As I got my stove ready to boil some water she was well into getting wood for the fire. There was a stone fire ring in front of the shelter. I never made any fires the entire time I was going up the Appalachian trail, but other people did. At the end of the day the last thing I felt like doing was collecting wood. All I had the energy to do was eat and get some sleep.
Not everyone can build a fire. On one of her trips back to the fire pit with some branches I asked her where she learned how to make a fire. She said she took young children camping. She stood up, looked directly at me and with some degree of authority said she been doing it for years.
One of the twins and the young girl were sitting on a log between the shelter and the fire pit, facing the shelter. The young girl was reading pages of the shelter register. The older girl was applying blister medicine to her feet. I was still involved with diner. The the young girl said, “Who is Ja?” She was talking to me. I said, “it’s short for Jehovah.” When I looked up they were both sitting side by side with their knees drawn up. It was such a sight to see, as much as a sunset. I kept looking at them. Then she asked, “are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” “Yes,” I said, “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness.” It sounded like a confession.
The younger girl started to say something and the older girl leaned over to talk to her privately. Whatever she said it stopped the young girl in mid sentence. The older girl probably said don’t get him started. Then the younger girl in like fashion said to the older girl, but loud enough so I could hear, “I really want to know.
For a moment I thought of nothing else but Jehovah and how once again I needed help. There was 15 feet of open space between us. The older girl tried to look passive right after the young girl said what she did. Then the young girl looked at me with that same sense of authority, she was so grown up after all, and I said to her motioning to my torso, “Fire away, what do you want to know.”
“Is it true you don’t celebrate birthdays? She said that sincerely. “No,” I said. “I don’t do birthdays.” “I could never do that,” she said, and she looked at the older girl in agreement. “Do you know why that is,” I said. She said,“What?” like she didn’t hear me, and the older girl sitting beside her got up. She was alone on the log.
“The Bible is my foundation.” I said. “The reasons I don’t do birthdays come from the Bible. First, and foremost is the Bible principal that no God fearing person wants to draw attention to themselves. Second, Christ never talked about birthdays. Third, there are two birthdays specifically mentioned in the Bible and they are both hideous events. People get their heads chopped off at birthdays parties. There are about twenty reasons to each of those reasons. I’m sure a few of the 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world live in Indianapolis. If you are interested, any one of them would be glad to help you benefit yourself.”
I went back to my diner, and after dark got in my sleeping bag. She lit the fire. It started to rain hard and the fire went out. I heard her say as she climbed into the shelter the next person has wood. The only light was from headlamps. They were sitting cross legged on the floor playing cards. I heard one of the twins say loudly, “Do you want to play cards?” I didn’t know if she was talking to me or which twin it was. The shelter was full of people. I could not sit on the floor like they were even if I wanted to play cards. In the morning I got an early start and headed North.