Day 8 Shelby [ME]

Friday March 26th – Although the church at Lewiston was the most shabby, it was one of my favorite churches! This is because it is extremely busy! It feeds about 100 people a day, seven days a week. I loved the dining room. On the walls were signs that said, “Sit down, Be quiet, and Read!” The church was in a poor, rough, neighborhood, so I could imagine the need of the people – for food, guidance, homework assists, even clothes! And the dinner was excellent! Yummy spinach casserole with thick cream sauce. We were joined the next morning by 10 Peace Students of Doug (one of the founding members of Veterans for peace)’s from the University of Maine at Farmington. They had all taken Doug’s course on peace and received an email from him about the walk and had signed up, so they were walking on their own volition, not because they were made to walk for extra credit! They were great walkers all of them, and nice people as well. They mingled with everyone on the walk despite being young of age. The road from Lewiston to Bath took us up hills and up country roads and always were we following the Androscoggin river which was swollen and overflowing. You’d see trees with lakes all around them. When Betty approached us saying we were welcome to take a break at the Elk Lodge I rejoiced because the break couldn’t have come soon enough.
At the Molly Ocket hotel we were greeted by a jolly man and his wife who had been married for 37 years. The wife gave us hot water for tea. Betty spread lunch all along the counter – bread and cheese, clementines – and the husband showed us his amazing fireplace which had every kind of rock in it from Maine’s famous tourmalines to rocks from every state in the nation. Some even lit up like neon signs when we turned on the lights. Maggie fortunately met us inside having sensibly taken a break from walking. She is an amazing 89 year old lady. A poet, a peacemaker, and a very real person. We all check on her constantly and she responds always with humour. Also on the walk is another 66 year old lady called Karen from Brunswick who is strong as an ox. She started her walk in Bethel; she feels like a sister to me, she is so nice! Also her friend, Jean, beautiful Jean with the beautiful shaded green eyeglasses matching the lime green scarf. She is a very handsome woman, and also very warm and nice. And you’ll never guess how old she is, 77 years old! She was supposed to stop her walk in Brunswick, only she continued her walk onto Freeport, just for the fun of it! My favorite lady is Sister Clare she is so pretty and she has the most incredible voice. She chants and sings when she walks, and I’ll never forget how kind she was to the Mayor of Lewiston when she thanked him from the bottom of her heart for greeting us so kindly in his office. The walk this day to Bath via Brunswick was a long one and so we stopped for lunch at Joey Graziano’s. A pizza place with a very English Tudor atmosphere. We sat down elegantly at a long dining table at a hushed atmosphere and the waitress brought us hot cheesy pizza! It went down the hatch well! Betty soon noticed that the waitress had a peace sign on her handbag, so it’s amazing how God works in mysterious ways to bring us to exactly the right people. This waitress had such a heart. As it wasn’t busy in the restaurant after we left she asked her boss if she could walk with us and he said yes. She walked with us all the rest of the way to Brunswick, can you imagine that? It was heaven when we finally got to the Brunswick Green and there was the blue truck with the white top and the silver van! We gathered around in a circle, a big circle because we were a large group that day, and gave our thanks for a safe trip. And we prayed for peace one more time. Then in an instant everybody found a car to get into and we were gone to Bath. Rev. Bill Bliss and about 5 members of his church greeted us at the door of the big modern church in Bath, the church looked like a lodge, and it had a big fireplace and was warm and cozy. We were ushered into the dining room where Reverend Bliss had set the tables himself with candles and cloth napkins and table cloths and china. We proceeded to dine on the most spectacular food as someone said potluck dinners are the best. I remember a taste of black beans, corn, and cilantro. And there was the fish chowder that was ordered at the last minute. Reverend Bliss had even managed to take care of that. We had speeches and thanks and prayers for peace and then we got in cars, everybody hugging and kissing each other goodnight and goodbye even though we would be seeing each other the next morning. But we truly did love each other. The walk is not a walk at all; it is a house party where we spend a little bit of time with this person and a little bit of time with that person. I truly feel that I have met lifelong friends. Christy, Betty and I had the privilege of spending the night at Maggie’s house and what a house! Surrounded on three sides by the Kennebeck River, it sits on a promontory that is private and it is Maggie’s alone. We were so engrossed in tidying the van that we didn’t realize that Maggie wanted to go to bed. So Maggie came outside and said, “Are you going to be staying out there all night?” The Kitchen had a fireplace and hand hewn beams, the floors were rustic barn door, the furniture was antique. In the morning the river shown through every window. Betty was a saint that evening and washed Maggie’s feet in hot water, popped her blisters and wrapped her feet in moleskin. I envied her. Betty takes such good care of us. It should be said that Betty is amazing at her job. Before you ever know you have a need, Betty has filled it. She always thinks ahead, and she is a sweetheart. Over and over again we need to give our thanks to Betty for without her we’d surely be stuck out in the rain.
We slept like logs in real beds that night. Then in the morning we were able to take a long, hot shower, and didn’t we need to take showers! And the day before I was aware how salty my face was and during the walk from Lewiston to Bath – 19 miles – the temperature dropped. By afternoon everyone was extremely cold and chapped and rosy cheeked. The wind picked up too. The sun was out but it didn’t warm us enough. In the morning at Maggie’s house, Christie, Betty and I helped ourselves to Mayonnaise and Mustard in Maggie’s fridge. And when Maggie came downstairs followed by her three adoring cats, she found us sitting at the kitchen table peeling eggs, making deviled eggs for Brunch at Bruce’s house. In all it was a fantastic six days! (Shelby Nicholson)

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