Wednesday, October 24 Heading Home
Well, I am home.
It feels good to say that especially knowing that I mean it in more ways than one. I have beat that theme to death in recent posts as I have increasingly settled into that realization, so I won’t review the process with you once again. I knew for sure that I was coming home when driving down I-5 this afternoon in the rain and thinking to myself, “This is nice.” I’ve lived in Oregon for twelve years and absolutely love it—with the exception of the rain! But, as I got reacquainted with this place even the rain reminded me that I am in home territory and at home with myself.
I spent the final day before flying out just pulling together the last details to make my departure. Of course, I had the tear down of the bike which has become routine. I have even looked forward to the slow and meticulous nature of it, getting it just right so that it will be easy to put back together and fit within the bike bag that makes carrying it a possibility. I enjoyed walking through the many gift shops of Konya to bring back a few souvenirs for family and friends. That was a bit of a trick as I had to find items that would fit in the pannier I had half-emptied by leaving behind a few items I needed for the trip, but wouldn’t need at home.
One of the treats of the day was the open air market that I ran across. I couldn’t believe the scope of it. In the middle of it dozens of vendors had their vegetables and fruits laid out ready for purchase. Encircling the produce vendors were another four or five dozen vendors who were selling an assortment of olives, spices, cheeses, meats and dried legumes. I was especially intrigued by one cheese that would have to be a cousin of our blue cheese. But, I swear there was more blue than cheese in the massive blocks and I wondered just how this pungent delight was consumed.
It was a short night of sleep as I wanted to get to the airport three hours before departure to make time for complications for my bike. As it turned out they didn’t even start accepting ticket holders until two hours before flight time and so I waited from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. I am not sure why the event that happened as I was escorted to the airport became so important, but it was. The driver of the hotel currier was the same person who helped me get my bike up to my room when I arrived in Konya three days prior. As we departed he gave me a big Turkish hug with the customary left and then right cheek embrace. I think it just symbolized how welcomed I felt by the Turkish people on the whole. Being asked to drink tea and share in conversation had become a routine part of most days. I really appreciated the way they took time to honor their own relationships as well as guests by this custom.
The flights home went pretty smoothly. I was pleased when my bike showed up at JFK airport in New York as I needed to pick up my own baggage and transfer it from Turkish Airlines to Jet Blue. I had a nervous couple of hours as the plane from Istanbul was nearly an hour late and then when I arrived at JFK the computer system in customs had gone down in the airports in and around New York City. It wasn’t long before a crowd of maybe 300 of us were waiting to have our passports examined as we were re-entering the country. Knowing I still had to find my bike and luggage and transfer it in an airport I hadn’t been in for 32 years made me anxious. I started with a four hour layover and by the time I made the gate for my flight to Portland I only had thirty minutes left before boarding.
I do want to publicly thank a few people who made this pilgrimage much easier by sharing their connections with friends and family in Turkey. I want to thank Mary, Nina and Patty for putting me in contact with people “on the ground” and for those who emailed me, talked to me and even hosted me while on the Turkish part of my trip—David and Evren, Shobhana, Kristen, Burcu, TC Yesim, and Pelin and Citin. I also want to thank and acknowledge of group I call “the people of Eastminster”. Your trust in me has fueled this ongoing quest to dig deeper into the soul of our religious communities and culture. Thank you!
Today I am tired after gaining ten hours and having my biological clock tinkered with. But, I do know that once I become coherent again that I will be continuing this journey. My tag line on my website feels very appropriate for what is growing in me: “Exploring the World, Discovering the Soul”. It doesn’t mean that I have to keep taking off to exotic and far off places all the time, although it does mean some of that. Part of exploring the world has to do with exploring our internal worlds. That’s one of the gifts of this particular pilgrimage—seeing how much “my deep gladness” is exploring the internal landscape of the soul. Each post was this combination of describing the external landscape of my days and territory coupled with reflections on my internal landscape.
There is an almost paradoxical reality about this that I have discovered. One would think that this almost obsessive preoccupation with myself and my inner life would make me a more selfish person. Instead, what I have discovered is that the deeper I get in touch with my own heart and soul, the more I feel connected to the Source of all life, the more love I have for each person I encounter on the road of life, and the more I appreciate the complex beauty of each one of you.
Thank you for sharing the journey with me.