Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still haven't found what I'm looking for

Spring Break meets the Tao of Poo.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Thursday afternoon, I jogged through the shoreline sand to catch up with two college students who had walked ahead while I shot video of them. They were in flip-flops, board shorts, T-shirts and sunglasses. I was inappropriately clothed for the beach, and my dress shoes weren’t helping me get traction in the sand.

The bright red shirt and black slacks earned me some dubious glances from the sunbathers. So did, I’m sure, the sight of a gray-bearded guy with a funny hat shooting video in the middle of Spring Break.

My companions for the afternoon were students from the Campus Crusade for Christ, who were strolling on the beach in hopes of sensing a person in the crowd who might be open to having a spiritual conversation. “Divine appointments,” they call them.

I’d been having these sorts of conversations on a daily basis lately, as one story has led me to the next. A talk about paddle boarding directs me to a local surfer/pastor/comic book artist, which leads me to the Christian Surfers Association. A story about free pancakes for spring breakers provided by a Christian group is across the street from the annual Campus Crusade rally, where the students gently turn the questions on me.

“Do you mind me asking …” the question begins. It’s how I have started any number of interviews, and the young woman asking me uses the technique well. No, I don’t mind you asking. I will do my best to answer.

Even a visit to Zen Garden Market turns into a talk about the healthy body/mind/spirit connection. A belly dance teacher stops short of bringing enlightenment into the equation, but it hangs unspoken in the air. Later, I stop in at a Goodwill store and walk out with a book called “Zen Environment.” Maybe I’m just impressionable.

Someone early in the week said I was soon going to be pegged as that guy who only writes about Christians. I thought that was funny because a friend still kids me about all the wiccans, pagans, palm readers, numerologists and Goths I wrote about back in the day.

“Found any witches to report on lately?” he says.

No, but I’m looking. If I find them among my divine appointments, I hope they don’t mind me asking.

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