Having successfully hiked each day for the last six along the coast of California while storminess threatened, we have indeed taken a scrumptious bite out of our Maine winter this January. But our debt to El Nino is coming due. He wants his pound of flesh and he wants it this weekend. But he is not why we are blown away.
As we wake this Saturday morning, we meditate and then steal a morning walk through the neighborhoods of Santa Cruz, a town of 60,000 before the rains come. Spanish for Holy Cross, Santa Cruz has its origins dating back to the 1800s and the Catholic Mission System.
After breakfast at our Comfort Inn here 70 miles south of San Francisco, we drive in light rain on route 17 out of town bracing for one of California’s triumvirate: wine tasting, earthquakes, and today traffic. None yet, but within 20 minutes we are on I-280’s ten lanes of highway heading to the 19th Avenue stretch of San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge.
In fog, the Golden Gate Bridge is still majestic. Really, we two country mice from Maine can hardly believe that we are tooling across one of the Seven Wonders of the World! With 35 miles to our Quality Inn in Petaluma, CA, we have a date with the Chiefs of Kansas City who are coming to New England to play our beloved Patriots.
Today with a full complement of players, the Patriots score early and often and have the game in hand so we celebrate in the motel hot tub as light rain falls in Petaluma, the site of American Graffiti (1973). After hiking the coast of California, our feet and knees appreciate the R and R.
The Sunday forecast is steady rain by noon, but we’ve had plans for weeks to attend the service at the Unity in Marin (Novato, CA) spiritual center. Our “religion” comes from an eclectic mix of pretty regular attendance at Unity on the River 30 miles south of home in Amesbury, MA, reading the Daily Word and Unity Magazine, and living a life of gratitude, forgiveness, and love. It’s further augmented by seeking out Unity services when we hit the road.
Today we travel 16 miles south from Petaluma, CA for the service at Unity in Marin. Unity minister’s give “talks,” not sermons. Today, Rev. Bill Englehart’s talk is entitled WTF…aith about having choices no matter the circumstances. We each have the power to choose our response to life’s challenges. Do we see ourselves as victims or do we choose another way. Instead of asking why me? Ask why not me?
And then he tells the story of his sister whose 18 year old son, Bill’s nephew, died in car accident when his teenage buddy crashed the car they were both in. His sister’s son died immediately while the teenage friend driver wearing a seatbelt lived.
What would you do if you were Bill’s sister in her profound grief? I’m guessing a past me would be crushed by the sorrow and immobilized. But in time, I hope I’d follow his sister’s lead.
What she did is call the young man to ask him if she could come over and would he be sure to have his parents there?
Once together, she forgave him. She told him not to lose his life in regret. She had a choice and she forgave him when he needed her most. She had a choice and she chose not let the poison of not being able to forgive him ruin her life. At the lowest low, she forgave him.
In my mind, I don’t think of Bill’s sister as a hero. I believe the truly heroic are embarrassed by being put on such a pedestal for just doing the right thing. For me, she is an inspiration and a reminder I have choices, even when they are not this dramatic.
Duly inspired and with only mist in the area a little before 11A, Hannah and I find a neighborhood to walk in before the deluge. Within minutes we are at the northern reaches of the San Francisco Bay (San Pablo Bay) at the Hamilton Wetlands Preserve. As we walk on the gravelly trail that winds between the former air base and the bay for nearly three miles, the rain holds off for 70 minutes on this 59F midday. This is held up as a “disappointing” day in California. I’ll take such “disappointment.”
The pelting rain arrives by 1P and we return to the hot tub at our Quality Inn in Petaluma. With rain splashing our faces and heads, we thank El Nino for one fine weekend, still blown away by Bill’s sister.