Hard to believe that my last blog post was at the end of April. So much has happened since them. Honestly, I just got overwhelmed by all the events that were occurring. So I stopped writing. I think I was also too attached to how the writing would sound, whether I’d be doing justice to the events that occurred.
But the more I think about it, the more I’m realizing that it just doesn’t really matter how the writing sounds, just so long as it gets done.
Easy for me to say; you’re the one that’s gotta sit through this and read it.
When I last left off, I was sleeping by the side of the road in San Rafael, CA. That turned out to be a good night’s sleep. I spent the next day walking in circles before I ended up sleeping outside of a United Methodist Church. The next morning I made for Novato, Ca, and was put up at a Presbyterian Church. The office administrator was really nice. She shared some food with me, and we talked a good while about the Christian path, and what it means to walk in faith.
I woke up at about 2 in the morning, and I heard a voice in my head say, “Daryl, get up, it’s time.” I knew I had about a 17-mile hike ahead of me, and it was going to be hot that day, so I definitely saw the wisdom in beginning as early as possible, but 2 AM seemed impossibly early. Still, the voice in my head insisted, and I obeyed.
I stumbled through the dark, arms wrapped around my body, trying to stay warm, unable to see but a few feet in front of me. This got to be pretty dangerous on the back road I was walking down, as cars couldn’t see me. I had to jump off the road several times to avoid being hit, and there were times when I saw cars coming at me, and I felt myself being hypnotized by the lights. It doesn’t just happen to deers.
I did my best to outrun the sun, but eventually, the sun got to be high over my head, long before I reached Petaluma. It was getting hotter and hotter, and I was growing more and more tired. I started praying, chanting, whatever I could think of to keep myself going. Around the time that I reached Mile 12, a car pulled up beside me and the woman driving it offered me a ride. I gladly accepted. “God told me to pick you up,” she said to me. She turned out to be a Christian who attended the church where I’d spent the night last night – she even knew the church office administrator who I’d met! We had a good talk during those last five miles into Petaluma.
Once I got dropped off, I decided that I needed to find somewhere to just sit. I’d been on the road for a week now and felt like I was just going from place to place – that I wasn’t really taking the time to let things digest. I wandered over to a Kadama Buddhist Center, and as I walked in, I was immediately greeted by Elizabeth, a Buddhist initiate who offered me soup and bread. I ended up staying the whole day, talking with Elizabeth, napping on their couch, and attending meditation class that evening. Elizabeth invited me to sleep in a tent in her backyard, which at this point for me, was like being offered a room at the Ritz. Then I met Charles and Francine, who owned the house, where Elizabeth was staying. They were nice enough to offer me a shower and use of the laundry machine. Later that day, Elizabeth’s brother John came to visit, so it was now the three of us hanging out together.
I’d only planned to stay a couple days. Then came the car accident.
We were heading back from grocery store with food for a barbeque (rolls, melons, chips, etc). We were about a minute away from the house when a 17 year old ran a stop sign and flew into the intersection. We hit him. Smoke billowed from underneath the hood of our car. Elizabeth had been driving, and had suffered the worst injuries – lacerations on her arms and a concussion. “Everybody out of the car,” she yelled. We piled out in a daze. Elizabeth lay on her back on the sidewalk, arms spread out. I knelt beside her, holding her hand, wondering why my vision was blurry. John was taking pictures of the accident on his smart phone. The 17-year old ran over to us, hysterical, wailing, “I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! It was totally my fault! Are you okay? I know CPR!” I just stared at him, unable to make sense of his words. Elizabeth kept trying to calm him down while shouting at John, “Get the watermelon and the rolls out of the car!” I’d had enough presence of mind to grab my bag of groceries, but I finally realized that my vision was blurry because I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I ran back to the car and got them.
What was going to be a 3-day stay in Petaluma turned into 2 weeks. Elizabeth needed lots of bed rest, and since I’d sprained my shoulder and couldn’t continue on, I stayed with John to help Elizabeth out and recover myself. I ended up volunteering at the Kadampa Buddhist Center and found that the more I did their meditations, the more my mind went to Yeshua (Jesus). In fact, his name just erupted involuntarily from my lips. I realized that for all my talk about not wanting to follow the Christian path and needing to follow my own path (the Mad Griot path), I had a connection to Yeshua that was undeniable. No sense in fighting it. I needed all the help I could get.
A friend of Elizabeth’s visited us after hearing about the accident, and when she learned about my pilgrimage, she sent an email blast to all her friends about me. A couple days later, I got a call from a woman named Joan who lived in Sebastopol. She’d gotten the email and offered me a place to stay once I arrived there.
About mid-May, two weeks after arriving in Petaluma, I woke up around 5 in the morning and heard a voice in my head say, “It’s time.”
So I stared walking again. Sebastopol bound.