Day 38 Tuesday, August 16 Steamboat Springs to Craig, CO 47 miles
Some people have asked me what I expected to get from this pilgrimage and I have consistently said, “I think I went into it without any real expectations except to open myself to the experience and see what unfolded.” At some deep psychic (maybe even soulful) place I felt pushed into the pilgrimage as if I had no choice. I explained to my friends that I was experiencing a series of waves. The best metaphor I had was that of labor. There would be a very uncomfortable wave or contraction and then I would be okay for a few days. Then another one, a pause, and another and each time I felt like I was being guided and massaged to something new.
I share this today because I have felt since leaving my hometown of Loveland that I would soon need a new purpose in order to keep me moving down the road and completing this circle forward to home. The combination of reaching Loveland with successfully limping over Trail Ridge Road two days later seemed to bring some clarity and the ingredients for some personal resolution I have been searching for. I am not saying that the work is done. Far from it. I am saying that the picture is starting to come into focus and I can at least see now what I am working on and what parts of my life I am ready to allow to gracefully slip into the ashes of the past.
Today my bike computer registered 2,000 miles. I actually probably reached 2,000 miles sometime the day before as I have lost a few miles during two different rainstorms and one flood when my computer refused to count the miles if I was going to be so stubborn as to ride in inclement weather. Computers have feelings too! A number of milestones in the last few days have simultaneously resulted in a shift in purpose. I highly recommend this pilgrimage thing! Something happens out here. I physically turn the corner to head west again and psychologically I turn the corner as well. I crest the highest point on my trip opening up a new world on the other side and somehow I also let go of past expectations and perspectives and the scenery of my life shifts.
As I said, I am finding that a new purpose is just beginning to evolve now. It’s already been there, but if it took a secondary place to my personal work, now it feels like it will become primary. I desperately needed solitude in the early weeks. Although I am still enjoying long stretches of solitude in the saddle I am also yearning for more connection and community. I am loving meeting new people, but the connection I am talking about is being among those with whom I know I belong. There is an element of homesickness that I feel at times–not enough to cut this wonderful opportunity short–just enough to recognize that I am now beginning the journey home.
What is the new purpose that is emerging? It is beginning to feel like scattered thoughts that I have had for years about the state of the Church and our role in the community are somehow being solidified and coming into focus. Thoughts up to this point seemed on the mark, but were often random. Now they feel like they are fitting into a more coherent whole. A picture is beginning to emerge in my head from a thousand different puzzle pieces that I have been playing with, arranging and re-arranging.
Today, I think I crossed that threshold. I have been pushing the miles with very little easing up. True to my form I only took an extra day when my body demanded it. It was rest in order to go back to work rather than rest to enjoy! I really am a slow learner on this one. Today I felt the shift take place. I didn’t know what to expect of this pilgrimage and what has unfolded is that now it seems that the writing is as important, if not more so, than the riding. I have numerous blog topics just waiting for that extra hour to share some of my experiences and thoughts as it relates to this new religious/spiritual world we live in. Earlier I felt it would be a shame if I didn’t complete the entire T.S. Eliot pilgrimage circle. Now, I feel it would be a shame if I didn’t capture the messages I am hearing from the people and the silence as I travel.
I am staying tonight in an amazingly inexpensive (cheaper than my dinner last night!) motel in Craig, CO. I am now about 100 miles from the Utah border. The town of Dinosaur is almost 90 miles away and it is the only realistic stopping point across another long dry stretch with very limited services. With the length of that day and this feeling like a new purpose is emerging I will take advantage of this low rate one more day and allow for a pause.
I reached my hometown. I turned the corner heading west again. I crossed my highest point at Trail Ridge Road. And my computer registered 2,000 miles, the halfway point of the pilgrimage. I don’t think it is any coincidence that I feel like I have crossed a threshold and a new purpose is emerging. I feel some relief that I am now allowing a pause to replace my drive to push. Phew!
Hey, and I can’t wait to tell you about my conversation with Australian roommate, Alex, this morning! Religion, politics, fundamentalism, and the emerging church! It was all there.