I’ve been thinking a lot about the band of sisters who made the journey to St. Cloud and established St. Benedict’s Monastery 150 years ago—the physical demands of their long journey, and the continued stresses of adjusting to their new surroundings. And I’ve had more “inside” time. When we’re riding in mist, I tend to look around at the scenery less so as to keep my glasses a bit dryer. With my head down and eyes focused on the white line, it’s easier to slip into a deeper meditative state.
I already referred to Rosanne Keller’s book about various aspects of pilgrimage. One of the things that stuck with me the most when she talked about her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain was the yellow arrows and signs that say “Animo!” and mean, “take courage, keep going.” On this pilgrimage, my “Animo!” comes in animal form—cows that turn to watch us pedal past, and sometimes even grace us with a chorus of moos; horses that walk up to the fence, or gallop to the end of their pasture along with us; songbirds that chirp from telephone wires or fence posts at just the right time to lighten our spirits.
The storms of Friday that drenched Mobridge and the surrounding area were slow to peter out. The next three mornings we had thick mist, then the skies cleared up and we shed our various rain gear. Saturday and Sunday the mist set in again near the end of the day, but Monday it cleared up and stayed clear. We even had our first tail wind! To top it off, the terrain totally flattened out (we only had a couple of rises or inclines—they don’t even merit being called hills) and we had smooth, wide shoulders to ride on. We were able to sustain speeds over 14 mph for the first time since we left Miles City. Mom even managed fine though she had just taken a nasty spill down the camper steps when we stopped for a break. She’s a bit sore today, but we’re all heading out.
We’re leaving Aberdeen today. We stopped at a bike shop and got a few things, including new rear brake cables and more spare tires and inner tubes, and new gloves. We wanted to take S. Vicky up on her invitation to visit her here, but we are too exhausted in the evenings, and were far too slow-moving this morning. It’ll take us two days to get to Sisseton, then we’ll cross into Minnesota and hook up with the Lake Wobegon Trail at Sauk Centre. We’re nearing the home stretch. With that comes the typical mix of anticipation for the destination and simultaneous desire for more time en route. But another one of Rosanne Keller’s motifs in her book with which I heartily agree is that we are always on a journey. We return home changed, but we do return home. And we live as returned pilgrims continuing our pilgrim journey.