I was in the caboose group with Robert for the next five miles. They were challenging because we were under the impression it was going to be just a mile or two. I kept saying to Robert, “Harper’s Ferry and the ice cream shop is just around the corner.” When we finally got to Harper’s Ferry, Robert sat down and said, “That’s it. I’m not going any further.” The campground was another three miles away.
Fortunately, we had a chance to take a break in Harper’s Ferry. We swam in the Potomac River. We visited the ice cream shop. Robert decided to get a big cheeseburger, a large coke and a root beer to help him make it to the campsite.
Sarah didn’t organize for a ‘caboose’ for the last three mile leg of the journey so I asked Robert to leave the ice cream shop earlier than the others so we could get a head start. I walked with him for about a mile and a half. But then I got distracted talking to one of the others who had caught up with us.
After a while, I looked back to see where Robert was and I noticed that Ahmad was walking with Robert. Ahmad is an African-American teenager who has relatives in Sarah and Ali’s neighborhood. He was the youngest person on the hike. Ahmad walked the rest of the way with Robert. Those who had already arrived clapped when the two of them made it to the camp that night. This time Robert was not the last. He was no longer the ‘caboose’.
The next day, Sarah and Ahmad were walking back to the car together. Sarah asked Ahmad, “How was the hike for you?”
Ahmad said, “Miss Sarah, I remember you telling us how we all need to help Robert. I saw your dad walking on past Robert. So I decided to be the person to walk with him. We talked. I asked him questions. We rested at certain spots. We made it to the campsite last night together. I’m glad I was able to help him.”
When Sarah told me that story of inclusion that involved both Robert and young Ahmad, I was moved to tears. It was once again another “gulp of God’s kingdom.”