Day 41 Friday, August 19 Dinosaur, CO to Roosevelt, UT 64 miles
Well, I am at a bit of a crossroads. Nothing to worry about. It’s all part of discerning this shift that I have been experiencing since leaving Loveland and crossing Trail Ridge Road. I rode with a real sense of purpose in the early weeks. I desperately needed solitude and it felt like the further I rode away from Portland the more I found what I needed. Then returning to the place of my birth, Bozeman, MT, pulled me through the mountains of Idaho. With Yellowstone just a two days ride from there I easily kept moving forward. After the major rainstorm setback just before crossing the high desert of Wyoming I was feeling a little sobered. But, I had Loveland just a few days ride away and that provided the will to push on.
The next major destination for me is the Bay Area. I have many connections there through the family and friends of my ex-wife. I graduated from seminary from San Francisco Theological Seminary and our two children were born in Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate bridge. Two hours north of there is Lake County where we lived for 9 years. This is one of my most important stops. I was a pastor there for 4 years and in my first attempt to bridge the traditional church with emerging spirituality, I lost my job and also helped found a Unitarian Universalist Church. Much of my story was written in Northern California.
So, my mind is already moving toward California and the stories and connections I have there. I have at moments thought about hitching a ride with a semi to cross the Nevada desert and picking up again in Carson City, NV just below Lake Tahoe. But, I just don’t like the idea of taking a large slice out of this circle of leaving home and returning home. I think the Nevada desert is part of this experience. If I was only riding for my pure enjoyment (read vacation) it would be easy to hop on a Greyhound and fast forward to the Bay Area. But, I am also working through what it means to be a minister in this changing time. The Presbyterian Church has acknowledged that we are currently living in a wilderness time. Wilderness is a major theme in our tradition including the freed Hebrew slaves, Jesus being tested in the wilderness, and the Desert Fathers who went to face God. I feel like I need this if I am going to be one of those who lead the Church in this transitional time.
Interesting…as I am writing I feel like I am answering my own question. I feel a little less at a crossroads than I did a few paragraphs ago. It has felt like I need to discover a new purpose for the remainder of this pilgrimage. I have some clarity on some personal work I needed to do–enough that any more growth will take place in relationship rather than in solitude. I have also been seeing images of spending the last two weeks staying exclusively in the homes of Presbyterians in California and Oregon and beginning to share some of what I have experienced by listening to the community around us. I can feel a movement from listening to sharing taking place.
For the moment I will reflect on what it means to see the Nevada desert as an opportunity and see what comes. If I see it only as an obstacle to overcome on the way to the Bay Area I don’t think it will serve me well. That would be a waste of my time and I might as well take a Greyhound then. But, if I can find a new purpose and make it a spiritual discipline it could open me up to even deeper places of discovery. If I do go “unplugged” at any time it will be there as I travel along the “Loneliest Road in America” and get the full experience of being in a physical and psychological wilderness.
The 400 mile “Loneliest Road” stretch is still 3 days away. That should be just enough time to discern whether I’ll find a deeper purpose or a Greyhound station. I think I already know my answer, but a heat wave is expected to blow in starting Monday and I can always be convinced to change my mind!