For what indeed is home? Whether it’s blood relations, a circle of friends or a class full of kids, home is the experience of loving and being loved. Such was my day.
I got home from B.C. at midnight and proceeded to sleep for ten hours. I woke up knowing that Jayne, the Grade 5/6 teacher with whom I volunteer, had invited me to the class’ potluck lunch and the school play day all afternoon.
A tiny part of me wanted to hide out, safe under the covers, but I love those kids, so tiny did not defeat huge. My car Scarlet and I drove to the school. As I pulled into the driveway, three or four kids were bouncing up and down and waving. Oh my. I’ve had horror stories in my head about the kids being distant because I didn’t complete my ride across Canada. What a silly head I sometimes have. When I think deeper, I see that children “see” me. They know my heart is pure. And usually their hearts respond in kind.
I went in the front door of the school to sign in. There was some kerfuffle in the hall but I blocked it out. As I walked out of the office, the whole class surrounded me, smiling and yelling something. Jayne rushed forward to hug me. I was being held. I tried holding the tears back but I was deeply touched by their love. I felt electricity smash through me and it all seemed headed to my right hand. It started shaking and appeared to have no interest in stopping.
Back to the Grade 5/6 portable for the communal eats. My head was reeling, thoughts were jumbled, and I even struggled to get the meatballs on my plate. I was invited to sit with a group of girls and happily obliged. My eyes moistened again and again. I stuttered. I knew I was surrounded by love but the fear of my bicycle days had not disappeared. The hand continued to shake. One girl reached out and put her hand over mine, trying to still the unruly beast. What a sweet thing to do. When she lifted her hand, mine went vibrating again. Later another girl did the same, with the same results. I guess my body has things to do. There must be a natural rhythm that can’t be rushed.
There was a sign on the board welcoming me home. Little hearts adorned some of the names. Some kids came up to say they were proud of me. I walked around stunned, feeling disoriented, embarrassed at the result I’d produced, sad at the loss of a dream, and scared still about nearby semitrailers whizzing past.
After eating was done, I was going to take something to the office for Jayne but she asked me to stay in the portable. We had a fine talk. She’s such a marvelous support for me, and I hope I am for her. After a bit, she held out a red “Canada” t-shirt and asked me to put it on. “Jayne, did you buy me this shirt?” She smiled, and I’d guess the answer was “Yes”.
The dear teacher then led me out of the portable. I glanced towards the back corner of the school and saw a Grade 5 girl and some young kids standing there. They seemed to be saying something. As I got closer, I made out “Mr. Kerr! Mr. Kerr!” Sure seemed to be a loud chant for a few kids. As I rounded the corner, spread before me in a long line were all 230 children and all the staff members. The first group held up a sign with the flag of British Columbia. Then it was Alberta … Saskatchewan … “My God!” I thought. “I’m crossing Canada.” Oh … I was being held in the arms of love. I have failed as a cyclist able to cross my country and I have succeeded as a human being.
A teacher gave me a bullhorn and I told them all that I loved them, and I do. I haven’t talked to every one but I know their hearts. Those vital organs were on full display along the length of the school.
Blessings show up unbidden
We see each other
All is well
4 thoughts on “Homecoming”
Oh my, today’s homecoming story brought tears to my eyes, you truly did go across the country with nothing but love in your heart today! that is a lucky and loved fellow! life has a way of making things happen, and things happen the way they need to sometimes. well earned my friend! that is a beautiful story. what an amazing group of kids you hang out with! imagine their lives, so much better for having you in it! love this story
You’re very kind, Donna. Yes, kids’ lives are better for having me in them. And I’m immensely blessed when they choose to travel beside me.
You did not fail as a cyclist crossing Canada. Failure would be not starting, no effort put forth to reach a goal. You committed, and started. That took courage. You fell down again and again and still got back up and tried, again and again. Whether you finish cycling across Canada or not is up to you. We all start things and don’t complete things. That doesn’t make us failures. Life gets in the way sometimes. Riding a bike across Canada is not the be all to end all. Your connection with LIFE is those kids, man. I don’t envy you-BUT it’s something that I don’t have, and will never have. But you do, and that’s pretty cool. Your ride of a lifetime is those kids. I’d say you have a successful ride under your belt. Well done, brother! Nice job.
Thank you for your uplifting words, John. You are my brother. I’ll let go of the word “fail”. It serves no purpose. If I’m to continue contributing to the lives of people, young and old, I can’t afford to carry around the baggage of self-diminishment. There are many more kids to brighten.
I hope you’re having brilliant adventures on Tour Arctic. The northern ocean awaits.