Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Day 66) On arriving home... 18,647 KM later!

We awoke to blue skies this morning and what appeared to be frost on the windshields of the bikes... may not have been but it felt cool enough!

After loading the bikes we made our way to the Breakfast Room in the Comfort Inn and chowed down on their sausage and egg muffins and some yogurt and juice and coffee - enough to see us home!

In the midst of eating Al proposed a toast: to our last meal together.  It was meant to be jovial - but brought about a tone of solemnity for me.  The journey was coming to an end.  This time with Al was coming to an end.  My sabbath was nearing its end - less then four weeks and I was back to work...

Filling the gas tank for the second last time of the trip took on new meaning...  passing through the traffic lights held deeper significane.  Merging onto the Interstate brought me closer to home and further away from this experience that has nurtured my soul and stirred my spirit...

We took I-95 to exit 217 where we dropped onto Hwy #6 which took us through Howland and into Lincoln where I stopped at the local Suzuki dealer and picked up a can of chain lube and lubed the chain.

Leaving Lincoln we began to climb a long hill and I had to stop for a photograph (the one above to the left).  Somehow climbing this long hill and looking backwards into the distance captured some of what this sabbath experience has been for me.  A journey to a new place.  Deeper appreciation for all that I have.  Broader perspective on the world.  Renewed commitment to the ministry that I am called to, and a rested spirit...

Of course, the next few days will provide further time for reflection and integration of learning and as I am able I will share them here for those of you who are interested.

Crossing the border was a non-event... except I had left my wallet back at the Duty-Free store and they had called the Border Post to advise the staff there.  After being processed into Canada and being advised when I came through the second time to stop... I pulled a u-turn, went back to the US Border, explained the situation and was allowed to go and get my wallet!  After having my pass-port scanned yet again.  I retrieved my wallet from the clerk and hightailed it for Canada... stopped at the Canadian Border assured the Officer I had purchased nothing else... and was allowed to enter Canada for the second time in less then five minutes!!

Just before Harvey I pulled over to adjust my load and put on some music for the road home.  Al stopped and took that opportunity to say good-bye.  We said our farewells, share a hug and made plans to see each other in September when he returns from Calgary... with that Al was gone and I was on my own.

I adjusted my load.  Put in my ear bud and turned on the music.  Irony of Ironies...   CCR is singing Have You Ever Seen the Rain!  I don't know wether it was the song that had me moving quicker then normal or Al was going slower than usual... whatever the case, within fifteen minutes I had caught up to him and settled in beside him.

Al led the way into Sackville and as we sat at the light, just before he turned into the Irving for gas to get him home to Enfield, NS we shared a final handshake, trusting we would see each other in a few weeks at the prison, our friendship strengthened that much more as a result of the merging of our stories in the creation of shared memories of the journey together.

Coming into Sackville I made a detour to Marshalands Inn to see Zack and caught him just as he was breaking for lunch.  He'd grown taller and looked and sounded so much more mature - very much a young man!  But he still gave me a hug!  Made my day!  I tried to give him some of the candy I brought for him and Justin and he told me to take it home..  So much for letting him get first crack at it!

Turning up Fairfield I saw Anna getting in the car.  As I was pulling in the lane way Anna was driving out: taking the cat to the vet.  Back into the midst of the business of life!  A quick hello and she was off - and I set about setting up the tent and putting stuff about to dry, with a pile to take to the laundry mat tomorrow... and then I remembered Sandy.  I opened the door and she barrelled out and wagged her tail til I thought it was gonna wag off.  She yipped and whined and couldn't get close enough to me.  What a welcome home!

Justin came out shortly thereafter and gave me a hug and welcomed me home.  Made my day a second time!  I feel small.  Well... short.  They have both grown and matured and are young men.  Handsome young men that a dad can't help but be proud of!

Anna returned and over the course of the afternoon she caught me up on some of the goings on while I was away: breakfast parties, day trips, concerts and family events and then I did what needs to be done every month wherever one is... I paid the bills and did some banking.  At the bank I ran into a few friends and stopped to see another as I passed by and shared some of the journey with them... as they too welcomed me home.

Home.  Still on sabbath but no longer on the road I am so thankful for all that has been, for all those who have had a part in making this experience all that it has been: Anna - for your never failing support and encouragement; Justin and Zack - for your patience and love and support; Helen, Aunt Irene, Tom and Norma, Hank, Linda, Dawn, Barb & Jerry, Dwight and Faith, Paul and Jan and all the CouchSurfing folk - for your hospitality and graciousness as you welcomed me into your homes; the Chaplains and inmates I visited in Canada, the Religious Services Department of the Oregon Department of Correction, administrators, chaplains and inmates and Dr. Tom O'Connor - for your willingness to share of your wisdom and learn with me in conversation as we spoke of the ministry we share; the Sisters at Shalom Prayer Centre and the staff at Alton Collins Retreat Cenre - for you willingness to listen and enter into discernment with me; and Al - for taking time to meet me in North Carolina and share the final leg of the journey in an experience of true friendship.  Thank you.

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