Day 73 Tuesday, September 20 Junction City to Salem, OR 66 miles
I cannot wait to get home now. It’s more than just completing this long, wonderful and intense pilgrimage. I can’t wait to see my two children and resume our shared meals and spontaneous Blazer nights with nachos and beer. I have many good friends to catch up with and share stories and find out what events I missed in their lives and families. I am excited about getting back to Eastminster and exploring and discerning what all this means for us. I do know that we will not be able to resume where we left off as if I had just taken a short leave of absence. I know that I have been changed and I can only guess that Eastminster finds herself in a new place. The pilgrimage has stirred the pot and we will need to just take the time to see where our new priorities, yearnings, and future thoughts have settled. It is a little scary and I am sure there is some anxiety, but I feel that this is a wonderfully rich time of opportunity and possibility. I really cannot wait to get back and discover what new life is awaiting me in Portland and this work that we have begun.
I did meet for an extended lunch with one of my colleagues who only recently discovered my blog. After reading a couple of posts she felt she wanted to meet and talk more about her experiences in the ministry and her sense of call. She is wrestling in the same way I have wrestled with what it means to be a minister in this time of religious uncertainty and shifting spiritual values. We talked about many things, but one thing bears sharing. She said something that I immediately connected with and have heard is a source of frustration among other ministers. What she said is that she is tired of constantly trying to “convince the church” that God can be experienced in other spiritual forms. She is currently being certified as a yoga instructor, already has a degree in music therapy, and is in a program to be certified as a spiritual director.
Like me, much of her connection to God is in the form of an “embodied” spirituality. It is experienced physically in movement and exercise, in music and dance. It is experienced in hiking in the mountains, walking meditatively through a park, or cycling on long stretches of country road. She is currently in a time of transition in her church where her future is now wide open. She finds herself ready to just start working with the people who want yoga, music therapy, spiritual direction, etc. rather than spending her time trying to convince the church that it has a place there. I do understand the church’s intention to sponsor activities that fit within the scope of being a church. It’s a fair question to ask how yoga fits a church’s mission. I just want to know how hard former generations had to work to get quilting circles, rummage sales, and Ice Cream Socials sponsored in the church. If I remember the story right, Jesus was big on wine, but I don’t remember anything about big bowl of Rocky Road.
I made a slight detour in order to visit with my colleague which left me with a fun little adventure for the afternoon. I had a delightful time of just pointing my bike north and making spontaneous decisions about whether I headed more toward the foothills, stayed close to the freeway, or crossed over onto the western side of the freeway toward McMinnville. I first started heading toward Silverton, but one road starting turning south and before I knew it I was going back to where I started. At that I decided it was best to stay closer to the freeway and patched a number of smaller rural roads together until I came into the south side of Salem. What I discovered is how much delight I get out of exploring, making wrong turns, backtracking, and trying to figure out the grid. It’s like riding through a wonderful maze. I thought about how this mirrors our sense of spiritual adventure these days as well.
Most of my days on the pilgrimage didn’t allow (or more accurately I didn’t allow!)for this type of adventurous exploration. Today, because my mileage was lower, I was in the valley where I wouldn’t have difficult hills to climb, and I was finishing up this pilgrimage I allowed myself to play a little. As much as I am looking forward to getting back to Portland I am also going to miss being on the bike every day. I did get tired of having to pull up my stakes every day. I got tired of all the planning and preparation on a daily basis. But, I never did get tired of the riding. Something about the road and the rhythm calls me. It won’t be long before I start planning another ride (but maybe 74 miles, not 74 days!). Anyone want to join me!