Day 5 Thursday, July 14 Ochoco State Park to Dayville, OR 78 miles
I don’t think there is any way to describe today except to say that it is was pure goodness. Somewhere between the physical beauty of the terrain I was rolling through and my heart opening up to the experience, I simply felt pure goodness all day.
I mean this. Even on the one brutal climb, the second of the day, I was overcome by how much goodness there is around me and how much goodness I have been afforded in my life. In one stretch I found myself reciting my own version of the Navajo Pollen Path prayer:
“Beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty above me, beauty below me, beauty all around me. I am on the pollen path.”
I was riding for miles along a crisp stream with just the sound of the wind and the water rushing by. It was wonderfully meditative and soulfully healing. Twice I could see that what lay ahead were canyons with this same stream carving its way through the gorge. And I had just come from a night at Ochoco Reservoir where a full moon kept the lake and the hills splashed in a soft warm light throughout the night. So I do know that the physical beauty contributed to this feeling that I was participating in pure goodness.
There was more to it, however. I have had some rough moments in my life (like most of us, I imagine). As I recited “Beauty before me, beauty behind me” I could feel this deep sense of both acceptance and a softening toward the parts and the people of my life where hurt was inflicted. I could tell that I wasn’t just saying the words, “beauty behind me” as if that was the right and correct attitude. I was saying them because I truly felt that all of it has been a gift. Yes, even the hurt, the abandonment, and the loss that life has a way of inflicting. I had this deep sense of gratitude that despite the harshness of life at times, I had been invited to participate in this unfolding drama of life.
I felt strongly that this pilgrimage was going to be a “letting go” of some sorts. I have spent a lot of my life overcoming barriers, surviving losses, and succeeding despite hardships and a world that just doesn’t always play fairly. It has come at a cost, however. The problem with spending one’s life overcoming obstacles is that it splits the world into good experiences and bad experiences. I think I simply grew tired of seeing the world in such terms. Thus the invitation to a pilgrimage and a new way of seeing the world.
Today was filled with beauty. The terrain was breathtaking. A young woman smiled and said hello. White pelicans, larger than blue herons, took flight as I rode by. Headwinds sometimes slowed me to a crawl and then a tailwind lifted me in flight as I emerged from the mouth of a canyon. Even on that brutal hill (1400 feet of climbing in 7 miles, if you care to imagine it!) the challenge, the pain, and the sweat streaming down my face all became part of the pure goodness of the day.
Why does one see goodness all around them, in them, and through them one day and not another? I don’t know the answer to that. I do know that it was there today and I’ll accept that as a gift.
“Beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty all around me.”