I arrived late this afternoon. My parents and stopped at the gate entrance where we took a few pictures of me and the bike. As soon as that task was completed I disembled my bike and packed my stuff in the back of their van. We rolled on up the gravel road to the church. I made my way into the gift shop or Gatehouse and greeted the young man behind the counter. He imformed that the guest masters were busy hearing confession and would not be able to see. However, evening Vespers was to begin within the hour and they would be finished with confession following Vespers. I asked him if my parents and I could take part in Vespers and he said that would be fine. I then asked him if I needed to change out of my bike clothes before I entered the church. He gave me a sheepish like grin and nodded yes. I told him I would do so immediately. I changed my clothes in the bathroom with a few minutes to spare before Vespers
We entered the church following the ringing of the bell the second time. It is large church with an enoromous chancel. St. Andrews santuary would fit with in the space that is just their chancel with plenty of room to spare. In minutes all the benedictines arrived most of which were wearing their white albs. We sat forward towards the altar as is typical for parishoners but the monks sat perpadicular to us facing each other. They began with the atiphon followed by there singing in Latin. I didn’t understand a single word and was unable to follow along in the book but I was able to read the words printed in English and say my own prayers as we stood, sat, kneeled and bowed through the liturgy.
Following Vespers I was greeted by the Guest Master, Father Bachman. He was very happy to see me and shared with me just how impressed he was with me having ridden from San Diego to Our Lady of Clear Creek Abby. He told me that I would be housed alone in the old rectory down the road aways and gave me directions to get to. Supper was to be prepared at 7:40pm. I thanked him for thier hospitality and drove my parents van down to the rectory which was just over a mile away from the church. My parents and I made our way into the rectory and I took a cell directory across from the bathroom. My mother took pictures and said felt like she was dropping me off for the military. I gave her a hug, she hopped in the car, I shook my dad’s hand (he was already in the car) and they drove off to Hulbert.
I dropped my bag in my room and made my way back to the church for dinner. I was greeted with a Benedictine Greeting which was a picture water poured over my hands into a bisin and a light towel to dry them with. I entered the dining room where not a single word was spoken. Everything was communicated through nods and motions of the hands. During the meals someone read over a PA system. That first night it was a story about some priest and obviosly I wasn’t paying any attention although it was in English. It was a very meager meal I found out afterwards it was an Ember day and we were to be fasting to celebrate the harvest.
After dinner I was shown the library where I was welcomed to read whatever I liked. I had 30 minutes before Compline and so I picked up St. John the Cross “Dark Night of the Soul” a book I have always been curious about. Well, I didn’t finish it 30 minutes but I did get into it a ways.
Compline was wonderful, although again all in Latin and I had a pew with out kneeling pad! Following Compline no one is to speak, not even guest, so I made my way outside where like earlier there were monks walking around with their heads bowed toward the ground. The moon was just going down over the hill and it was a beautiful dark night and I made my way done the path in the darkness, occasionally looking up at the stars.
I sit now in my “cell” alone in this large building listening to the insects, the occasional dog bark and a hoot owl. After 3 weeks of focused intense nomadic journeying I am amazed at the peaceful stillness and quiet here. Gives me time to reflect and process the miles Ive come the connections made or strengthened and also time to recall and count the overwhelming blessings that have served almost as mile markers along my way. Im struck with feelings of overwhelming gratitude for God’s inexhaustable and overflowing Grace on everything in creation from the dramatic weather, to roads less traveled, to the brave innocence of animals, to all people. Gods people, after all this time in creation, we keep following Gods will and example by extending the neverending ripples of blessings out into His kingdom. Through big and small, intentional and unintentional random acts of kindness.
It has been a few days since I’ve done any blogging here. I’m had some long days of riding and by the end of the day my mind can’t begin to put down in words what I have experienced. I will make an attempt this morning to put down something here.
I picked up Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona and last night I left it here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have been so surprised by all the Route 66 history. The old filling stations, motels and mini markets. Some that are still in use and others that are barely standing. It is a look into our countries past. Along the route I met and talked to so many who are motor cycling or driving along the route. I spoke to groups from Germany, France, England, Japan, Korea, Spain and even Fresno. And this morning I spoke to a group of motor cyclist from Scotland. These are people looking for some of that route 66 magic.
What has surprised me even more has been my mother. She had not said much of anything about her memories of route 66 until we crossed the state line into Oklahoma. She recalled for me how when she 5 years old at the end of World War II her family moved back from California back to her home town of Hulbert, OK. She remembered how the trees lined route 66 at the state line and some of these same trees line to the old highway today. She remembered how excited her entire family was to be coming back home. Today, she still holds a lot of that excitement to be back in OK where she has so many good memories. Memories of not only her short time growing up here but all times we spent together as family with Natalie. Now, we make new memories as we get to sit and visit with our family over the next few days.
I am overwhelmed with emotions when I consider the many miles I traveled over the last 3 weeks and today just 55 miles left. Most of all though I am overwhelmed by all those who have supported me along the way—-those who have housed, fed, called, texted, emailed, prayed and saw me through this journey.
This morning I get back in the saddle for the last time and enter Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey. My parents, with some training, have become excellent saggers for me. They will follow me all the way to the finish today. One piece of information many of you may not know is that part story of ride is that as I enter the abbey I am returning to the area where my Grandma Mayfield was raised there on Clear Creek. There are sections of Clear Creek that have become part of lake and I have spent sometime out there, years ago, fishing. On one of our trips out here my mother, Grandmother and I took a drive in a pick up to find my grandma Mayfields old home place. What we found was barely a foundation of a very small house.
I will continue to connect all the dots in my life and I am conscience that none of this would be at all possible with out all you and with out God who has protected me along the way.
Hebrews 11–Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.