Day 44 Monday, August 22 Spanish Fork, UT Rest Day 23 errand miles
I had been feeling since leaving Loveland ten days ago that a new purpose was beginning to germinate for the pilgrimage. I could see momentary glimpses of it. I could feel a shift occuring from some personal work to work on behalf of the community. In the midst of tha,t mountain passes have not brought the same joy they did earlier in the trip and minor inconveniences have tripped me up more easily. Yet, I have been spurred on by the thought that I really need to cross the Nevada desert as a physical symbol for the journey that our religious communities are also on. I have heard from enough ministers over the years who have a more progresive theology, but feel stymied in their congregations for fear of undermining the beliefs of their members. I need to cross this bridge for myself and for Eastminster and the Portland community. I sense that there are others too who want to cross this bridge.
Today was a good day for gaining some clarity on where I am going and what the rest of this pilgrimage is about. A new purpose is beginning to emerge. A definite shift has taken place as I make plans now to listen more to the changing story of the religious community. I still have many details to work out, but I am sensing that once I cross “the wilderness” of Nevada that my focus will turn to listening to the Church and sharing what I have experienced in the last six weeks in the broader community. I am beginning to see now why I was not able to approach churches on the early end. I really needed go out for the story before coming back with anything to say. I am looking forward to seeing how the stories complement and feed off each other.
Although I am still quite cognizant of the risks and the careful planning needed to cross the desert, the slow gelling of my purpose for the final weeks is changing how I feel about those days on the “Loneliest Road in America”. It may be too premature (and probably naive), but I moving from a feeling of dread about those days to a feeling of anticipation for the richness of the experience. Now it is beginning to feel like an opportunity for more reflection, growth, and the word that keeps coming to me is gratitude.
I think this change is brought on by the fact that once I hit Carson City, NV just below Lake Tahoe I will feel like I am coming home. The rest of the trip is familiar territory. I traveled in that part of Nevada and Northern California as a juvenile probation officer counseling youth in boot camps and group homes. My sister was born in Sacramento which means I lived there for a short time (I have no recollection of it.) I have already shared my connections to the Bay Area with graduate school, the birth of my children, and friends and family. Then all the way up the coast from Marin County, CA to Astoria, Oregon are churches and colleagues with whom I have worked and worshiped for the better part of 20 years. I am beginning to feel that this final push through the desert is the last major obstacle before “coming home”. This pilgrimage was always about “leaving home” and “coming home” on so many levels and I can see them being played out as each week unfolds.
Now onto the matters of the day. I spent the early morning making phone calls to a few bike shops in the area. There are none in Spanish Fork, but a handful within about 10-15 miles. It was clear that I was not going to be able to replace my front rack without having to wait until Wednesday (at the earliest) to have one shipped to a shop in Provo. The next best thing was to see if I could remove the broken bolt that was severed from the eyelet and then just replace it with a new one and use my same rack. Downhill Cyclery in Payson (8 miles south) was kind enough to let me use their work area to remedy the problem on my own. Unfortunately, there was no tool that could do the job. Along came Bryce at Utah Trikes (www.utahtrikes.com). I knew from the moment he looked at it that he was going to get the job done. He had a confidence even if he wasn’t sure exactly what would work. After trying the usual plier and vice-grip methods he got serious. With a power saw and a few drill bits he removed the bolt, gave me the tools to reattach my rack, and sent me on my way to complete this crazy journey.
On my way back to Spanish Fork I had to stop at this temple that I passed on the way down to Payson. I knew this was Mormon country and this did not look Mormon at all! It had Eastern written all over it. I rode up the small hill, parked my bike close to the temple, took off my shoes as is the sacred custom, and entered the building. I found out it is the first Hare Krishna temple in Utah (www.utahkrishnas.org). The second one was just built in Salt Lake City. It was like looking at one of those questions on an SAT test where they show you four objects and then ask, “Which one doesn’t fit?” In L.A., yes. In Portland, yes. But, in Utah it just baffled my mind.
I grew up in an atmosphere where the message was that Hare Krishna’s were a cult. I can remember as a child seeing them in the airports handing out a flower and a pamphlet. I don’t remember ever getting a flower as I steered as clear as I could from them. Now that I have theology degrees and much more exposure to the world I don’t feel the same. I read some of the material and like most religions it asks questions about what is our true spiritual nature, what does it mean to be in community, what is our connection with the divine, and how should we order our lives. The hostess on site explained Hare Krishnas this way: We are the monotheistic sect of Hinduism. Now, that’s something for Christians to think about. Yes, it looks different than what we are used to, but quite honestly I feel more of a kinship with the Hare Krishna who is pondering the world of spirit than I do with the stock broker who obsesses solely over markets and money. We all have our gods!
The rest of the day was spent pondering and planning the rest of the pilgrimage. It felt really good to be able to step back and get some perspective on it once again. I was especially relieved as I brought my different maps and internet tools together to get a strategy for crossing Nevada. After pulling all of my resources together there was no day where I felt it was impossible. There are, however, five days straight where there will be no services for between 65 and 90 miles. Each day is doable. it’s the full package that is a bit daunting. The trick will be to take my time, plan well, and not rush ahead until I feel ready for each day’s ride.
Which brings me to the issue of continuing to blog during this period. I have reflected a great deal on whether I needed to unplug for a time. What I came to is this. Whether I actually send a blog out or not, I realized that I depend on and look forward to this time to capture and put my thoughts together from the day. It is my form of journaling which I would do regardless. The reason I send it out is that I made a commitment early on to try to mirror the “wilderness experience” that our religious culture is currently going through. I am working very hard not to write for anyone in particular, but to capture the challenges, the joys, the emotional ups and downs, and the subtle shifts that take place day to day. Having said that, I cannot guarantee that I will send a blog every day while going through Nevada. My commitment is to cross the desert, do it safely, and remain pyschologically intact. It may be all I can do to ride, eat, drink, sleep, recover and ride again.
Tomorrow I am off to the town of Delta, UT. From there the 400- mile loneliest road section begins. I am so glad my bike faltered yesterday. It was just the gift I needed. The world definitely looks a little brighter and more welcoming than it did two days ago. Sigh…