I have been on the road for a week, putting some photos on Facebook [Brenda S. Wills] and taking hundreds more.
People ask if I travel alone, and I suppose I should say yes, but in fact I am not alone. I will talk to folks along the way, and I will continue to be connected to you, my tribe. I have a deep and blessed knowledge that I am loved and surrounded, though I often forget to notice or let that love into my presence.
As a clergy person for life, I chuckled that the chaos of clergy in Holy Week was not unlike my Wholly Last Week in Toledo! There were complications and gifts of that delay, which were important to honor and notice.
I planned to leave on Thursday, but in reality it took three days of intense labor, to give birth to this trip. Life has taught me to be grateful for detours and notice what is present. These delay days were full of those moments. I left 40 years of clergy paperwork in recycle bins, a two day garage sale and four carloads of donations to repurpose, and condensed personal items to one small room or a spot in the Roadtrek “River”. The house will be rented ‘furnished’ while I journey.
Thursday departure was a joke; I asked for help and had angel friends who worked ten hours with me. Friday I wanted to leave but locks failed on a storage compartment, so Saturday the mobile locksmith Smitty, came to help. Learning he was a Vet, I thanked him for his service, and he spoke with pride of his older sister who had served in combat in Viet Nam, in the 191st Airborne. After a pause, he said, she served as a he. [of course women were not welcome in combat in Viet Nam]. He went on to relay her story: Leslie was defined as “boy” by her father, raised in Utah, early into service and on to marriage and family in Alaska. She came to a breaking point, ready to rage with mass murder and suicide, when an online chat room friend urged her to get on a plane, and leave it all and move to Mississippi. She did, and began to live as Leslie, she. She told her family, Smitty being the last to know. They talk often now, Leslie is living in a home for Vets in Mississippi. On Birthdays, vets have their service picture posted, and this year Leslie put up her “he” service picture. Leslie is the happiest she’s ever been, no longer in combat with herself, safe in a tribe of Veterans who honor her service, with a family who love her, in a country that (at the moment) allows her the basic human rights she fought to preserve. I was so blessed to hear this incredible story and write about it to preserve and witness Leslie’s courage and service to us.
Smitty and I noticed a nail in a tire that got patched Saturday afternoon, without blow out.
Sunday morning I left at 845 am, and arrived for most of Corvallis FUMC Easter Service. Rev. Barbara Nixon’s words of resurrection out of darkness, with struggle and great effort, painted my experience for the past couple of months then these three days. I love my home, friends, work and play in Toledo/Newport/Oregon yet now I hear a call to use this gift (River) that I dreamed of traveling in. I emerged Easter morning, stood sobbing in FUMC balcony as we sang “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” then shared Easter Dinner with long-time dearest friends, Bonnie and Jim. I spent the closing hours of Easter with two women friends who’s love has healed and inspired me for decades.
Monday, 4/17, I confirmed reservations for camping for the first week of the journey, and drove to Lakeview, Oregon. Tuesday were miles and hours that took me to Ely, NV where I arrived at dusk, having driven through the last 80 miles with some sleet on the van but not the road. I awoke to snow on the ground. Visited Ely UMC, a vital church in RURAL Nevada, Reconciling and served by Rev. Suzanne Calhoun for the past 6 years. The drive to Zion NP took me onto I 15 and driving 80 mph which tried to freak me out (where does that frighten child within me come from, that screams ‘we’ll never make it, we’ll all be killed’ when I am a good and careful driver doing just fine without her help!)
Zion was stunning. The Shuttle system was a gift, and I adjusted to the altitude so hiked to Upper Emerald Falls one day, encountering 3 women from Kalispell Regional Medical Center (MT) who recognized me from my 1999-2007 Chaplain work there! On Earth Day, I drove switchbacks to a mile long 1923 tunnel through and up out of Zion Canyon to the Red Rocks of Dixie National Forest and on via Highway 12 to Bryce Canyon. Here the shuttle is a gift as it took me to 9000 ft lookouts yesterday.
Getting a Blog written means pausing — and not falling into internet news of the latest Tweets to distract me, the Congress’s threat to women’s health world wide, or the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council April 25. I appreciated these things are important yet somehow this season of my life calls for a different focus.
The ancient movements of this land, and the plates of the earth beneath it, shifting and changing over billions of years, are cause of awe and thanks to the Holy One/God. I hope that the chaos we are experiencing in our little moment in history, may be the birthing of new ways of being Beloved Community/tribe with one another and all of creation.