Friday, July 4, 2014

Peaks and Valleys

"Why is there always crap in the valleys........"

"Well, I've got open eyes,
And an open door", Passenger

The path is long, filled with peaks and valleys. Smooth soft sand in spots. Tree roots and rocks in others.
Narrow, 18 inches wide in most spots. 
The destination is somewhere up ahead. The path changes over and over again as it winds it's way through trees and open meadows.
There is a stream that flows beside the path. 
Fallen trees.

Whether smooth or rocky the footing can be difficult.

Three songs play over and over again in my ears.
"What would love do" "Crash" "Dying to live" by Scott Stapp

"Go ahead and throw it in my face, remind me of each of my mistakes...... What would love do" Scott Stapp

My footing slips...... 

The path turns downward.....

At the bottom of the hill there is something on the path. It looks like its breathing.

"A pile of horse crap!" Covered in flies.

Isn't it funny, life brings us peaks and valleys. Low times and mountain top experiences. 

I was on the mountain, but life brought a path that lead to a valley.

In the valley did I say, "this way is full of shit?"

A decision......
"Step around" (take the long way around), "Step over" (expend the additional energy to keep going, "Step in it" (smell like shit but keep plugging along).

"When you get too high you crash,
Suddenly I feel my feet again,
Standing in the place where I once fell over the edge...." Scott Stapp

Go ahead step over it. It's the shortest way to pass!.

The path turns up.
It's going up right? Life is looking better! 


There's something on the path again. It looks like its breathing!

Really!!!!! It can't be. 

"A pile of horse crap". Covered in flies!.

That's not supposed to be there.  The mountain top is supposed to be clear.

"Isn't it!!!!!"

The view is certainly nice. 

My life has been full of many, many ups and downs.
Smooth paths!
Rocky paths!
Isn't that the way most people view their lives?

The path. No matter whether it has been represented by a valley or a mountaintop, has at times had crap on it. 
And the decision has been made.........

"Step around" (take the long way around), "Step over" (expend the additional energy to keep going, "Step in it" (smell like shit but keep plugging along).

"I'm dying to breath in every moment,
I'm dying to make up for lost time,
I'm dying to let go and finally feel what real love is,
I'm dying to start this whole thing over,
I'm dying to see with brand new eyes,
I'm dying to love myself enough to just forgive.

I'm dying to live"
Scott Stapp

My hike along the path of the day was to a place called Four Mile Falls. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012



Halfway closed....... Halfway open........
Circling water
Dark deep
Meandering corridors, Cold stones sweat
Echoes from within
Doors heavy, big and wide
Rusty hinges
Creaking closed
Rooms contained
Safety inside
Chambers, spaces
Hidden well
Creaking open
Halfway open...... Halfway closed......
                         Written by: Terence Grandfield

The journey started some months ago.......

A book. "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri Nouwen.

Not a prolific book reader, I think you may be able to count on the digits of my hands and feet the total number of books that I've read in my lifetime. But this one affected me.

The story of a "homecoming"!

In this book, Nouwen recounts his infatuation with a painting by Rembrandt, "The Prodigal Son" and how he would sit for hours starring at this painting. Even going to see the original at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia.

A "homecoming" of a beloved son! A father that never gives up!

With open arms!!!!!!!!

This began my finding of the writings of Nouwen to stir thoughts in me. Struggles in my life at that time were needing to be addressed.

"Meandering corridors, Cold stones sweat
Echoes from within"

I have ignored for too long.

I found myself taking the "Return of the Prodigal Son" to work and finding myself opening the book at various times in the day to read just a few more lines. The words seemed to speak directly to me.

Was Henri writing is book for me?

"Doors heavy, big and wide
Rusty hinges
Creaking closed"

Another book by Nouwen, "The Inner Voice of Love". A devotional styled book with short readings. The story of Henri as he went through a seriously anguished period in his life. One in which Henri sequesters himself away for several months. Many times questioning himself about the "pain" he had endured throughout his life. The feelings of abandonment and rejection.

The lack of knowing a true love.

"Rooms contained
Safety inside
Chambers, spaces
Hidden well
Creaking open"

The journey begins Sunday August the 11th. It concludes Wednesday December 5th. Four months!

Did I learn?

Thought this period I have also been seeing a counselor. I have taken an antidepressant. At times use Xanax to help me sleep.

My dreams haunt me!

A mess!

"Halfway closed Halfway open"...........

"The Inner Voice of Love" speaks to my heart......

Over the four month period I have learned to listen to a voice that speaks from deep within. A haunting voice.

A reading from Henri Nouwen's book, "The Inner Voice of Love" almost jumped off the page and became an audible voice to me. It was one that I read on November 25th.The title was, "Permit Your Pain to Become the Pain".

"Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because hurts you had at a specific time and in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment, and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Pilate condemned him, Roman soldiers tortured and crucified him.

Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from "your" pain to the "pain". When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seeks revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in humanity's pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, who prayed on the cross: "Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Jesus' suffering, concrete as it was, was the suffering of all humanity. His pain was "the" pain.

Every time you can shift your attention away from the external situation that caused your pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which you participate, your suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a "light burden" and an "easy yoke" (Matthew11:30). Once you discover that you are called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, your very personal pain begins to be converted into "the" pain and you find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians". 

                                            Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love.

"I am worthy. I am loved. I will not be abandoned. I am coming home"

Find me on Twitter @tgranfield, Facebook @thegrandfields

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Turbulent Waters

"We're going to climb to the top"

Recently I spent a week in Pagosa Springs, Colorado with my best friend Steve Potter and his wife Anja. Flying into Durango from Denver in a two engine prop plane. "Can this thing go that high?" As we sit on the tarmac awaiting take off I am seated next to a young man that is a college student at Colorado state, his father leans across the isle and says to his son, " the rubber band is winding up". This along with what sounded like the buzzing of bees was coming from the engines. I chuckle to myself. In the navy I flew in many aircraft as a aerial photographer but still to this day I really get apprehensive when I get into an aircraft. I despise takeoffs.

But anyway the flight was uneventful and quite beautiful as we flew over the Rocky mountains. Rising up from the 5200 foot elevation of Denver to the mind numbing elevation of some of the mountain peaks. Can we really fly that high?

My friend Steve has invited me out to Pagosa to bike ride the Rockies. " We will ride to the top of Wolf Creek Pass". 10,856 feet. "You are insane". One afternoon as Steve is busy with work, I take a car for a reconnaissance drive to the top. "This isn't so bad". As I drive along route 160 motoring towards the mountains I stop to take several pictures.
This day the Aspens were glowing like gold!

Wow is it beautiful out here! 

But after reaching the parking lot that is at the Treasure Falls altitude of 8300 feet I find the road does nothing but tilt upward from there. The pass is a full eight miles from Treasure Falls. The next 2 miles are in an area where the road is so steep that it has several switch backs. In the switch back areas my guess would be that the road twists up at possibly 12-15% grade. Maybe even a little more. Ouch!!!!! Another few miles and I crest the mountain at the continental divide. 10,856 feet. No fanfare. Just a couple of trucks drivers stopped to look at the sign explaining where we were. 10,856 feet up in the air. That's almost two miles high. And I'm gonna ride. Well if the ride up wouldn't have been enough the ride down may even seem worse. 45-50 miles per hour on a 1 inch narrow strip of rubber pumped up to 115 pounds per square inch. Pop! Road rash to the bone!

Wednesday comes and Steve and I take a drive into New Mexico along the San Juan river to the quality trout waters for a day of fishing. The drive was gorgeous. As we drive through canyons for approximately one and half hours I am amazed at the stark beauty of the countryside. We traverse a Navajo Indian reservation. Climbing one final hill to the top of a dam, at the crest the road sharply turns down to the river floor below. In a short time our guide, Steve and I are on the San Juan river in a boat large enough for three people. No motor. Fly fishing poles. The guide and two oars.

For the next eight hours we float with the currents down the river. Our guide, Mike, stopping the boat at times in the current by way of an anchor that he can release and pickup from his seated rowing position in the middle of the boat. In fact the oars are really only used as a way for Mike to steer the boat from one side of the river to the other looking for "holes" where the fish may be feeding. There are few times that Mike uses the oars to paddle us back up stream, against the current so we can drift along with the current. Somehow Mike new exactly how to control the speed of the boat so the flies that we were using would travel along in the water looking natural to the fish. During this drift fishing trip that we were taking, I would often look at the river and the current driving us along. The surface of the water at times having a glassy appearance, but at times as I would look ahead I could see the waters in the river becoming quite turbulent.

God would speak to me along this trip. I have been following along in a book by a christian writer by the name of Henri Nouwen and in the book he speaks much about anguish and embracing it. Learning to accept it. This trip along the river that day spoke to me. In a dream I had recently I dreamt of myself in a boat floating along a river much like my trip with Steve that day on the San Juan river. In my dream there were periods in which the boat that I was in there was a current driving the boat. A current that was almost imperceptible as the surface of the water was smooth and glassy. But at times I could see the waters becoming more and more turbulent. The funny thing was the day that we were fishing, Steve in the back of the boat and I in the front, we could and would stand for a great portion of the day. It was at the these times when we would approach these turbulent faster moving waters that I would brace myself. At the position where is was standing there was this "C" shaped attachment part of the boat that you would stand in and brace yourself with your thighs. Feet spread as wide as possible. All the time casting our flies. Hoping for a bite. There where these floating things on the line, Mike called them indicators, I would have called it a bobber, that as soon as a trout would in any way touch your lure we were to react quickly. Mike would yell, many times I was looking around at the beauty of the scenery. "Terry! Now!" No matter how the water was moving, NOW! And if the reaction was not quick enough or the correct way there would be no chance of catching a trout.

The trout we caught that day were all released

The final half an hour on the river as we drifted with the current to our pickup location I would just sit and enjoy. Reflecting. The river represented life, my journey, smooth and glassy at times. Rough and turbulent at others. Rocks along the way. Mike would warn, "Terry we may scrape bottom here". Standing in the front I could see the bottom of the river, the rocks. Some appeared small. Some big. The big ones would cause me to press harder and harder with my thighs on the "C" shape. Bracing for the impact. But even as we would hit these rocks the boat seemed to keep going. At times the river would diverge, separating at points where there were large boulders. But as we continued to get closer and closer to these places Mike would use the oars to guide the boat. Left or right, speeding up as the current separated around the blockage. Converging on the other side. Funny thing was that it was in these areas where these rocks were that there was was a thin sliver of water that actually flowed in the opposite direction. Flowing up stream. Mike would call these eddys. God spoke to me, " don't go back, don't hide in the eddys, continue down stream". God was my boat. The river may get turbulent at times. It may be smooth at others. There will be hidden rocks. There will be blockages. Continue to float. Go with the current.

"Be patient and trust. You have to move gradually deeper into my heart. There is a place far down that is like a turbulent river, and that place frightens you. But do not fear. One day it will be quiet and peaceful." Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

The next day came the day for our ride to the top. Wolf Creek Pass loomed ahead.

The road towards Wolf Creek Pass. 

Steve and I drove the car to a point on the outskirts of Pagosa Springs, we parked and geared up. Approximately 24 miles to Wold Creek Pass. Mostly up hill in some way or another. Steve leading as my guide. God has given me another guide on my trip to Colorado. Steve pushing through the head wind. As we continue on route 160 the mountain pass looming closer and closer the road begins to tilt up a little more. I have put quite a few miles on my legs this year on my bicycle but this is different. Steve and I completed a 170 mile ride across the state of Florida in April in 10 hours. This was very different. Climbing is not my thing. Especially in the rarified air of the Rockies.

Wow is this beautiful! I have to stop to take a pictures.

The roads tilts up again. A 1.5 mile stretch at 8% grade. I stop about 3/4 of the way up. Steve has made it to the parking lot at Treasure Falls already.
Treasure Falls

My guide, my friend turns around and comes back down the mountain to check on me. As I lean on my handle bars Steve pulls up next to me to see if I'm alright. I'm fine just breathing very hard. We start again, Steve pulls in front, " not sure if you can draft going up hill but get behind me". As we start the rain starts to spit. The temperature has dropped. But Steve is still willing to catch me if I fall, to lead me to the top of Wolf Creek Pass. Steve has only been on his bike one time in the previous five weeks due to a neck injury. But he is still willing to endure the mental pain of this bike ride to get me there. Yes mental pain! This day, September 27th is three days before my 54 birthday. A little over one year from when Steve summited Wolf Creek Pass for the first time. Steve, two years ago had a heart attack and had stints put in his chest. Up to this day Steve have reached the summit nine times. We stop at the falls for a few minutes. Decide it is not the best day to go on further and start the trip back. Sixteen miles of flat out flying. Again Steve leading the way.

Our view across the road from Treasure Falls

My final day in beautiful Pagosa Springs. Whether drifting down a river in New Mexico seeing the current smooth or turbulent. Or riding a bicycle up a mountain. My trip to Colorado has given me an opportunity to see........

Seeing God as a boat keeping me safe in the current. Or seeing God in a mountain speaking through the ruggedness and beauty of it all. Reminding me that God is in control.

Friday, July 20, 2012


                                   "God's not afraid of your honesty, 
                          He can heal your heart if you speak honestly"

 "Why God? You can't be real if you are allowing me to go through this. I'm starting think that there really isn't a god there after all".

 These are the words of a man I recently met sitting on a bench in front of a statue of Mary holding the crucified body of Jesus Christ. Mike was his name.

 But you see these are also the words I had come to the place where I was at to speak to God myself.

 I had pulled into the parking lot of St. Isadore church in Quakertown the other day. A big Catholic church with beautiful grounds but closed to visitors at the time I was there for the lunch hour. I notice a statue of the virgin Mary. The statue was in a garden area with a paved walk and two stone benches. The plaque called this the "semi circular garden". The stones benches created a broken circle. I sit contemplating. Praying. Speaking to God honestly.

 I notice to my left next to the church building itself another statue of a man. I am assuming it was a statue St. Isadore. Again I am drawn to stand and be quiet. The grounds of St. Isadore church are beautiful. Various garden areas in honor of past members. A little pond with a fountain spewing water several feet into the air on this very hot July day. I turn and there is a small stone building down a grassy knoll. There is another statue. I can't quite make out the statue so I walk down mainly to sit on one of the two benches in front of the statue. As I get closer is when I notice it is a woman holding the crucified body of Jesus Christ. I sit. 

Several minutes pass. I notice a figure, a man coming towards me on the stone walkway towards the area where I am. My initial thought is, " I am here to be alone". As the man keeps getting closer I can make out that he is smiling. He comes closer. Turn the music in my ears off. He sits on the bench across from me. I say, " how are you today?".

 "Not too good, I am going to commit suicide today".

 Loss of words. Thoughts collide within my mind. Huh? I look at the statue. The crucified body of Jesus. The woman cradling the body so lovingly.

 What's you name? "Mike". What's going on? Mike proceeds to tell me a story of brokenness. Homelessness. Hunger. Mike shows me scars on his arm. One at his wrist. Two up near the bend in his elbow. Jagged scars. Attempts at suicide before. "You know I really don't believe there is a God anymore. Why would God let me get to this point in my life"?

 Mike I have no money. "That's alright, not sure it would help at this point anyway". Mike and I talk for several minutes. All the sudden Mike stands to walk away. I follow and tell Mike that in my car the ashtray is full of penny's collected over the months. You are welcome to all there is. We talk as we walk towards my car. I sit to pull all the coins from the ashtray. He holds his hands out and to my amazement there are several silver coins also. "That's quite a bit of money" Mike says. After putting the change in his pockets he turns to walk away. "Mike can I pray with you"?

After a prayer asking God to make himself real to both Mike and myself. You see my feelings towards God have been at best anger lately. I have questioned more often than I can admit lately , "WHY"!

Mike looks me square in the eyes and says, " this is not happen chance that you were here today was it"? No I have never been to this place ever before. Mike while looking squarely in my eyes, so deep it was as if he could look into my sole says, " you know, maybe there is a God after all".

Mike turns and walks away never saying another word.

Was Mike real? Was Mike an angel? I have related this story to several people in the past couple of days as I am compelled to tell it over and over again and all have said, " maybe it was an angel".

Whatever, whomever Mike was he came to me in a time of need. A simple meeting in a place I had never been before. Both mentally and physically. In my honestly I believe God came to me in the form of Mike.

I will never turn from being HONEST with God. I cannot. Sometimes it may be ugly but God knows my thoughts already, why not be honest.

One of my favorite artist, Margaret Becker sings a song:


 "Tonight by the glow of the firelight You found the courage to speak your mind And tear down the walls You've been hiding behind

You spoke of your struggle And you cried from the pain You spoke of your failure And then you turned in shame You said, you knew you'd never be alright

God's not afraid of your honesty He can heal your heart if you speak honestly Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by, no 

So many of us spend so much time Smoothing things over, pretending we're fine As if life could ever be so cut and dried 

But you my, friend You've got that passionate heart It'll curse you sometimes But it can take you far When you let Him tame it You will be just fine

Oh, God's not afraid of your honesty He can heal your heart if you speak honestly Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by, no, no, ooh 

You may feel like you're crawling Over broken glass, crying a river Into the pillows of your past But you will be free, yeah 

Oh,God's not afraid of your honesty He can heal your heart if you speak honestly Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by 

God's not afraid of your honesty He can heal your heart if you speak honestly Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by"

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Let it Rain"


 "And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights". Genesis 7:12 

 It's raining again! No, please not again!

The rain is hyperbole!

In my life the rain seems to be coming down. No not again! Is it gonna last forever? How many time have you been in the middle of a rain storm? I remember many times living in Florida, those afternoon rain storms would come up. Buckets! Literally buckets of rain would come down. The skies would open up and the rain would come down. Not being able to see from one side of the street to the other. But even as the rain came down at most times I had in my mind just wait, give it 15 minutes, the sun will shine again.

Can you imagine Noah. The sixth hundredth year of his life (ok allegory here, I think, cause we all know that no one lives to the ripe old age of six hundred years, do they?). Here's this old geezer, and God tells him that he's had it with the inhabitants of the earth. He tells Noah to built an ark. Now I'm not sure of the measurements, 300 cubits X 50 cubits X 30 cubits. (But remember this could be allegory.) But what ever, it's BIG! The rain comes down! For what? There's no boat launches anywhere around. Get on the boat! Its a deluge. When's it gonna stop? The rain keeps coming down!

40 days and 40 nights. I can only imagine Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives getting on a boat, an Ark. God told Noah to build this Ark. Are you kidding me? Do what? For what? Can you think of what his friends say. The ridicule. It's gonna rain. Its dry as a board out here. We live in a desert. The whole earth is gonna be flooded. Whatever! (But it's allegory!) How can the whole earth be flooded?

The rains come down. When is it ever gonna stop? But the ARK meant something. Our lives are filled with periods of rains. When are they are they gonna stop? Do we have an ARK? Climb aboard. On an ARK? It feels like its gonna rain for days. It rained for 40 days for Noah and his family. At times I can only imagine the boys, their wives, maybe even Noah's wife. "Maybe pops his gone off his rocker. But, HE was right about the rain. But when is it gonna end? These animals stink!

The rain comes down for days. The sun will come out. The rain will end! I ask when's it gonna end?

The ARK represents something to me. A safe haven! In a rainstorm? A what? Are you serious ? It's pouring in my life. Get on the boat! The rain will end! The sun will shine. Sooner or later the water will recede. Keep your boat. I want the rain to stop! I want the sun to come out. Hell in Florida it was quite the usual that during those rain storms you could cross the road to the other side of the street and the sun would be shinning. I want an escape from the storm!

But the rain storms are there for a purpose. I am beginning to realize this and that there is a safe harbor. An ARK! I may have to stay on the boat for awhile. Maybe a long time.

Imagine Noah and his family, on this boat, the ARK, for close to 10 months. What, I thought it rained for only 40 days and forty nights. 40 days maybe i can handle that but 10 months. Are you really serious? Yes but it took for that long for the water to go down. Get on board!!!!!! Stay on board! Don't jump ship! The waters are turbulent off the ARK!

Is it going to end. Yes! But stay there. On the ARK! But I want to get off. The rain has stopped! When does life continue after the rain. Does it?

Noah and his family got off the ARK and the earth had been leveled. Destruction everywhere. (it's allegory remember). Let's see, Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives. Eight people and a whole bunch of animals. Re-populate and entire planet. Is that the sun shinning. My friends, the rest of my family, they're all gone. Not sure about that in my mind. But I have to remember the ARK! It was there for me.

Through every rain storm the rain will come down, there may even be thunder, lightning, but it always seems to end. Noah was provided an ARK! I have been provided a support group, a wife, six kids (wait a minute that's eight people also!) A best friend!

Last night as I was pondering this whole concept of the ARK, Danese and I talked about what it must have been like for Noah. For anyone going through the rain storm. Now it has not really rained here in my home state of Pennsylvania for a bit, it's getting very dry, but don't you know that through the middle of the night the skies opened up and the rain came down with thunder and lightning. The sounds of the rain coming down and the thunder cracking woke me from a sound sleep. The first thing that came to mind was I have to keep getting on that ARK! No matter how many storms come.

At the end of the movie Even Almighty the character Evan and the representation of God, Morgan Freeman are standing under a tree and Even is saying that God knew all along what was going to happen. Morgan Freeman has a stick in his hand and in the dirt he scratches the letters, A R K. And he says, " Acts of Random Kindness". The ARK is a safe harbor through the storm for me. It is a place that has been afforded me to get on board. Experience the Love that my God has shown to me. To you also!!!!! Get on board!

As I am sitting here this morning listening to music, another form of an ARK for me, my cell phone goes off that I have received a text. Our good family friend (who happens to be our family hair stylist/artist) Ashely asked what do I take in my coffee. On her way to work she stops by with a fresh cup of coffee. But to boot I will admit I am not the best of taking care of myself in the arena of eating properly during the work day and Ashley and I talked about this just the other day as I was sitting in Ashley's getting my hair cut. Ashley also brought me a "protein power pack" lunch.

Thank you my God for brining an ARK (act of random kindness) to me this morning!!!!!!!!! And for the storm in the middle of the night! And for ALWAYS providing an ARK for me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why are we overcome with fear

"Why are we overcome with fear, what if I told that fear isn't real"..... "What if I told you my friends, you could live without". FEAR!!!!!

    Eight weeks ago I was in Florida getting ready to take part in a ride that started on the east coast of Florida in Cocoa Beach. The bike would end almost eleven hours later at Linda Peterson state park in Weeki Watchee Springs, Florida. 170 miles later. Actual time on the saddle of the bike was 9 hours 57minutes. In one day. The furthest I had ridden in any one day in almost 20 years was probably 50 miles. Three times that distance. What was I thinking. But with the support of my wife Danese, Steve's wife Anja, daughters Rebekah and Lisa-Nöel and my nephew Tyler off we went. They were driving that same 170 miles at basically 25-35 mile clips. Meeting up. Replenishing liquids. Making sure that I ate. Making sure to re-apply sunscreen. Ah the Florida sun. 88 degrees. Not the usual 99% Florida humidity but higher then my home state of Pennsylvannia non the less. And of course, 12-15 mile per hour head wind the whole frigging 170 miles. 160 riders started. My best friend Steve Potter had flown in from Pagosa Springs Colorado. Both Steve and I had done this ride in 92 & 93. Steve and I had talked, chatted, daily on Google gchat. Encouraging each other. Pushing each other. WE HAD TO DO IT! There was this driving force. You see Steve and I had not physically seen each other in 18 years. Yes there were tears! A day still of encouraging. Pushing. Pulling. The finish line, 170 miles ridden. A raised glass. A toast! Two old friends reunited in a common undertaking.

    Two weeks later. Chest pain. Shortness of breath. WTF!!!!!. " No it can't be"!!!!! Emergency room. 24 hour hospital stay. Testing. All coming up negative. Anxiety? What? Schedule a nuclear stress test. Put it off a couple weeks. "We have to get your heart rate to a specific level then we will inject you with a nuclear tracer and you'll walk another minute then we'll take pictures of your heart to see where the blood is going under stress". Heart at the desired level, ah crap, blood pressure shoots up to 215 over 72. Hmmmmmm! "That's not good". What do you mean by that? Couple days later. Chest tightness and shortness of breath again. Call the doctor. "Get to the emergency room right now, the stress test results were, abnormal". FEAR!!!!!! Cardiac catheterization test. No blockages. Hell, no plaque at all. WTF? FEAR!!!!!

Why are we overcome with fear. What if I told you fear isn't real. "Whatever"! Tell my brain it's not real. 

    Today, eight weeks later my first more lengthy bike ride. 28.7 miles. Frigging hills. What a place to test your heart. Test your FEAR. Not bad. Legs are a little soft. Breathing a little stressed. 170 miles, honestly felt a little more tired than the last 50 miler that I had done. Eight weeks, it goes so quickly. The first hill, a 300 meter 3% grade. Heart rate up. FEAR!!! Turn around, this is stupid. The music on the play list keeps playing songs with a reference to fear. WTF! I've just had probably 20 plus thousands of dollars of test, my heart is fine. But they didn't test the brain. Is there a way?


     Ah, a glass of wine. Maybe two. Maybe three. Hm the doctor gave me a scrip for Xanxax. FEAR..... It isn't real you know? But it is real. My heart rate going up, my tightness in my chest. Both are real. But my mind has created the fear.

   " For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7.

    A sound mind. Over the past 18 months I was given a prescription by my primary care physician for both an anti depressant and anti anxiety. In the 18 months fear has raised its ugly head more often than I care to even admit to myself. That fear has come in many forms. I have over the past 18 months struggled with self esteem. FEAR!!!!!! Am I good enough? Why couldn't I be this person or that person? Who am I? The self esteem issue has opened up many other forms of fear in my brain. You can't do that! 170 miles! Support a family of our size!

    "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7.

Why can't I just get it?

I will keep trying. I did it today. 28.7 miles. It's a start right? I am good enough. God certainly thinks so. Does it matter who else does!!!!!!!!!

"Why are we overcome with fear, what if I told that fear isn't real"..... "What if I told you my friends, you could live without", lyrics by Scott Stapp form The Great Divide album.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Look around! What do you see?

"You see, I'm looking for the You that used to speak so clear
I'm looking for the me that had a heart to hear
And I'm looking for the passion that held me here
On the edge". Margaret Becker Find Me

In the hustle and bustle of our lives with this distraction and that distraction have we forgotten to take the time to look around?

We are all so busy with trying to learn from others we forget to learn from "life". Have you ever taken the time to sit and listen? Away from the normalcy of our life? In my quest to try understand this "Perceived Presence" that keeps hunting me I am looking around more and more. As I begin to understand that there are no coincidences, and as I begin to take them seriously, I begin to realize that there is something more. Something spiritual is operating under everything we do. As I begin to realize this I have come to believe in a new view of life. I am beginning to see life around me as one of energy, an energy that I can draw upon. An energy I can learn from.

Many many years ago I had a fledgling friendship with a person that I met by happen chance. My family and I, living in Edgewater Florida at the time, went to friends house for an afternoon party. As we were walking up to our fiends house a tall man and his son came riding up on bicycles. At that time in my life I was very much into bike riding and instantly struck up a conversation with this guy and his son. As the days and weeks went on we became mutual bike riding buddies and enjoyed each others company on many bike rides. Even going so far as entering in a bicycle ride that begins in Cocoa Beach Florida and ending north of Tampa Florida, 172 miles, in one day. But as life moves on we went our separate ways and did not speak for many many years. And as God is my witness I do not remember how, but within the past 12 months, a period of time in my life when I needed a friend the most, this man and I have gotten into contact again. In the past months, this man and I have, over the miles of distance between Pagosa Springs Colorado and Center Valley Pennsylvania, become best friends. Coincidence? Hmmmmm..... Some 20 years ago, someone, something new that I would need a friend. There was something spiritual working that afternoon as this guy pulled up on his bike. My FRIEND, Steve Potter, has become a sounding board, an encourager and a motivator. Both Steve and I have renewed our love of bike riding. At 53 years old, Steve is older than I, believe we are in better shape than we have been in many many moons. Both physically and more importantly, mentally.

I have asked Steve to write a story for "our" blog. The story follows. Read and enjoy. Go find a place you can listen to the world around. See if you can listen to what the universe is telling you.......

The days go by so rapidly as the thoughts of another winter approach... Peddling the bike toward some quicker resolve of the impending cold seems futile...There is such beauty wrapped up in the seasonal changes sometimes you have to just stop and think. How fortunate am I to live in a place God has Blessed with an abundance of proof that he exists.... I have re-awakened recently to an old world that I enjoyed for so many years and left behind with the demands of work, poor judgement and decisions that complicated life..... Thinking that all I had to do was to work harder was fine, to not step back and learn from past decisions was not conducive to placing the train back on the track.... Work is still there and is no less consuming than ever before. More successful yes true, but taking time to reacquaint myself with things that I have enjoyed years past has helped bring renewed friendships and a new perspective to life...

The bicycle is not the answer to life's mysteries. To me, it is a simple and genuine means of reacquainting myself with the goals and desires for which I have had.... There is something genuine about the relationship of the bike to the rider, and the rider to the world in which you have been placed....

Riding along a new stretch of highway often reveals sights that you may have passed by on numerous occasions, but until now have never revealed the intricate struggles that make its existence significant...

The flora on the cliffs of a mountain pass, as they cling to side of the shear stone faces persevere long hard winters, torrential rains, and long stretches of dry high desert winds.... Yet somehow, you relate to them on a more personal level. Their struggle to survive makes them strong, vibrant, and worthy of being your equal in the desire to live...

I never really understood why there is such satisfaction in the suffering that accompanies the shear desire to climb a 11,000' pass.... Nor can I rationalize the anxiety that occurs within while planning an epic ride. A ride into the rarified air that extends beyond a perceived limit of one's training.... Although, the inner peace that is born from the physical suffering, and the pushing of ones limits creates a renewed strength of the mind, body, and spirit... The suffering becomes familiar, and like an old friend you return to visit... and visit often... Suffering is something that reminds us of our frailties, our limits, it can make us weak or make us stronger.... Suffering, instills us with the desire to overcome, conquer and not to quit... Tennyson said "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"... Suffering becomes part of that journey.. something we relate to on a more personal level. Maybe bringing us closer to our goals, our dreams, and our God....

In the end though, we often find that success serves as fuel for our inner fire.....It's baffling how I can feel so much closer to God doing a bike ride.... The time spent in the saddle allows me time to reflect upon my world and to talk to God without interruption......The reason we began doing something may change... Where once the ride was something I did for my physical health has now turned into something done to feed my spirit.... Yes maybe it is an escape, but it has also has become a refuge or hiding spot that allows me to shut out the world for a moment, without closing any doors....

The mountain flora that clings to that cliff? Survives all the seasonal suffering but, produces the flower that imprints a permanent picture upon my mind as I pass by... And with the steady churning of my legs, a familiar burning begins that is embraced, as if an old friend has come to visit..... We ride together up the mountain.... Striving to reach the goal, resolving not to yield. Reaching the summit, the suffering departs, a new dream begins, and I look forward to the next time we can visit again....

Steven J. Potter

Steve and I have made a plan to travel to Cocoa Beach Florida this spring, April 1st. to be exact, the first time we will physically see each other in 20 years, and ride the Cross Florida bike ride. This ride is sponsored by the Space Coast Freewheelers. It is one day and covers 172 miles. A day that began long ago, brought about by a non coincidence. An ordered event designed by a "Perceived Presence" in both our lives.