Day 61 Thursday, September 8 Petaluma to Santa Rosa, CA 22 miles
Written Thursday, sent Friday.
I feel like the day was split into two pieces. There was the bulk of the day that is hardly worth reporting because I allowed myself to go mindless. I only had a short hop into Santa Rosa of about 15 miles from Petaluma that took me just over an hour. I landed at Courthouse Square in downtown Santa Rosa. This was a favorite location when I was living in the more rural Lake County over an hour northeast of here. I would often come here on a day off to shop for books, enjoy a meal, and maybe catch a movie.
I had about five hours to myself before meeting my host for the night and I just stopped. Stopped riding, stopped thinking, and stopped reflecting. I allowed a deep tiredness to overtake me and I laid down under the rays of the early afternoon sun with children playing nearby and the hum of an afternoon lunch crowd lofting above me as I fell into a dreamy sleep on the small green lawn of the downtown park. I faded in and out with the sounds of the downtown city noises startling me awake at moments. This was all about completely stopping and simplifying and I made my way to the old Mexican Restaurant a block away and ordered something simple and fresh—cold gazpacho soup made entirely of fresh vegetables and avocado. Then I went back to the same spot in the park, leaned back and fell asleep again.
The second part of the day was arriving at Chris and Liz’s house where I am staying for the night. Chris is very involved in the church at the local level, the regional level and the national level flying to Louisville twice annually for meetings related to the national direction of the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church USA). He invited Roger from a nearby Presbyterian Church to join us for a conversation. Roger grew up in India as the son of missionary parents and has a broad ecumenical view. I have promised myself that I wouldn’t think too much today, but here were some highlights of some of our questions and thoughts:
- Chris’ church hosted Peace Camp this year instead of Vacation Bible School and it drew three times the usual number. It fits my understanding that our culture does honor spiritual values and is less interested in whether those values are formed from the Bible or not.
- We all discussed how our churches seem to connect with the community pretty well on service-oriented projects, but that expecting the same people to show up for worship is too much of a stretch. I am wondering if “worship” carries with it an assumption of honoring an external God while so much of our theology and spirituality has shifted to an awareness of the god who is reflected in our own lives and community.
- Roger, who is a retired social worker, brought up the question about how this seismic shift we seem to be in isn’t limited to the religious world, but seems to be part of a shift in our political, culture and economic worlds as well. I intuitively feel that is the case, but can’t get my mind around what this larger shift is and what role religion and spirituality are playing in it. Just more questions with no clear answers!
OK…that’s all the thinking I am doing for tonight. I do feel I am beginning to decompress and starting to allow myself to relax after pushing so hard physically and mentally. I think that is why I felt so tired this afternoon and just let the sun soothe me to sleep in the middle of town. I do want to come home feeling refreshed rather than burned out. There will be plenty of time to write and begin exploring the implications of this trip. I don’t need to cram it all in in the last two weeks. Tomorrow I am off to Lake County where I have dear friends to visit and reconnect with. Yay!