Day 33 Thursday, August 11 Loveland Rest Day 0 miles
I wished I had something coherent to pass along tonight. Unfortunately, I feel like I have the Disneyland hangover. I think you know what I mean. At Disneyland there is so much visual, auditory, and visceral stimulation that one can hardly process the actual experience. I said in an earlier post that Loveland had it all in terms of both the disappointments and blessings of my early life. I feel like I have been able re-enter this world that shaped me so profoundly. I have been reminded of the gifts that Loveland offered me. And I also feel more at peace about letting go of a past that no longer lifts me up.
In these two days, I met with old friends. I had great conversations about life, growing up, and religion and spirituality, of course. I sat in the old park and ate a quick lunch and watched the parents play with their children just as I remember it from 40 years ago. I returned to Mountain View Presbyterian Church, the church that became as much of a family to me as my own nuclear family. I toured the building, recalled activities and friendships that were nurtured in certain rooms. I even went back to the pew I sat in the night I broke into the church just to have a quiet, sacred place to reflect and think about my life. This evening I had dinner with step-siblings and was reminded of the extended family with whom I am tied by marriages and blended stories. And I kept an ear open for a return call from my mother. The call didn’t come. Right now my head spinning with all the emotions, memories and conversation. After the sediment settles I should be able to make sense of it. It’s been rich. It’s been good. It’s been hard.
I have thought a lot about the coming few days. I was a competitive bicycle racer in Colorado in the early 1980’s. Tomorrow I will ride to Estes Park, a town I rode through dozens of times during training rides. I will stay at another Warmshowers home there before tackling Trail Ridge Road. As the highest point on this pilgrimage it has great significance. Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved highway in the world and crosses the pass at 12,187 feet. I have climbed it twice before, both times in my early 20’s. Not only is it the highest point, but I will be riding it at the midway point of this pilgrimage. Something about reaching the top of Trail Ridge makes me feel like I am crossing that threshold from “leaving home” to “coming home”. It will be a welcome feeling as I am yearning more and more to return to my people, my home, my community, and my life. There is still a lot to learn and discover, but the discoveries will now be shaped by what I am anticipating rather than what I am leaving. This circular pilgrimage has been a wise choice.
I somehow feel like tomorrow is the first day of another pilgrimage. I don’t think it is just the physical and mental rest I allowed for myself. I returned to my childhood home. I think I got what I needed and discovered what was real and what was projected. I feel like I can ride home in a growing field of freedom and grace. I am beginning to put something behind me and readying myself for the new life that may be waiting for me on the other end.
If all goes well Saturday, I will be on top of the world. Some gifts just need to be received in grace. Some gifts need to be earned. When I reach the top on Saturday (and I will!) I will have traveled 1800 miles and survived a torrential rainstorm in Yellowstone, long stretches of arid Wyoming high desert, the psychic exhaustion of daily rootlessness, and the reopening of old wounds and memories from my childhood. When I reach the top I will remind myself that I am stronger than I thought, that I am a survivor, that I belong to this beautiful land, and that no obstacle will be able to stop me from embracing the goodness and the fullness of wrestling with God on the mountain and in my soul. This is a gift that must be earned. Otherwise, it is just called cheap grace.
Westward we go!