Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More thoughts from the road

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.


Tess said...

I caught your blog via Musings of a Discerning Woman and am really enjoying it. Your descriptions bring us with you on the journey. Love the image of the horses galloping along with you to the end of the paddock - I can see them shaking their manes.

Eunice Antony said...


I love your very thoughtful comments, your reflections, your honesty with the range of emotions as you get closer and closer to your goal. Thanks for letting us journey with you through your
insightful entries. Blessings@
Eunice OSB

Mary Catherine said...

You are authentically gifting your readers with an inspiring sense of pilgrimage. True pilgrimage brings us to many terrains and if we make the pilgrimage in mindfulness God is the more of everything we see, hear, touch, desire ... so vast and yet so intimately one with us. Thank you for awakening me to this mindfulness.
I pray you safely home.
Mary Catherine

Jennifer F. said...

Thanks for sharing - I just discovered your site and am really enjoying hearing about your journey!

Leah said...

I love you Steph!

Thank you for all your messages and sharing the trip with us.

Hugs to the amazing bikers on the road and your great support crew.

Deb said...

We just met you and your family tonight as you came to spend the night in our small town. We are so intrigued and impressed with you and the perseverance of a such a young woman to make a journey like this. You must certainly be a true inspiration to those who know you. We look forward to reading your thoughts as you continue this exciting adventure! You will be in our thoughts as well as our prayers daily and it was definitely a delight to meet you!
Your new friends from Bristol, SD
Dary and Deb

Sandy, csj said...

Just found your blog today. I love it, having done a 350 mile solo bike trip last year, and knowing what an experience of pilgrimage it can be.

I'll be mentioning your blog in my next post to my readers...

Anonymous said...

How truely awesome this trip is! keep in keeping on! My the lord bless and keep you the remainder of your journy!
Lisa Bondi
Fairfield, CT