This Road Trip Brought to you by…

“The true test of brotherhood is not when men succeed, but when they fail” ~Me.

As the Amtrak train moves over the lazy river and away from Sacramento I am reflecting on all the people who have been a part of my journey from Portland back to San Rafael. It is an impressive array of very old friends,  and some new ones, peppered with complete strangers all of who were agents of the grace and mercy of God to me.

Credit Where Credits are Due

"A Moose Once Bit My Sister..."

Without further ado then, I give you the credits for this trip, both to show my gratitude and also to prove I am regaining my sense of humor.

They are in chronological order of sorts (using first names only as some may wish some level of anonymity when it comes to associating themselves with my debacle):

Pre-trip motel accommodations

Patty

Transportation from Portland to Sacramento

Devin

Catering (Starbucks)

Judith

Special Amrak stop in Mt. Shasta

Amtrak staff

Special Horizontal Sirenic Transport to Mt. Shasta General

Mt. Shasta EMT

Intravenous fluids and nights shirts

Nurse Arlene

Initial medical assessment

Dr. Molly

Knock-out drug

Mystery Anesthesiologist

Upper GI Camera operator

Dr. Steven

Catering (jello & broth)

Mt. Shasta General kitchen

Spiritual counsel (Mt. Shasta) & communications

Chaplain Ray

Medical prescriptions

Chaplain Ray

Spongebath

Nurse Bev

Transportation to Amtrak (Mt. Shasta)

Chaplain Ray

Transportation in Sacramento

Stephen

Running around town to County agencies

Stephen

Spiritual Counsel & Communications (Sacramento)

Stephen and Brent

Motel Accommodations (Sacramento)

Warehouse Christian Ministries

Catering (Perkos)

Warehouse Christian Minstries

Catering (Starbucks)

Judith

Non-catering (no coffee or juice at breakfast bar)

Travelodge Micron Way

Special non-working door cards & wi-fi passes

Travelodge Micron Way

Special Non-Harmonious Barking Dog Effects Next Door till 2 a.m.

Travelodge Micron Way

Endless Amounts of Media to Pass Time (White Collar and Fringe episodes till my eyes bled)

Bittorrent

Gospel of St. John Biblical Elucidation

Stephen

Temporary Lightsaber (NIV Bible)

Stephen

Preaching

Ryan

“Socks and Poo-Poo Undies” from Ross

Stephen

Catering (Starbucks)

Judith

Encouragement calls to room

Fred, Leslie and Miles

Dining and Final Case Review

Stephen and Debbie

Transportation to Amtrak for final trip to Richmond

Stephen

Humorous Indonesian Travelogue

Stephen

Catering (Starbucks)  for Stephen & Mac

Judith

And there you have it. It does not name the amazing staff at Mt. Shasta General who literally treated me like Jesus Himself in their care, nursing me back to health

Also, special thanks to the Rev. Louis Neely, one of my most significant mentors, for unabashedly welcoming me to Sacramento and giving sanction to the detailed care and counsel I received there for five entire days (and at no small expense).

Toward Mental Health

"Would Mssr. like a wafer-thin mint?"

Now if that seems flippant, then perhaps it is. But I think a part of seeking mental health is a  healthy ability to laugh at oneself, even in dire circumstances. And I admit they have been dire. A week ago right now I was flat on my back awaiting a meeting with my doctor who was gonna knock me out and stick a scope down my throat and look at the inside of my stomach to see if I was still bleeding internally. The less said about what happened on the train the better except to say it was beyond scary. Any time I pull a train over it is a bona fide emergency.

The fact is it was only gonna get worse in Portland. With no way to deal effectively with my bi-polar issues, and no safe place to land, I was a greater risk staying than taking the chance to board the train and make it to Sacramento.

Now, a week later, I am healthy in body, heart and mind. Clear, relaxed and my meds are finally kicking in (for even a few days ago a day like today with all it’s uncertainty would have been way too much for me to handle).

Now I can take things one step at a time, and the plan was reviewed last night by both Stephen and his wife Debbie (also an old friend) at dinner. I am confident it is the right one, though I do not expect there will not be glitches and problems along the way.

My sincere hope is to end this blog in the next two months.

Why do I insist on writing so nakedly about this whole journey? Well, for one it helps me process. Second, it helps others who struggle to now they are not alone. Third, because I can and you probably cannot.

The Arrival

Wayne Thiebaud is awesome.

We are passing some of the sloughs and Delta waterways that Wayne Thiebaud (one of my favs) has painted in such amazing fashion. This path down I-80 is one I have known intimately for 33 years. It is best done by train.

The initial quote is something I want to discuss briefly.

It is in failure and in breakdown that you find out both what you are made of (and not made of) and also the true character of your friends.

People have one of three reactions. They engage you closer; the watch passively not knowing what to do, or they distance themselves like you have a spiritual or mental pathogen.

The best example is concerning prayer. Two different people say they will “pray for you” or are. One does so with a sense of calling, gravitas and openness to be led in such. Their concern has a weightiness to it.

The other is a simple sleight-of-hand dismissal.

I understand that some people are simply not able to engage much of anything that is weighty. Certainly not with the seriousness due it. And, frankly, my own admission of brokenness scares them because underneath they know they are just as broken, just in different ways.

I do not decide who is who. Never. Not my place. But I know that some of my friends fall into one category, and some into the other…with a healthy grouping inbetween.

When I left Cityteam it was hard on the men I had been with, but I doubt it stopped many of them from descending on my “stuff” like a band of carrions looking for some fresh meat.

We’ll see how much of my stuff was saved by my brothers. As I said, the true test of brotherhood is when you fail, not when you succeed. Anyone will love you when you succeed. True firneds love you regardless of your failures, stalls, stumbling, fallings or sins. That’s how Jesus has taught me how to love.

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