After our four enjoyable days with our friends Sherry and Greg in Minnesota, Rich and I loaded up the Harley and set off on the next leg of our adventure. We headed west from Brainerd toward North Dakota. The scenery started changing as we approached the border between the two states, becoming flatter and less green.
As was our norm, we stopped for a break and a tank up after about an hour and a half of riding. Then we continued for about the same amount of time until our tummies told us it was time to get some lunch. We had noticed that the exits had grown further apart and offered very few food options, so as soon as we saw an Arby’s we decided to pull off. We are not big “fast-food” eaters, but Arby’s passes muster for a quick lunch.
Once inside, I made my food choices and left Rich to pick up the order while I went to choose a table from which we could keep an eye on the bike. There was only one other couple in the restaurant, and they were seated about three tables away from our window table. They were an older couple and the husband was in a wheelchair, and I could hear them talking quietly from time to time.
Rich bought our order to the table and we quickly got organized and ready to eat. Then, as always, we held hands and thanked God for a safe trip so far, asked him to continue to bless and protect us, to bless the food and continue to feed us spiritually. Then it was time to dig in and eat up.
I guess we were about half way through our meal when I became aware that the woman from the other couple was clearing away their things. Suddenly she was standing beside us and, leaning in toward us, she apologized for interrupting us. We said, no problem, and she carried on talking to let us know why she had come over.
She explained that she was “one of us” and that it had really warmed her heart to see us praying over our food before we began eating. She said that sometimes it was very hard to be a Christian because she felt we were in a minority. She also said that not many people were willing to be public about their belief in God and that as we prayed we had allowed her to feel as though she were “not alone”. It was a very warm moment of fellowship and my heart went out to her.
Rich agreed with her and told her that just a week or so ago we had done the same thing as she had. We had been having a meal at one of our favorite salad bars, “Sweet Tomatoes”, when a woman and her two daughters came and sat at the table across the aisle to us. Once they had settled into the booth, they all bowed their heads and said a prayer of blessing over their food. I remember how heart-warming it felt for us to see that, and as we left the restaurant Rich had paused briefly at their table to let them know how great it had been to witness that.
We exchanged farewells with the woman, and as she pushed her husband out of Arby’s I wondered what their story was. We feel very blessed to have met certain people, complete strangers, on our ride who have uplifted us and shared a God-moment with us. And I remembered that other couple in the rest stop parking lot in Tennessee who had cared enough about us to pray for our safety as we began our long trip.
Here is an eclectic mix of wise sayings that have come from here, there, and everywhere!
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’”. (Audrey Hepburn)
“We all move toward the ego, and we even solidify it as we get older if something doesn’t expose it for the lie that it is: not because it is bad, but because it thinks it is the whole enchilada! (Richard Rohr)
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” (Maria Robinson)
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it! Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman)
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children …….. to leave the world a better place ………. to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each and everyone of us.” (Dorothy Day)
“God will find us, bless us, even when we feel most alone, unsure ……….God will find a way to let us know that He is with us in this place, wherever we are.” (Kathleen Norris)
“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.” (Herb Caen)
“If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth.” (Anthony de Mello)
“Do you know why the mighty God of the universe chooses to answer prayer? It is because His children ask. God delights in our asking. He is pleased at our asking. His heart is warmed by our asking.” (Richard J. Foster)
“In the end, I think that I will like that we were sitting on the couch, talking and wondering where the time went.” (Anonymous)
“She said she used to cry everyday, not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful, and life was so short.” (Brian Andreas)
Enough, enough or I shall drown in the beauty of words! Don’t you just love the way they run off the end of the pen in someone’s hand, or appear on the computer screen at the insistence of someone’s fingers flying across a keyboard? It never ceases to amaze me that the wit or humor or intelligence contained in a person’s brain just flows out onto paper in some fashion or another. And then, I get to read it, soak it in, and share it on to others.
I carry my reflection books in a small plastic tub. It keeps them all tidily in one place, and makes for easy transportation when I go away. As I reached down to pick one out this morning, my fingers encountered a loose piece of paper. There, at the bottom of the tub, lay a small 3” x 5” piece of printing. I pulled it out and recognized it immediately as something that a dear friend had given me about a year ago. It was the copy of page 242 from a daily book of goddess reflections that she reads.
At the time, I was going through an immensely sad moment in my life. In hindsight, I realize I was probably verging on the edge of depression. I am very fortunate that I have many tools that I use on a daily basis that help me to never sink into the desperate depths of that particular disease. And then too, I have wonderful friends who walk a similar path to mine who care about me and give me exactly what I need when I need it.
And thus I received page 242 at just the right moment. The goddess who was addressed on that page was O-Ryu. She is referred to as Grandmother O-Ryu and is the Japanese goddess of the Willow tree. This is what was written about her.
She waits for you in her sacred tree temple beside the quiet night river. A golden Moon whispers above her long and hanging
branches, casting a twinkling outline around her wavy edges. “Come to me”, O-Ryu calls out as she reaches her long and
leafy branches toward you for a loving hug. An owl flaps a low, deep hoot from somewhere inside her soft green tendrils,
and you notice a spider’s web gleaming silver on the tips of her twiggy fingers.
”I am the Witch’s Tree, sacred to the Wise Ones”, she reminds you. “My branches are for making magic wands. My bark
supplies aspirin, the remedy for pain. Come. Sit beneath my weeping branches. Let me hold you close. It’s okay to feel
sad. Let yourself mourn and cry and weep. The relief you are seeking is in letting yourself feel. Do not hold back.
Perhaps you have postponed your mourning too long,” O-Ryu urges. “Mourn means ‘to remember’. Who wants to be
remembered today? Can you whisper their name out loud? Call their spirit to come and sit beside you here by the River.
Let us cry together and gather the wisdom they want to share with you. The spirit of someone deceased wants to talk
with you. Something you need to know will be revealed in a powerful feeling.”
At the top of this page was a statement: “Tears, too, are sacred and can wash away your grief. Honor your memories.” At the bottom of the page was another statement: “Mourning my losses and grieving are necessary processes on my spiritual path.”
When I was in High School there was a small section of the playground that was a grassed area where we could sit in those rare warm English summer days! In the corner of this place was a large weeping willow tree that I loved to sit under and feel protected and safe, cocooned if you will. As I read page 242 I was reminded of those days and, because I firmly believe that nothing happens “by chance”, I chose to work with the imagery of O-Ryu for the next few days, weeks, however long it should prove necessary.
In those days, I discovered that I was mourning the loss of my daughter. No, she had not died in the physical sense, but I had “lost” her all the same. The details of this loss are not important to this writing. What is important is that I discovered what had been destroying me inside during that moment in my life, and I was able to release it with O-Ryu’s help. I also discovered that I needed to mourn the loss of my mother at a deeper level, I came to understand some of her pain that I had helped to create.
Tears are cleansing. They are an important part of our journey to wholeness. They wash away the grief and allow for new seeds of happiness to bloom in once broken hearts. Welcome your tears as the refreshing waters for new growth. As the tears evaporate and dry on your cheeks, so an inner peace will enter your soul and bless you on your way.