As efforts to find Donald intensified, Rod felt the urge to join the search, though he didn’t know exactly why. The task was daunting since no one knew Donald’s exact route. Looking for one man within a 250~mile radius~~the approximate miles a Goldwing can go on a tank of gas~~in some of the wildest territory of the country seemed futile.
Rod toyed with the idea for a day or two. Then he packed his old Toyota pickup, laid his mountain bike in the back to assist in such a painstaking endeavor, and headed off~~and found himself welcomed into a group of incredible people, forming significant relationships that otherwise would have been denied him.
A bond was formed with Larry, who hadn’t known Donald either, yet devoted untold hours from his home in New York, organizing the search effort via cell phone and Google Earth maps.
Several law enforcement officers touched Rod’s heart as they gently and attentively supported family and friends alike.
Tom, a DJ and member of the local search and rescue team, shared his technical knowledge while providing Rod with free meals and a place to stay.
Rod grew friendships with other searchers, including Raven, a motorcyclist who came all the way from Tucson to search for this man she likewise didn’t know.
And Rod grew close to members of Donald’s family, particularly his grown son, Noah, and stepson, Justin, as he searched with them for the body of their father. When the news came that, despite hope for another outcome, Donald's lifeless body had been found, Rod bore witness to their grief in ways too numerous and personal to share here.
Donald’s body was discovered near North Fork, Idaho on September 20th by two men who’d stopped to watch a herd of elk. His bike had run off Route 93 at a tricky curve near the Salmon River, just 10 miles from where Rod had searched the previous day.
At the memorial service we attended 2 weeks later, the various strands of Donald’s life intertwined as person after person paid tribute to this unique individual. Rod began to know better the man for whom he had so lovingly searched.
I found a point of connection as well. Recently, I wrote about Centering Prayer, a Christian form of meditation that has become an important part of my spiritual life. Now I learned that Donald had been instrumental in bringing Centering Prayer into the Recovery community, not only in Denver but across the nation. He recognized it as one expression of the 11th Step’s call to “improve our conscious contact with God”, and he enacted his own 12th Step by introducing it to other addicts.
At the reception following the service, Rod was the recipient of love and gratitude by those who cherished Donald. He~~and me, by extension~~ were absorbed into a family we had not known existed a few weeks earlier. Communication has continued since, in online forums, by email and phone, and through Rod spending additional time with Donald’s loved ones, welcomed again into the inner workings of a grieving family.
There is a great sadness that Donald’s life has ended; yet, in death he brought valuable lessons about the power of love and connection, and the importance of acting as we feel called. It certainly would have been easier for Rod to have stayed home. But oh, what he would have missed!
When a prompting arises from a deep place and just feels right, we need to respond. It doesn’t matter if the cause seems hopeless or its outcome not as we would like. We act anyway~~doing simply what’s ours to do~~and trust that, though the results may not be known to us, something good will come.
I wish you each a wonderful few weeks acting as you feel called.