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.