“WHEN PROSPERITY ENDS, REAL FAITH BEGINS” —from a banner seen on a Canadian highway.
Yes, I am finally on the road. Seattle, to be exact, after five days in Vancouver, B.C. I have an interview with Craig Greenfield of Servants Vancouver almost ready for publishing (should be up Friday), and will have more to say about that community in the interview post.
On a personal level, actually beginning the tour has been quite an emotional adjustment. Committing to having no stable home, to constant flux for over a year, is a very different animal now that I’ve actually stepped off that ledge than it was when it remained a ‘bright idea.’ So I’ve been enduring what might best be understood as the psychological equivalent of seasickness—grappling for a sense of stability and groundedness amidst a strange floating sensation in the absence of familiar reference points. Ah, but this adjustment period was anticipated and I trust will pass soon enough.
I am also aware of how different this bicycle tour is from previous ones, and not just for the obvious reasons of its length and intentions. During my first major bicycle tour, I had no explicit religious faith but believe in retrospect that I touched something of God in solitude and intimacy with nature that was very healing. On my second major bicycle tour, I had some degree of faith, enough to know to listen to a persistent intuitive impulse that haunted me throughout the journey, gently but firmly insisting that I should stay at a Catholic monastery should the opportunity arise (I wasn’t a practicing Catholic or even Christian at the time and had no real conscious desire to stay at a Catholic monastery). That opportunity did arise when I happened upon New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California. I stopped, was invited to stay, and remained there for six joyous, challenging, transformative years.
Experiences such as these have taught me to regard bicycle touring as a kind of charism, a privileged way in which God seeks me out in the unexpected twists and turns of the journey. Hence, on this my third major tour, wherein my explicit Christian faith is the source of inspiration and informs the content and aims of my travels, I now anticipate and already dimly sense the presence of the Spirit haunting my pedal strokes. What is She up to this time, I wonder? In the vulnerability and unpredictability of this lifestyle, including my dependence on the hospitality of strangers, I am all the more conscious of my need for God—for abiding love and faithfulness, a ground deeper than the flux of life, for guidance and light, to be called out of self-preoccupation and into meaningful relationships and loving service. For all these reasons, bicycle touring itself has become a form of prayer, rendering me, I believe, all the more open and receptive to sensing the life of God in the communities I visit and the people and events that come my way.
So let us pray…