We headed north after muggy nights spent camping across Mississippi and Florida. Their mixture of heat and humidity seemed unmatchable. The air felt like an enduring damp blanket, heavy and oppressive. In these states, heat worked like an alarm clock ringing through the night, which made deep sleep nearly impossible. In the morning, the sun baked us out of hammocks and tents that acted like greenhouses as we awoke clammy and ornery.

With our gear packed up from our first night in South Carolina and the car’s air conditioning on high, we set our eyes to Charleston, SC, a city filled with history and sights to see. As we drove, we wondered silently about when we’d experience our next brush with serendipitous wildness. Sometimes days pass without an event, and we’ll begin to wonder what’s next. Are we doing something wrong? Have we kept our eyes open? Did we miss it? But as quickly as we ask these questions, we’re often put in our place. And South Carolina was no different.

Our drive was quiet as we passed through Mt. Pleasant, an appropriately named suburb north of Charleston. Nate broke the silence, “Did you see that? We just passed it.” “Passed what?” Shane asked. Along the side of the road was a card table boasting a homemade sign that read “Bake Sale” in permanent marker. Shane’s U-turn landed us at the front of a table filled with an array of baked goods that made our mouths water!

We looked over the selection of pies, brownies, bars, and more. “Were you up all night baking?” Nate asked the woman behind the table. “Yes,” she answered. “Till about 3 in the morning.” Her eyes were tired but she maintained a sweet smile all the while. “I’m Linda,” she said extending her hand. We quickly learned a little of Linda’s story. Her bake sale was the beginning of her fundraising to attend a conference in New York, a place she’d never visited but couldn’t wait to see. “The bus ticket alone is over $200,” Linda told us. After adding up her expenses, she figured she would need to raise around $400 – one sweet potato pie at a time.

Unfortunately, a full pie doesn’t keep well in an enclosed car in 100 degree heat, so we sorted through cupcakes, brownies, and bars, all baked late night by Linda and her mom. “What are these?” Shane asked. “Those are chewies,” Linda responded. “What’s a chewy?” he asked. Linda’s eyes widened, “Oh, you’ve just got to try them. They’re just amazing!”

Nate picked out some brownies and Shane went with Linda’s recommendation. When we asked her how much, “Just 6 dollars,” she said with a smile. Nate took out some cash and passed it to Linda. “Ahh, I don’t have change for that,” she told him. “We don’t need change. We want to help you get to New York,” Nate said. Linda was silent for a second and then a single tear rolled down her cheek. She seemed stunned but came out from behind the table. “Can I give you a hug?” she asked. More tears. Her embrace was honest and expressed an unspoken deep appreciation. “Thank you. Just thank you,” she finished.

Linda yelled to her daughter who stood on the sidewalk flashing the homemade bake sale sign. “I have to have her out there because I can’t be in the sun,” she told us. Linda explained that she has been battling lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage body tissues, joints, and even organs. Managing lupus means Linda needs to protect herself from sun exposure. If not, the disease could flare up in the form of skin rashes or other complications. “Is it possible to get rid of it?” Nate asked. “Well, I’m on a lot of medications,” she responded.

We find ourselves visiting with so many strangers we meet across the country and are constantly amazed by their stories. What seems initially to be pure happenstance, we quickly realize is undeniable serendipitous wildness. Each time we find ourselves feeling like things just aren’t happening as we’d expect or hope, we are reminded of our inability to control the who, how, and when. Project Wildness tends to unfold exactly as it should, when it should, and how it should. And there is a humbling beauty in that.

Trust that all will unfold exactly as it should. #ProjectWildness #LiveWildness #GoodInspiresGood

To Janie… You placed trust in us that we would find exactly where your donation should be used, and Linda seemed like the perfect candidate. Not only did you help her get one step closer to seeing a new place, you got her one step closer to her fundraising goal. Before you know it, she’ll be hopping a bus to New York, something made possible by you! Know that what you did to help another today was so appreciated. It did not go unnoticed. Thank you for lending your helping hand!

To Kim and Bonnie… We may have never met, but you donated knowing you could help brighten the day of a stranger we met. You helped Linda make her way to a church conference she was so excited to attend and we can’t thank you enough for that. Those tears were tears of pure joy and astonishment. And that feeling was made possible by people like you. Thank you for the good you do and the trust you put in us!

 

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