.

Your blog has become a "must read" for me. Thanks!

 
At 5/29/2005 7:35 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Hello all!

Thank you for your kind and positive comments. I'm thinking I'll have to blog again about Charlie soon. He has some really amazing stories--one in particular that I'm itching to share.

Monica, Charlie and Ginger's children did grow up to be great people. I haven't seen them in a long time, but Charlie filled us in when we ran into him at a Christian camp in our area last year (he and Ginger live across the street from the camp and he works as a maintenance man there.)

Thanks again! I appreciate all your comments.

 
At 5/30/2005 12:33 AM, Blogger thequeen had this to say ...

Hippies are some of the best strangers to keep..
I loved this post for so many reasons..I won't go into them, but I will say, AMEN, and AMEN again:)

 
At 5/30/2005 2:43 AM, Blogger Jeff had this to say ...

I like your blog, if it's alright with you I'm going to put a link to your blog on my blogspot...take care

 

Post a Comment


Thank you for your kind, loving comment. Um ... you were kind and loving, weren't you?

Back to the home page...