Moments before departure
Today about noon I embarked upon the Ride for Peace and Justice. Several hours later, after a fun forty-mile ride out of the mountains, into the high desert, and across the state line into New Mexico, I rolled into a small but busy town called “Aztec”. It’s dark now. My gear is spread out over a sidewalk in front of a strip-mall that has closed for the day. I have a power outlet and electric lighting. My belly is full from the dinner I just made. A sweet, kind young man named Tyler just told me about his relationship with Jesus, and I am totally inspired. He also dropped twenty bucks into my donation basket. I have an hour to work before it’s time to ride out into the night to find a place beside the road to sleep. Tomorrow I get to ride some more, and talk with more beautiful people and write for other beautiful people, and in the quiet around all the activity I get to practice presence and love God. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
Taking advantage of the light to make dinner and get some writing done.
Five minutes into the ride this morning, as I stopped to adjust some gear, a man approached me and asked me what I was doing. It was something of a big moment for me: my first contact and my first real opportunity to represent the Ride for Peace and Justice. His name is Shane, and he has an adorable little boy who also is named Tyler. After I explained what I am up to we dropped into a conversation of the sort that is rare, I think, in popular society: serious, and honest, and deep. We talked about how important it is that we all love ourselves, and how much saner the world would be if everyone knew how to do that. He told me about the time he spent in Peru, where things are simpler and quieter, where there is a folk wisdom that feels true and good but also prejudice and machismo. He is concerned about the world, he said. He sees so little to hope for in it, but he wants to hope. He wants the world to be a happier place. Shane thanked me for what I am attempting to do to make a difference, and he sent me on my way with a blessing.
Shane and little Tyler
I felt so grateful for his kind words, for his willingness to share a few moments with me, and for the simple courage required to connect with me, a stranger doing this strange thing. It felt as if Life was reassuring me through Shane; that it was letting me know that all will be well and that the inspiration that guided me to set out upon this pilgrimage was true. It feels as if my whole life these days is held by that same loving intelligence. I am truly blessed.
My mother says that I have always had an angel on my shoulder, and I know what she means. Somehow things always go my way. They do not always go as I want them to, but when I look back over what has occurred I can always see the hand of the divine intelligence that orchestrates everything for my good. We all have this. We all have an angel on our shoulder; we all are truly blessed. We just forget that sometimes, or we ignore it in favor of what we believe we want instead. If there is anything unusual about me (and I doubt that there is), it is the delicate sensitivity I have always had to the voice of that angel--that and the ready willingness to do what I feel guided to do. That’s how I ended up here in Aztec on this November night: the voice of the angel said to go, and I said yes.
Tyler (the big Tyler, not the little one) told me that he believes Satan lives in this world just as Jesus does. Satan works to confuse people and lead them astray. “Amen, brother!” I said. I do not believe that there is a person called “Satan” with human characteristics, but I know for a fact that there is a force of deception and self-punishment that dominates the lives of most people. When we cannot see how blessed we are we are distracted by that force. It is the mission both of this ride and of my whole life to break the long-practiced bond between the human that I am this lifetime and the energy that imprisons him, and to help others do this as well if I may. It doesn’t make sense that we should suffer when we each are so blessed. It’s time to do the work that will set us free from confusion, both as individuals and as a whole race. Let us love ourselves unconditionally, and from that love let us change the world.
A couple notes of a more practical nature before I let you go:
The new website (theoneopendoor.org) is up and running! It’s a work in progress, but I feel proud of it and I hope it will do good work. Check it out if you feel so moved. My girlfriend Anna made some wonderful watercolors for me to use, so you will see also them if you visit.
Second, I’ve decided to add some “Notes on the Ride” at the end of each blog for those who are interested in the ride itself, with all the logistical, environmental, and technical challenges involved. If you don’t care about such things, skip it, but for those who love bikes and gear and muscle-powered adventure, here you go.
Last minute adjustments
Notes on the Ride
Location: Aztec, NM
So far, so good. It’ll take me a week to get the kinks out of my gear (acquire what I still need, jettison what I can do without….), but the planning and preparation is paying off. The bike is loaded but rolling well and gracefully. Last time I pulled a trailer behind me. This is so much better! It’s lighter, and I feel safer because I fit better on the shoulder of the road. I rode into a headwind all day today. It’s likely to be like that most of the way to the Pacific. Based on my experience last time (I rode from San Franscico to Raleigh, NC a couple years ago) the prevailing winds come out of the southwest this time of year. Tonight I’ll begin practicing “stealth camping” once again. There is an art to finding a spot off the road that’s safe and out of the way of trouble. I have a lot of experience with this at this point, but I’m a bit rusty, so we’ll see…..
Take good care of yourself.