Real People

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 66

Streams and rivers
carve ravines and canyons
because they flow down to the ocean.
The power is in the downward flow.

One who helps us with this practice speaks and acts with humility.
Therefore our own power flows.
One who leads us on this path follows along behind.
Therefore our own true nature leads.

Our gratitude to the countless beings
who have transmitted this path
down to the present day
is without limit.
They taught with gentleness and grace.
Few of their names are known.
Great is their honor.



A little more than a year ago, Nancy and I met an elderly woman named Flora as we hiked along our favorite trails. Flora leads a group of hikers called, “The Siskiyou Strolling Bears.” The Strolling Bears are a diverse collection of older hikers and people recovering from injuries. Flora lives in a small cabin outside the town of Mt. Shasta. She is, by cultural definition, poor. She is a brilliant musician and earns a bit of income playing piano for the High School choirs.

She cares for every person in the hiking group like her own family, making sure they have what they need. She shops at thrift stores and is delighted at a $2 pair of shoes she found. She is one of the happiest, most vital women I’ve ever met – always enthused, always smiling. She is a tireless hiker and an embodiment of the Tao. She will be away at a yoga class for six weeks. Knowing we were struggling with fixing up the cabin at our place, she said, “You can live at my cabin for a month if you need to while I’m gone.”

It is fascinating. Having dropped out of the middle class culture, we have found an ocean of generosity and joy among the poor and humble. A woman who has nothing but a 400 square foot cabin, offers what she has. We don’t need to take her offer, but we will always cherish it. Life has become real and full of real people.

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