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Archive for August, 2011

Day 52   Tuesday, August 30   Middlegate Station to Fallon, NV   59 miles

I definitely am beginning to return to the world now.

Off to Fallon

Leaving Middlegate Station

I arrived in Fallon, NV in the early afternoon after a short, but hot ride from Middlegate Station.  I think I probably used the term “barren” prematurely in the days prior to today.  Until I neared Fallon, the landscape out of Middlegate Station became more and more barren until it felt almost as if I was riding through an oversized sandbox.  I have stopped in days prior alongside the road to fill a water bottle, get a snack from my packs, or take a picture.  I did the same today, but I realized that I had to force myself to stop.  I just wanted to keep moving and not linger too long out in the suffocating heat.

Sand Mountain

The biggest sand dune I have ever seen!

I did, however, stop to linger a couple of times.  This is sort of important as it has taken me this long to finally get this lesson.  I discovered with the distance between Middlegate Station and Fallon being only 47 miles that I felt no pressure about the riding.  In days past I wouldn’t have veered far off course for fear that adding 3 or 4 miles might just be the miles that put me over the top.  I actually rode 59 miles today, but 12 of those were unplanned miles.  I veered off course just about one mile to see the Sand Springs Recreation Area.  Then after getting to town and having a refreshing shower I rode around the town of Fallon in my street clothes.  Earlier in the day I even stopped for a few minutes to watch the Navy jets doing practice bombing runs.  That was an eerie experience!

Nevada sand

Just milesof sand rimmed by barren mountains. Phew!

So…if I had to plan this trip over again I would have planned for about 50 miles a day between destinations so that there was more room for spontaneous side trips, stopping for 30 minutes by a creek and soaking my feet, or lingering a little longer over a good conversation.  But, why wait until the next pilgrimage or trip?  The fact of that matter is that this is a lesson I need to bring back home with me.  It seems that I am brought back repeatedly to this Shorter Catechism answer, “The chief end of man is the glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  That mantra has nagged at me the whole trip and today I think I tasted a little of what that life feels like.  Slowly and surely I will get it.  My friends and family are counting on it.  Enjoy, Brian, enjoy!

Entering Fallon

Irrigation can do wonders to the desert...nearing Fallon

As I said I am now returning to the world.  Nearing Fallon the terrain shifted fairly rapidly from barrenness to irrigated farmland.  I am essentially at the end of the “Loneliest Road in America” and am emerging prepared for a new chapter in this pilgrimage.  I would say that it is coincidental that as I emerge from the desert I also am reconnecting with my life and people.  But, at this point I am convinced that none of this is coincidental.  It’s as if the themes, pacing, and landscape of the pilgrimage and my life feed off of each other.

 I was hoping and expecting to ride my way home depending on the support and connections from my extended Presbyterian family, longtime friends, and my new Warmshowers friends.  As of tonight I have six churches who are trying to host me and/or schedule me to speak with their members.  With two Warmshowers hosts I now have places to stay all the way to San Francisco and into the North Bay.

I am feeling both apprehensive and excited about sharing what I have learned and heard on this trip.  Our mainline congregations have been on a steady decline for over 40 years.  The good news is that the religious impulse is strong out here.  People are asking and pondering the basic religious questions about who we are, the nature of our connections with each other, and our relationship with the natural world.  People are talking, thinking and exploring.  The bad news is that the trust put in the Church to be a safe, open and honest place to wrestle with those questions is very low.

It is time to return to my life, my people, and my community again.  I did fear going into the desert afraid that it might mentally break me as I was yearning more and to return to the comfort of home (whatever that will mean).  I am glad that I didn’t take the Greyhound bus.  I am glad that I had this final test where I had to dig deep before coming back into my life and the world.  I don’t think it would have been the same experience if I had leapfrogged over Nevada straight into the beauty of Lake Tahoe and California.  It might have been easier, but it would not have been true to the rhythm of life as I know it.  We all have times in our lives when we have to go through the wilderness before emerging stronger.

Now I can smile as I reach toward California.  I have a history there.  I have friends and family.  I have a church community I helped charter.  It feels like the beginning of another chapter.

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Day 51   Monday, August 29   Austin to Middlegate Station, NV   64 miles

On to Carroll Summit

Plenty of time to anticipate Carroll Summit

Ah yes…images of leisure cropped up for me again today.  As I neared the second climb of the day I once again yearned for a wine country bike tour–5 miles, glass of cabernet, 5 more miles, a crisp chardonnay, repeat steps one and two as often as necessary.  The second image was being able to sit on my bed with a good novel.  I mailed my last one back home while in Ely and haven’t found a book store since.  Carson City is just two days away and a book is definitely on the agenda.  A third image has me looking forward to getting to the coast for the final leg of the tour where the ocean air will be a welcome prize for surviving the desert heat.

Carrol Summit

The lovely reward on the other side of the summit

I have nearly come out the other side of this particular wilderness.  It’s strange.  Physically, I feel fine.  Today I rode 64 miles with two moderately difficult climbs.  As I pulled into Middlegate Station (an old stage coach stop that hasn’t changed much) I felt like I could have gone another 25-30 miles without pushing myself too close to the edge.  I feel like I just get stronger every week.  It’s the mental fatigue that I feel today and, I think, began yesterday as I described that I just didn’t have much on my mind.  It was probably less a Zen moment than simple tiredness!

Nevada desert

A stark and reflective kind of beauty

Actually, I am sure the heat and the dry conditions are at the root of much of this.  It is one thing to wake up in the morning and prepare to ride next to a mountain stream all day.  It’s another thing to wake up and begin the routine of calculating food, water, time, wind conditions, heat and storms and trying to get to the next oasis before the conditions drain the last ounce of energy from you.

Middlegate Station

Middlegate Station where I am staying the night. Great hamburgers!

Tomorrow and Wednesday should be reasonably easy days.  Fallon is only 50 miles away and even though I could do more miles than that Carson City is another 60 miles beyond that.  The shorter days and arriving in two large towns with more services feels like a bit of a reprieve.  I said in an earlier post that each of the days on this “Loneliest Road in America” look doable, but it was the package of doing a number of days like this in a row that would be the challenge.  That has been the case.  It just wears one down one day at a time.  I am not begging mercy, by any means.  But, I do recognize the mental fatigue tonight even as my legs feel ready to go again.

Peter and the Camino

Meeting fellow cyclist and fellow pilgrim Peter at the International Cafe

In closing, the Camino de Santiago, a religious pilgrimage in Spain that dates back hundreds of years has come up a number of times.  One of my church members did a portion of it two years ago.  I stayed with a Warmshowers host who had completed it by bike recently.  One of the commenters to this site linked me in with a bike tour group that organizes bike pilgrimages on the Camino.  And this morning I met Peter in the same International Cafe in Austin who had completed it by bike a few years ago and has a certificate to show for it.

Open Range cow

The cows have been my special friends!

I have thought about what comes next after this pilgrimage.  Leading a group on the Camino de Santiago certainly has crossed my mind.  I just think how our spirituality these days is tied so intimatelywith idea of journey, openness and discovery.  This pilgrimage has convinced me that there is no substitute for the kind of depth, reflection, growth and connection that one discovers on the road.

For now, though, it is best I keep focused on this pilgrimage and let the next one unfold in its own time.  This pilgrimage is now calling for sleep.

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Day 50   Sunday, August 28   Eureka to Austin, NV   70 miles

I had sort of an empty and mindless day of riding today.  As I sit here on an overly soft bed (not complaining!) I can think of very little that I thought about or of any significant events while riding.  I have had so many momentous days that it was kind of refreshing for my mind to largely go blank for awhile.  I hear this is one of the goals of Buddhist meditation.  I clearly have a long ways to go.

Eureka courthouse

The historic courthouse in Eureka

I spent a leisurely morning taking a few pictures of downtown Eureka after having an exceptionally good breakfast at the Owl Cafe across from the motel.  I wasn’t anticipating a difficult day of riding as the first 40+ miles were expected to be fairly flat.  I knew that the ride was going to end with a false summit climb of 1600 feet followed by another 500 feet after a short descent.

Eureka to Austin

How the day looked between Eureka and Austin, NV

The descent was much steeper than I had expected and although it wasn’t especially long (about 11 miles) I had to dig deep.  By the time I arrived in Austin 90 minutes later my stomach didn’t feel right.  I recognized the feeling.  It’s the same feeling an athlete gets when running wind sprints going into the anaerobic mode and exceeding your oxygen intake.  It took most of the evening to recover and get my stomach settled back down again.

International Cafe

The International Cafe where religion, truth, spirituality and life was the topic

The real energy of the day took place at the restaurant where I consumed a small tasty pizza loaded with vegetables.  I ended up in three separate conversations about religion, rituals, knowledge, gnosticsism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, absolute truth, and belief.  I talked with Bonnie who worked in the restaurant. She described herself as an agnostic and shared with me that some of her best conversations come with her friend, the minister.  Then Mikey had stopped in with his friend on the way to Burning Man and we talked about the need for rituals and rites of passages in our lives.  I asked him about Burning Man and he described what it is that attracts him to this growing annual community ceremony.

The last of these three conversations was with Eric and Kent where we talked the evening away on the open deck in front of the restaurant.  Kent is an emergency room doctor who also teaches science of the mind and philosophy at the University of Colorado.  Eric runs a dog walking business in San Francisco and lives near family in Austin, TX.  The three of us explored a number of topics and really honed in for a time on the decline of institutional Christianity and the new questions and realities facing today’s people and culture.

I cannot share all that was shared in the three conversations, but I can share the message I am hearing in meeting with people all along my route.  The message is clear: “It’s all about conversation and dialogue right now!”  This is where the energy is.  What I find is that people are wary of certainty and aren’t even looking for it.  I am not finding people looking for the “one right answer”.  There is more a spirit of exploring, reflecting, contemplating, sharing and questioning.

I am finding that when I share that I am out listening for the story of the shift from institutional religion to personal spirituality, people start to share their story, their background, and their values and beliefs.  I cannot tell you what is happening or what all of this means.  What I can tell you is that there is energy in just allowing for and engaging in the conversation.  Eastninster, where I serve as pastor, has as its unofficial motto these days, “Follow the energy”.  I am convinced that the future of Christian spiritual community will not be in getting the answers right, but in providing a safe, nurturing place for people explore the questions together in community.

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Playing with the gods!

Day 49   Saturday, August 27   Ely to Eureka, NV   78 miles

The Loneliest Road

Leaving Ely with a friendly reminder!

What a wonderful adventure today.  It was playful, engaging, a bit edgy and challenging.  I actually started the day off a little slowly.  Knowing that I had three passes to climb while my mind has moved more and more on to California and Oregon, I entered the ride with a a sort of “Here we go again” attitude.  I can remember the exact moment that my mind went from counting miles to actually enjoying what was right before me.  I had a pleasant climb up the first pass partly aided by a gentle tailwind and the lightness of my bike due to sending my camping gear home.

Nevada storms

The first signs of these storms roving across the Nevada desert

Between the first two climbs I entered a long, broad expansive valley.  That is where the ride took an interesting turn.  To the left of me a dark sheet of rain was descending out of a cloud about 6-8 miles off.  To the right of me lightning and thunder were just starting to gear up.  This was less than 2 miles away (You do know how to tell how far lightning is, right?  Count how many seconds between the lightning and the thunder and multiply by 1100 feet.  A 5-second count means the lightning is just beyond one mile).  I rode between these two thunderstorms watching very carefully which way the wind was taking them.  I was just a little nervous about being in a landscape with no trees while lightning was striking.  I kept in the back of my mind that there would be no shame in throwing my bike in the back of a pickup truck if it got too scary.

Little Antelope Summit

Cresting the second summit with signs of what is to come in the background

I slipped between these two storms, climbed the second pass successfully and entered the next long valley before the final pass.  The storms continued and what began as isolated storms multiplied to the point where I was watching the movement of these fast moving threatening storms on all four sides.  At one point I was riding right at the edge of one of the storms hoping it was going to pass on by.  It didn’t.  Suddenly the sky opened up and driving rain was hitting me like little missiles while the pauses between lightning and thunder became almost non-existent.  I quickly carried my bike just a few yards off the road into a small host of juniper trees.  For the next half hour I sat in one of these overgrown bushes while the storm let loose.  It was actually like sitting in a high tech theater.  Once I found a spot where I had limited the amount of rain that was hitting me, I was able to peer out of the branches and watch the dancing lightning and listen to the booming percussion of the thunder.  It was soulfully rich.

The storm

10 minutes after I ride through this spot I look back.

The rest of the ride became sort of an engaging and playful game trying to assess when to move forward, when to stall, when to seek shelter, and when to wave down a passing truck.  At one point I came upon the only structure I saw all day–an old boarded up house that had three trees out front.  It was the only shelter I had seen for miles and the terrain ahead of me appeared to be completely barren of anything but sagebrush.  I could see one of those draping curtains of rain just to the left of the road but the rest looked reasonably clear.  I decided to move forward unsure of whether I was riding into another violent cloudburst.  Ten minutes later I looked back where I had come from and the house and trees were completely enveloped in a violent downpour.  This is not Oregon rain that settles in and drizzles annoyingly all day.  These storms may only last a few minutes, but they are like bulldozers coming through–the winds whip up, lightning and thunder surround you, and the rain is painful as it is propelled by the wind.

 

Juniper tree

Peering out from out of the juniper tree while the storm blows through

I had a wonderful time!  I felt so alive as the elements of nature tested me, engaged me, and challenged me as if we were trying to outwit each other in a close chess match.  I think there is a fine line between living right at the edge of something where all of your senses are fully active and alert and tempting fate by falling over the edge.  Today, I felt like I was just this side of the line.  There was a whole theater of unpredictable storms around me in an essentially barren terrain.  I had fun playing and trying to weave my way through these storms as if I was a character in an arcade game.  But, I was also very aware that one misjudgment could result in being caught right in the path of one of these storms and I was ready to put my thumb out if needed.  Rain is one thing, but being the tallest thing in the desert when lightning is dancing across the sky is not my idea of fun.

What is it about this that is so enriching and enlivening?  I remember many years ago when I lived in Wisconsin right on Lake Michigan.  In the winter I would walk along the lake as the waves would come crashing into the shoreline rocks.  I can remember this feeling of wanting to join the waves–not out of some morbid fascination with death, but to join the power of nature in its sublime beauty.  I felt it again a few weeks ago when I was looking at the Upper Falls in Yellowstone Park from the viewing point that is pressed right to the edge of the canyon rim.  I had to stand three feet back.  Again, not because I was afraid of falling, but because the beauty of the deeply carved canyon with the falls crashing below almost draws one toward it.  You want to be part of it, even as you know that doing so means coming face to face with God in a more permanent way!

First summit

Taking a break at the top of the first summit

It’s interesting that when ministers are asked what their most formative Christian spiritual experience was that led to their choice of vocation that something like half of them say, “Summer church camp!”  In our comments section there has been some interest in exploring what “Earth Church” might look like.   A highly successful Jewish spiritual community in Boulder, CO is centered around activities where people experience God in nature.  Check out their website at www.adventurerabbi.org.  There has also been a resurgence in exploring Celtic Christianity and nature-based spiritualities.

I think there is something to this cultural yearning we are having about returning to nature.  I am not sure what the full message is yet.  But, I do wonder if our traditions have lost touch with our connection to nature as we moved to the cities and our religious traditions became more rooted in buildings and social networks.  I do know that today I felt like God and I were playfully teasing each other in a way that I often don’t get in my church experience.

I felt alive today, engaged, and as close to the divine presence as I have felt on this trip so far.  I do know that I was playing awfully close to the edge.  But, given the choice between the comfort of a La-Z-Boy and dodging storms I know I am in the right place!

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Pilgrimage as Life

Day 48   Friday, August 26   Ely, NV   Rest Day   0 miles

Today I made a fairly significant decision.  I took all of my camping gear including my tent, sleeping bag, pad and cooking gear and sent it UPS back to Portland.  The result is that my load is now 40% percent lighter, 30 pounds down from 50 pounds.  I have been comtemplating this move for a number of days as a new purpose has been emerging as I round the final corner and begin heading for home.

I have been feeling that this next step is to now to share what I have heard and to listen to the Church over these last three weeks and 1,500 miles.  My hope (even expectation) is that I will be able to stay in the homes of church members for the bulk of my remaining days.  There are 65 Presbyterian churches directely on my route, so if even a third of them would be willing to host me and have a conversation I should be able to rely on the church community to bring me home. 

However, I didn’t decide to finally box up my gear until I had first mapped out the Warmshowers homes also on the route.  About 2/3rds of the towns that I will pass through also have Warmshower hosts, so I am feeling fairly secure that if my plan to hop from church community to church community doesn’t pan out I won’t be left homeless for a night.  I should be able to sew together a combination of churches, warmshowers and motels.

I am continually suprised by how this pilgrimage mirrors my life itself.  I felt many months ago that I was being pychologically pushed into this pilgrimage by an inner force that wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I can’t tell whether the growth I am having is due to the pilgrimage or if the growth is driving the pilgrimage.  Most likely it is a little of both and the two are feeding off each other.

Today is a rich example.  I just physically let go of a good deal of my load.  I just lightened up the burden that I have been carrying.  Today also just happens to be what would have been my 30th anniversary from my marriage than ended five years ago.  This five year mark is significant for me as I have felt in recent months that it represented a threshold into a new life.  I have spent the last five years overcoming and surviving the effects of the divorce financially and emotionally.  That is all good.  But, as long as I continue to remain stuck in a pattern of survival, I am still defining myself by the divorce rather than by who I am and where I want to go wtih my life.  It’s one of the reasons I have spent this time revisiting my childhood homes.

I realize that crossing this threshold cannot happen in one day as if this symbolic anniversary day marks the beginning of something new.  I realize it is process tha has already been unfolding and will continue to unfold for months, maybe years to come.  Nonetheless, today I let go of some of the baggage that has been weighing me down.  I lightened up a bit and eased the burden that I have been carrying.  I want to make sure that as make this journey home that I can enjoy the remaining miles and days and not dread them.  I want to return home knowing that I didn’t just survive the ride, but that I thrived in the richness of this pilgrimage.

Am I talking about my life on the bike or my life following divorce?  I know, it seems to blend together until I can’t tell one from the other.  Either way, I am glad to have let go of some of the weight of my life.  I am relieved to have allowed myself to lighten up.  I know it will serve me well on the bike.  If this pilgrimage stays true to form, it will also serve me well in my life to come.  I don’t think this pilgrimage is a break from the routines of life.  It is a mirror of life itself.

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Life is fragile…give thanks

Day 47   Thursday, August 25   Border Inn to Ely, NV   65 miles

Leaving Border Inn

Getting back on the road again at the Utah/Nevada border

I ended my post last night saying, “I am just where I need to be.”  I had no idea how true those words would become for me today and for one very lucky young woman.  This is hard to write tonight.  I was 13 miles into the first climb of the day when I looked up and just caught an out of control car slip onto the soft shoulder in her lane, over-correct, slam into the embankment in front of me on my side of the road and then bounce over rocks until a boulder very abrubtly brought her vehicle to a frightening sudden stop.  A cloud of dust engulfed me and I made my way to her car as it cleared.

Thank God, she was basically okay.  No major injuries, just some cuts and scrapes and probably some bruises that are going to be very uncomfortable for her tomorrow.  I am not a mechanic, but I am sure this one month old car was totaled.

The Car

The car where it came to rest

Over the next few minutes as individual cars came by I asked them to make calls to 911 as soon as they had cell phone coverage.  We had no coverage at the Border Inn 13 miles prior and Ely was still 50 miles away.  Eventually a BLM truck came by 45 minutes after the accident and they were able to radio in a call for help.  75 minutes after the accident a sheriff finally arrived from Ely and was able to handle the situation from there.

I feel a lump in my throat as I think about my words from last night, “I am just where I need to be.”  I am so glad that I was right there when it happened and immediately could step in and help her get calmed down so we could make decisions about how to get help.  I also am aware that had she lost control 150 feet later or if that rock hadn’t stopped the car in front of me that this could have been a very different story.

MajorJunction Bar

The unexpected bar that filled water bottles and set me at ease

After the sheriff had things under control and told me I could leave, she gave me a hug and said, “Thank you.  You saved my life.”  I thought that was a bit exaggerated as all I did was stay with her, directed passing vehicles how to help, and offered her some of my water.  I responded by saying, “I was glad to sit with you until some help arrived.”  That’s when she realized that I didn’t get what she was trying to say.  She corrected me and said, “I really believe you saved my life.  If you hadn’t been here with your connection (she pointed to the heavens) I don’t think I’d be alive.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t consider my ordained status to be a sign of a privileged place in God’s eyes.  If anything I think of my role as just helping others to see how much the God-presence is alive and active in each one of us.  But, this was not the moment to try to clear up her perception.  In fact, her belief was the root of her gratitude that she knew she was lucky to be alive.  Her expression was not really about me, but about feeling deeply thankful that she had survived what must have been a terrifying few seconds for her.

Great Basin Park

Looking toward Great Basin Park

I don’t know what to make of this all tonight.  I find it interesting that yesterday the theme of acceptance was beginning to color my thoughts.  This acceptance is rooted in an erosion of trying to make the world in my image and beginning to accept life for what it is.  As my new friend in Three Forks, Montana said, “The greatest lesson of all is learning to accept life on life’s terms.”  With the losses I have sustained over recent years I find myself allowing for greater acceptance of the tragic and sad side of life.  And then this–a driver loses control of her car and I find myself doing what I have done for years as a minister and hospice employee–just being present with those who are in one form of crisis or another.

Ely

The town of Ely, NV below the mountain and in the desert

The rest of day was just plain tough.  A viscious headwind made a 10 mile climb much more challenging than I had anticipated.  And because I had given up some of my water at the crash I was nervous about making it all the way to Ely well-hydrated.  With the two hour delay from the crash it put my ride later into the heat of the day.  I was spent when I finally arrived in Ely at 5:30 p.m.  Even before I arrived, I made the decision to take tomorrow off from riding.  The last three days have been difficult from the heat and I could tell that I wasn’t going to get enough recovery tonight to be confident about the 80 mile ride tomorrow over three passes.  In fact, I think it might have broken me.  I think the crash has something to do with that.  I need the time to get myself settled back down again and actually take the time to feel what happened today.  I went from handling that to immediately concentrating on getting into Ely safely–no time to let down from all the intensity of the day.

I do believe that I am just where I need to be.  But, I am shaken a bit.  I am not sure if I was in the right place at the right time today or if I was nearly in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Life is very fragile. This is just the way it is.  I just am not big enough and strong enough to control every situation.  It’s a lesson I am slowly learning to accept.

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Day 46   Wednesday, August 24   Delta, UT to Border Inn, NV   90 miles

 

Leaving Delta

Entering the region of the "Loneliest Road in America"

I am not sure exactly what to say about today.  Have you ever had the feeling that you know something has happened to you, but you can’t quite put your finger on it?  The feeling is there, but the words haven’t quite yet formed yet.  That is how I am feeling about today.  There is a reason they call this the “Loneliest Road in America”.  I was struck by two things about that description.  The first is that I thought it probably was just referring to the lack of services, homes and ranches along the way.  I am sure that is part of it.  The road was also very lightly traveled.  I often went five or ten minutes without seeing another vehicle, semi, or RV pass me by.  Vehicles are often separated by many, many miles.

The Loneliest Road

The road stretches as far as the eyes can see

The second thing that struck me is that distance is very deceptive out here.  I haven’t had this experience anywhere else before.  There were times when I could see the road stretch far out ahead of me thinking that the next bend is, oh, three or four miles out.  It was often at least double that.  At other times I would watch a vehicle travel down the road to see if the road was going up the hill or down the valley (anticipating what is next).  A couple of times I would watch as a semi would melt into the road as I could see the outline of the road miles out, but the vehicles would shrink until there was nothing left to them.

Alkili lake

A vast alkili lake rests in the valley floor

I found this vast openness to be almost comforting and soothing.  Yes, it is a little unnerving at the same time to be out where there is little support, no drinkable water, and heat that just wrings the moisture out of one’s body.  I had prepared well, in fact, probably over-prepared with regard to water and hydration.  This allowed me to ease into the experience and enjoy the emptiness, the broad sweeping landscapes, and the invitation to reflection.

The Lowe Brothers

The bike seems to invite conversations. Here with the 4 Lowe brothers who meet annually for a brothers' camping trip.

This is where I am not sure exactly what to say about the day except that one word seems to be at the center of what is percolating up for me—acceptance.  Something about where I am in the trip at this point is bringing me into a place of acceptance.  I needed to do something that I knew would take me to my limits.  If I had chosen something easy and enjoyable I would have still had this unsettled feeling that I needed to go out and push myself and really see what I am capable of.  I am definitely getting that on this pilgrimage.  I am strong.  I know that.  But, this pilgrimage is helping me to also acknowledge my limits.  I have often felt limited by my circumstances rather than my abilities.  This pilgrimage has been a reality check highlighting both my strengths and my limitations.

Sacred rock

Nature's sacred architecture

I am coming face to face with the fact that I can’t simply will something into existence by the sheer force of my determination or personality. I have often lived by the philosophy that you can be and do anything you want if you put your mind to it.  In recent years I have been discovering that are some things in life, in fact, most things, that are bigger than me and beyond my ability to control them or shape them.  Things like mountain passes and deserts. Things like losses, deaths, disappointments, recessions, and the general shape of the world.

I am sitting in a comfortable sadness tonight.  It is a sadness for the way life sometimes turns out.  Yet, it is not a sadness that I want to chase away or medicate.  It’s a rich, deep sadness that seems to blossom out of a place of acceptance.  Acceptance of the way life is.

Rainbow by Border Inn

The day closes with a rainbow

I am not sure what it is about this landscape that gives permission to just let go.  There are no trees at all anywhere.  There is nothing to distract the eyes and ears.  There were many moments today when I dismounted my bike and understood what a “deafening silence” is. With the road that stretches as far as the eyes can see and a landscape that is deceptively much more vast than your senses will accept, it really is you and God out here.  There are no games and tricks that can help you dance around the reality of your life and life itself.  There is no running away, no running to.  There is only what is right before you at that moment.

Forget the Greyhound.  I am just where I need to be.

 

 

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