It is Day 16 and so much has already happened. I’ll admit, catching up on the blogposts is difficult right now. I’m sore, fighting off a migraine and frankly, just tuckered out. Last year, due to lack of planning, I stayed in many cheap motels. This made writing easier. This year I have been welcomed by the community (at large) and so my nights are very different, with less time to write.
My average miles have been 1,000 miles a week. This puts me right on “schedule,” if not ahead. The conversations and interludes can’t be so easily measured.
I give thanks to see so much of the American perspective- to meet the dreamers, hustlers, artists, clowns, down and outs, stewards, Cajuns, travelers, hosts, philosophers, Brits, skeptics, teachers and students. All part of the human tribe, all giving this story more depth and adventure.
Yesterday, I met an amazing group of people and contributed to an amazing program, through Friend Ships. I was greeted at Port Mercy by Ann, who lives aboard the ship with her husband and sons. Her husband Jeff questioned me in depth as to the nature of my mission. It is hard to explain the level of truth that happened in our exchange, but I feel like I learned more about what I am doing by just being in his presence. It makes such a difference when people listen intently without judgement. I strive to be more like this.
The level of faith that they live by was astounding to witness. They are very Christian. More so than anyone I have ever met and it was humbling. A few years ago I might have been intimidated. I have visited ashrams and stayed with devotees though, and while their God might be called by a different name, God was still frequently addressed. With Amma devotees, Amma would come up, sometimes ridiculously, like, “Maybe Amma wants us to be lost on this road to help us learn something.” My response in said situation was something like, “yea, to learn how to use a map.”
My conversations with Jeff, Ann and others present made me understand more about navigating common ground. They had respect that I am a woman of faith, whether or not I attribute my faith to one God. In the end, I respect that as humans we are interconnected and our actions affect one another. If you treat yourself well, and keep your heart and mind open- you will treat others well and be receptive to them. No God needs to be named in that. But if an individual does great things and chooses to view through a religious lens, who am I to judge?
Quite honestly, referring to “Him,” in every other sentence is not something I do, or shall ever do. If only for the question, “Why not “Her”? Such a great spirit has no gender, truly. I was asked if my mission was carried out in the Lords name and I said, “My mission is in service, in truth that any Lord would respect.”
That all said, I had the most wonderful day, with wonderful people, doing volunteer work for an organization that accomplishes some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. And God gave it all to them. This was the answer to all my questions. God provides. And surely, their 18 acres was full of medical supplies, clothes, vinyl, forklifts, ships, medical trailers, wire, you name it. 500 gallons of oil to fuel the ship on its mission overseas-donated. They spend NO money on fundraising. It is ALL donated. The scale at which this organization operates made my head spin. There are few paid employees, mostly volunteers. They receive food donations from local shops. Little money spent and big things accomplished. I’ve NEVER seen anything like Friend Ships.
The funniest moment of the day came as Lilly was signing the scoot and the sun came out from the clouds. I said, “Look, here comes the sun.” And she says, “where is he?” as though I meant a son-THE son, maybe? I bit my tongue.
They asked me to join hands for prayer and spoke the most beautiful blessing for P.E.A.C.E Scoot. My day ended at 4 and I headed to Beaumont, TX. My wonderful host from the night before suggested a more scenic route. I am so glad I trusted her.
The route led me South, through the Creole Nature Trail. Then West, over a ferry and then across Pleasure Island, riding along the Gulf of Mexico. The water was brilliant blue and brown, as the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf right there. I headed North into Beaumont arriving at 9pm. It was one of the neatest rides I have made yet in my almost 14,000 miles!
And the climax? I saw a wild gator. I FINALLY SAW A GATOR IN THE WILD. For this, I have waited years, riding through bayous with bated breath, scanning every ripple. And then, yesterday, the long reptilian gator, floating downstream. I almost wrecked, circled around and pulled right in front of the NO Parking sign to snap a photo. Here it is:
I will update about NOLA next. The same thing happened this year as last, I placed myself fully in the moment and then I had to tear myself away from the magic. I have many things to tell you about NOLA though, when I’m not typing and squinting through one eye.