The thing about sunrises, if you can catch a good one, is they just get better and better until they turn into the beginning of a day. This day, the only one like it that ever was and ever will be, is born before your eyes. And so if you want to get up early, you have the chance to witness a miracle every day of your life. Life happens somewhere between that particular pain of accepting that your life is not what you’d expected it to be and the unbounded joy that it is actually more than you could have ever dreamed.
The truly brave among us are those that can look at this day and all the things we have been given in it and say, this is enough for me. To those that say, this is my life and I accept it exactly how it is, those are the heroes we never consider, that live beside us silently enjoying their serenity.
I met Evan Hays several years ago at Konawaena Middle School, both of us teachers. I was in my very first year and terrified. Evan is the kind of person who made it a point to come to my classroom to see how I was doing, checking on me a couple times a week. He told me it was ok to cry in your first year of teaching, that even he had done it.
Through mutual friends we became closer, and I spent many sunset evenings on the beach with he and his wife Roz and a group of good friends. He now runs an inn in South Dakota with his wife and two children. He works hard, he plays hard, but all you ever see is easy. Evan is the guy that’s easy to be with, to talk to, about anything.
He doesn’t raise the Jesus flag, ask you about your religious ideals, or even suggest that you go to church. He simply lives his life in peaceful serenity, unquestionably surrounded by grace. His ordinary yet stunningly extraordinary faith bleeds out and onto everyone he comes in contact with. He does not need to tell you what he believes, because he lives it.
Very few of you know that in the last couple years, since leaving Hawaii, I have experienced some powerful religious moments that can safely be called spiritual growth. People like Evan Hays have stood quietly in the background, cheering me on, nudging me forward. He likely has no idea the impact his faith has had on my life.
God has placed these type of people in my life because I needed to see real people who were not weirdos, living a faith-based life. I had given up on being a Christian long ago because it seemed so abstract, untrue and manipulative. It is people like Evan who have shown me that my faith is what I make of it, that God is just love and that love is accessible to each of us at all times.
Last week Evan found himself in the ICU after a rock climbing accident in Colorado. His brain was injured to an extent we do not yet know. He is up and talking, but it will be a long road to recovery.
You might not know Evan personally, but you know him in other ways. He is the person who helps out without being asked, who enjoys each day to the last drop, who accepts people for who they are. He lives with a fire in his belly and joy in his heart. He is the guy with that intangible calm we all wish we had, some call it serenity, some call it faith, some call it humility. Whatever it is, the world needs more of it.
When I showed up at the Hays’ doorstep a couple years ago while crossing the country, they welcomed me without question. I was running away from home, wild and without direction. Evan talked with me about this, in his own way. I never felt judged or pried open, he just wanted me to know that I would be ok. That a higher power was taking care of everything I needed.
And so it is now that I reciprocate the gesture. A higher power is taking care of Evan and his family and everything they need. They will be ok. You know Evan, you know him. He is the man of quiet faith that never questions, just knows and believes and settles into placing his life into God’s hands in a brave and rare way.
Last November I wrote the very first words of my very first book (to be launched in less than a month!) in their cabin in South Dakota. Deep in the magical Black Hills, surrounded by snow and wood heat, I found inspiration. And I finally found God. You see I had been looking for him, all across the country and even over the plains in Spain. I found grace, also known as magical healing, through the family and friends of the Hays’.
Thank you Evan, for showing and guiding me by simply living your life.
It’s not uncommon to see a crowd funding campaign these days for hospital bills. I see them all the time in my Facebook feed or my email inbox. More often than not, I don’t know the person who needs help. More often than not, it is difficult to have a heart connection with someone you don’t know.
Please considering donating to cover the medical costs for Evan’s accident. Because while you might know Evan personally, trust me, you know him. And trust me twice, we need more people like him.
I will also be giving 10% of book sales of Follow That Arrow to Evan’s family for those that mention his name when pre-ordering the book. Which you can do now by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Simply mention Evan’s name in the subject or body of the email, payment will accept via Paypal for now, I will reply with details to your emails.