Saturday, September 26, 2009

faith greater than pain

only in utah.
this is the first thing I thought.
I usually reserve that comment for ridiculously strait-laced, bigoted legislators and absurd liquor laws, but this morning's vision caused the phrase to emblazon itself across my mind,
only in utah.

however, I was wrong.

not only in utah, but in iowa, nebraska, and wyoming as well. throughout those states tens of thousands of people have seen during the past few months what I saw this morning: a tall, bearded man wearing clothes more common during the 19th century than now pulling a hand cart, a woman in pioneer garb by his side.
since June 9 of this year, Doc Cleland has been walking, pulling his handcart, on a trek reenacting what the Mormon pioneers did in the 1850's. a 1400 mile trek, sleeping in an 1850's tent and eating what the pioneers ate: no bike, no GUs, no power bars or gatorade, no soft hotel beds, no massages, no ipod.

today was the end of his trek, and I saw him about 8 miles from the end, and then again less than 3 miles from his destination, the This is the Place monument.
what an honor for me. he smiled and responded "hello" to my cheery hi!, and I had absolutely no idea what a remarkable man I had just passed.

a camera truck was following him, and it wasn't until I came upon them again on my way down the canyon that I could see and read the large sticker on the rear of the truck, which read, faith greater than
faith greater than pain: I liked that.
I liked that a lot.
because it offers a fairly accurate description of how so many of us survive our undertakings: our faith is much stronger than the pain we endure. we believe that we will survive; we have faith that something greater than ourselves will pull us through whatever is placed, rolled, or thrown in our paths.
his faith may have a different cloak than my faith, and they may be of contrasting colors and opposing shapes, but both of our faiths are huge and unshakable, and have carried us through times of anguish and hurt and doubt. they are more alike than dissimilar, and not only are they huge and unshakable, they are ethereal and irrepressible.
his drove him to walk 1400 miles; mine drives me to ride until my heart wants to shatter and love regardless of outcome and spread seeds of gratitude throughout the world and write until I find a way to convey my faith in the glorious abundance of our universe and bring loving light to every dim and dark shadowy corner that tries to hide pain.

because faith will outlast pain when we give it the opportunity.

just ask doc.


Doc said...

When I started out on June 9th, the first day of my 110 day trek pulling a 217 pound handcart, I had three reasons or goals in mind; first, to honor my grandmother of 1856 whose faith was what has inspired me to begin this journey. Second, was to experience as many of the trials and trauma that they went through and still try and keep my life in the process. Well I got my wish as I endured an F1 tornado in Iowa at 2:15 AM and also spent 5 days in the hospital in Scottsbluff for a staff infection. And third, I wanted to walk with one of every religion as I sojourned across the trail to try and spread some tolerance and unity amongst those that I met. 90% of us believe in God but it seems like we have less and less tolerance for each other nowadays. But as enriching as these reasons were when I started, the greatest concealed blessing was being able to meet all of the wonderful people across America on the back roads and highways. These great people were in every small town and every trail that I walked. It renewed my confidence in humanity and gave me a sense of assurance that as tough as times might be, the core values of this country are still in good hands.
My slogan, “Faith Greater Than Pain” was inspired by the handcart pioneers, but it took on a much broader and intimate meaning when I would meet people that saw the saying and it would bring an emotional moment to them as they would tell me that their 25 year old son had just died two weeks before our meeting, or the gentleman that I met who was traveling to the hospital to spend the last moments with his dying wife and “Faith Greater Than Pain” brought an entirely different meaning to him.
I suffered greatly in those 110 days, amongst other things, I also lost 48 pounds and was on the verge of liver and gall bladder failure due to the lack of protein and all of this just as I turned 60 years old, but I couldn’t be more honored to have walked those footsteps and met the heart of America and been inspired by the spirit of those pioneers
Its comments like yours that made the trip worthwhile and I couldn't have said it more eloquently than the kind words that you have expressed. If anyone is interested, my moments are covered a little more in depth at:

"Doc" Cleland

DLMiller said...

We celebrated our eldest’s birthday last night. Twenty-nine years ago she was born, struggling from the womb. This morning, I experienced my own struggle to rebirth of sorts. The mattress seemed bent on ejecting me, and dreams too conspired to expel me out. And so I arose ... to read this! And then to run again. But for a different purpose. Always before it has been mixed with competition, like the stereo-typical “male ego” Susan describes. This morning, my return to running was – to be me – and to be God’s expression – without concern about how others perceive me. Without care of winning and beating another. Just to run. Just to be. And so I determined to finally sign up for my first marathon. I haven’t run now for months – but I will begin anew – a reborn different kind of runner. I may not even run the Ogden Marathon I am going to sign up for, but at least I will sign up and train for it. To be ready if God wills. Thanks Susan – your little blog was a small part of that. And thanks, Lynn, for letting spend a day pulling with you in Wyoming. Lots I could share with each of you two stranger friends. Best to you both. David

susan said...

Doc and David:
I am deeply honored by both of your comments. it amazes me how disparate "strangers" can connect and share moments of validation and empathy in this way . . . thank you for reaching out this way.
Doc, I wish you continuing recovery and a wealth of spiritual and interpersonal gifts from your trek.
and David, I love your "new" philosophy and wish you peaceful, pain-free hours of training in this beautiful place.
love and light,

susan said...

what I should have said was that I wish you hours of injury-free training and a minimal pain during your experience!

Doc said...

Susan... can you contact me, I would like to have a conversation with you if possible.