Walking A Mile For Rod

Posted by Trushna Mehta on Jun 19, 2011
11824 reads  

Our friend, fellow CF'er, Rod Gardner recently suffered a stroke -- and a few of us wanted to tag him with act of kindness.  The idea is to "Walk a Mile for Rod" in your community, pick up any spare change you find on the streets, donate it to a soup kitchen and send me a story/photo/art/video about it so I put it all together and hand-deliver it to him.

Some of you might recall Rod from some of the CF retreats.   Rod and his wife Connie (both in their 70s) spend two hours a day walking, to get their daily bit of exercise.  Along the way, they keep their eyes open for spare change, mostly pennies, that people have dropped and they pick it up and collect it.  When the coin-bags in their home become heavy (25 lbs), they carry it and walk to a local food shelter and donate it anonymously; to this day, the shelters will recognize them but don't know their names.  They've been doing this for the last 9 years and have probably donated about $2500 bucks this way. 

Homeless people have offered him money, he has returned wallets and traveler's check worth $500, and he has befriended the most unassuming folks from substance abusers to shopkeepers.  "Rather unexpectedly, it builds community," he said.  People would offer him change or even dollar bills -- and he would tell them that he only accepts what's found on the streets.  (In some cases, his well-wishers drop it on the ground so he picks it up in one of his rounds! :))   Rod talks about the "begging bowl" feeling of humility when he reaches into the gutter to pick up a penny; if you ask him, "You know that you can make more in an hour than you would during an entire year of picking up coins.  What do you think about that?"  Without skipping a beat, he says: "Actually, I never think about that."  For Rod, it's about the process, not the outcomes.

It'll be beautiful to honor Rod's spirit by our walks.  If you and/or your friends are open do this, please share a photo or an idea or a reflection in the comment section below and I'll be happy to creatively collage it all together and hand-deliver it to Rod!

 

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Comments (4)

  • Pancho wrote ...

    Last week, I dedicated a 2 hour bike ride to Rod -- being mindful of all the little things I saw along the way and thinking of ways that someone's waste can helpful to the world in other ways.

    As I was riding gently along, lo and behold, I see lots and lots of ripe apricots by this one tree ... so I picked them up, and brough them as Rod's offering for the 60+ people who were attending Wednesday this week. Everyone loved it!

  • Kanchan wrote ...

    I dedicate the following write up to my dear hermano Pancho. As always, he steps it up and inspires me. He promises to walk but instead ends up biking for 2 hours. I kept looking for pennies but he was open to all possibilities and ended up nourishing 60+ people with a fruit of his good intentions and hard work... I love you hermano and hope to be more like you, one small act at a time... Day 1 - Walk 1 Filled with inspiration, after reading Rod’s story, I decided to be more mindful while walking to work one day. The distance from home to work was 1.2 miles and so it was a perfect opportunity to dedicate this walk to Rod. As I started walking, I realized how difficult it is to walk making sure you are scanning the area in front of you for coins or something of value. I kept lookin [...] See full comment.
    I dedicate the following write up to my dear hermano Pancho. As always, he steps it up and inspires me. He promises to walk but instead ends up biking for 2 hours. I kept looking for pennies but he was open to all possibilities and ended up nourishing 60+ people with a fruit of his good intentions and hard work...

    I love you hermano and hope to be more like you, one small act at a time...

    Day 1 - Walk 1

    Filled with inspiration, after reading Rod’s story, I decided to be more mindful while walking to work one day. The distance from home to work was 1.2 miles and so it was a perfect opportunity to dedicate this walk to Rod. As I started walking, I realized how difficult it is to walk making sure you are scanning the area in front of you for coins or something of value. I kept looking but did not find a thing! Do you know what I found in abundance? Cigarette butts! It surprises me to see

    a) how prevalent smoking still is. I am living in a bubble in a community of friends who don’t smoke and so was living a perception that “smoking “ is on the decline :)

    b) how many people there are who don’t care about the environment and carelessly throw cigarette butts on the street – on second thoughts, it is not surprising because I cannot expect them to care about the environment if they don’t care about their own health…

    I kept walking…and my mind kept doing its thing. It started analyzing and questioning why I was doing this and how it did not make sense and if it really was going to make a difference if I found a penny. However, I was not ready to give up yet. Being connected to the cf posse for long enough, I knew that it was about inner transformation more than anything else. So maybe the point was not to find something of value but to keep walking my path with clear intention…and so I went on …the main motivation being,”I promised myself and Trushna that I will do this, and so I will not give up”….I reached work and did not really find any pennies or something of value that I could share with someone.

    Day 1 - Walk 2

    The same day, after work, I decided that I want to try one more time. I have a tendency to give up easily and so I thought – let me try one more time. The thought that Rod has been doing this for so many years, was very humbling. It was a different Kanchan that was walking the path this time. The transformation had already begun…I walked from work to home…same 1.2 miles, same route but with a different mindset…This time my heart was filled with humility and I was sending metta to Rod. Respect for him and his wife grew with every single step…and I kept walking. I finally reached home , with a sense of fulfillment for doing what I promised to do and tremendous respect for Rod. I took off my shoes and just as I was resting my laptop bag by the shoe stand, I noticed something!! Lo behold! There was a penny lying right by the shoe stand!

    I am still not sure if technically this counts as a part of my walk since I was already inside the house.

    I was thrilled beyond my wildest expectations. This inspired me not to give up so easily and if I keep trying, I will see signs, signs of hope, like this one. And the signs might appear at the very end of the walk..but I need to keep looking, keep walking and keep hoping.. Thanks Rod for teaching me this lesson…

    Yet another day…

    Several days later, I was shopping at a farmers market and while I was waiting in the line to pay, I noticed a penny on the ground, right under weighing machine..I had totally forgotten about the walk and seeing the penny reminded me of Rod and I picked it up beaming with a big smile J

    Rod,

    I have a long way to go before I start contributing and adding value to people’s lives like you do.
    Thanks a lot for inspiring this inner change and sowing a seed of humility and persistence in me.
    Hats off to you for doing what you do and being who you are. I am sure that every time I see a penny or a dime on the street, I will think of you. And it will remind me of the lesson I learned because of the few steps I took on your path.

    I want to let you know that you have sowed seeds of inspiration in so many people like me! I am sure we will find a way to look for pennies on our paths and make sure that every penny is paid forward towards inner transformation in me and others who come in contact with me.
    Hide full comment.

  • Pavi wrote ...

    Thank you Trush, Pancho & Kanchan!

    Wanted to share a quote that I've long loved, and that I believe truly does capture the significance of all the Rods of our world.

    "I've been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But -- and this is the point -- who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded with the site of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple." - Annie Dillard

  • Paul wrote ...

    I took a long walk today in honor of Rod and being in a relatively poor South American country, there was little on the ground to be collected. As I continued, my eyes moved from ground to doorways and I found myself doing the most natural thing I could think of: holding open a door in an old Portugese church. This simple act of service brought somewhat surprised smiles from the older folks that were entering, bundled against a winter wind. I felt barriers fall more rapidly than any of my fledgling attempts to speak Spanish. Thanks Rod for this gift.