God Glows Between the Shack and the Outhouse
Updated: Apr 15
Pedaling On Purpose is a book title for the Trans America adventure, but the name for this article came to mind that summarizes the journey. In the numerous places visited, a full range of accommodations and environments arose. Luxurious and expensive, clean and comfortable and free, to dusty and smelly and uncomfortable. The reason for choosing any of these places comes down to basics – shelter and personal needs, but special things happen in that mix.
Regardless of the level of cleanliness (or lack thereof), dryness, or temperature, basic shelter and personal needs are the goal. Accommodating the team for the various challenges presented by the trip to finish another day must happen. In desolate areas of the northwest, multiple choices are not available so the standards come down. When things get scarce, as the saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosie!”
Guffey is one of those remote towns of Colorado with a place to stay after 90 miles of cycling. The owner of a segment of land in Guffey is Bill. Truly unique with a junkyard of cars from the 50s and 60s with a few that surprisingly had engines that ran. A few older buildings, one the team affectionately referred to as the shack was the refuge for the night out of the cold. Bill had been accommodating cyclers since 1976 when the first group of Trans America cyclers passed through.
The shack represents on one hand, a place of refuge out of the wet and cold. On the other hand it is not pretty, comfortable, or clean. The shack is not a place designed for long-term stays. Lacking electricity, heat, and water travelers come in, get basic needs met, and move on.
Antique car / outhouse decor – fashionable, yet functional
When the “Beggars can’t be choosie,” saying applies, an outhouse is a wonderful thing. The outhouse for the shack is similar in that the shorter amount of time there, the better. A place out of the weather, with the essential TP, get in and get out with the basic need met.
The problem with fancy accommodations is just that. Comfort makes a longer stay more desirable. The luxury still only meets basic needs, but the mission at hand, completing the Trans American journey, gets fuzzy. Leaving means hardship and more challenges.
What really makes the shack and outhouse worth it is in between on that short walk. Remote areas are usually dark, quiet, with folks in bed early. Street lights, cars zooming, restaurants and bars booming create a populated lit up town, loud noise, and late night action. One environment is not good to see the stars while the other increases the odds dramatically. Crowded, busy cities not good. Wilderness and small town America very good.
Many people question why anyone goes through the hardship of being in the wilderness when wonderful hotels exist. A huge and very memorable reason is God Glows here. In the middle of the night personally having to crawl out of a high bunk with a low ceiling without a ladder made the uncomfortable accommodations more uncomfortable. Add to that, this was to go to another even more uncomfortable outhouse out of necessity to get basic needs met. Ah, but here is the beauty not possible in the comfortable confines of a luxury suite.
Chair below the top bunk really shaky!😄
The walk in-between the shack and the outhouse included a look up at the sky. The clear sky full of stars included the longest stretch of the Milky Way ever seen by this guy. God glowed that night. The miraculous never comes into view in the fancy hotel. An indelible memory imprint for the rest of life has no chance to manifest itself.
The apostle Paul 2000 years ago made a statement that sums up this Guffey scenario, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV
Yes, “saw” the Milky Way, but not even close to what remained unseen. The magnificence of that clear and dark night sky had a practical aspect to it. The starship Enterprise and captain Kirk may one day explore it. A key note is that an eternal significance exists as well. The sense of awe and the enormity of it in comparison to the earth and temporal humanity is humbling.
Any great adventure like the pedaling on purpose story applies to stretching people out of the secure and safe world into the risky and uncomfortable one. Bill prays for cyclists that face many perils. That helps get back home to a warm house and bed with home cooked meals and a much needed recovery. The pivot point back to adventure depends on how much of “God’s glow” a person wants.
Bill on far right. A bearded Jack fit right in with Ted & Bill!
More often than not, people opt for easy. Do not go on any worthwhile adventure expecting “easy” the whole time. Adventure is not a vacation. Too much “easy” and a distorted perspective arises. The “basic necessities” that are too comfortable then block that in-between glow that is so magnificent.
Instead of “fitting in” an adventure to life, why not flip that perspective. The “recovery” at home with a daily routine is necessary, but blink an eye and there is no memory of what happened most of the past ten, five, or even previous years that vividly comes to mind. Unless a knock to the head causes amnesia, the Trans America Adventure and the Milky Way God glow are always there. Center life around eternally significant adventures and a deep sense of purpose reinforces the fact there is a reason everyone exists.
Everyone has a purpose and gifts to fulfill that purpose. Fulfilling personal purpose is a life-long adventure filled with challenges and hardships. Consistently making that decision is hard because it inevitably requires many shacks and outhouses along the way. Opting for the easy or a life-long memory? The TA Team chose to pedal on purpose. Go for the flow of God’s glow. You can too!