Did you read stories about knights errant when you were a child? I’m assuming, of course, that you are of an age when children read books. Anyway, knights errant were always off on a quest for a Holy Grail or something equally illusory. There were many adventures along the way, but, as I recall, the grail (or whatever) was never found.
My friend David is a knight errant, not so much like Sir Gawain or Sir Lancelot, more like Don Quixote without Pancho to help him along. His quests have taken him to many places around the globe. None has ever ended where he had hoped it might. His Holy Grail has always been somewhere else. Now he’s off on another, and it could be his last. David is no longer young. In his late sixties, he’s on a number of medications to even out his mood swigs, has endured several surgeries, is prone to injuries and minor illnesses, and has an extremely limited income. None of that matters. He could not be dissuaded, and many of us tried.
The last time he took off, it was to Sitka where he had heard that life was good, jobs were easy to find, and the local Episcopal Church would surely help him out. He sold his belongings, or gave them away, got his camping gear together, hopped on his bicycle, and left. He made it, which was a surprise to us all. But it was only to discover that Sitka was not the promised land after all. There were no jobs. The weather wasn’t great. The local Episcopal Church could not help. With a little help from his friends, he came home to once more resume life in the rural west. Home lasted about three years this time. This morning he left again. He had heard, and is certain, that Maine is the place to be. That’s where everything will work out. He’ll work in a boat yard and live comfortably. Everyone will be friendly. Life will be good. It’s a long way to ride a bicycle, so he has a plan for hopping freights, staying with old friends he hasn’t heard from in years, and maybe wintering in St. Paul before moving on.
He’s got several of my cards. I hope he doesn’t lose them. He knows that his airfare will be paid for if something happens and he needs to come home. What could possibly go wrong for an old man of unstable physical and mental health riding a bicycle from rural Washington to Maine starting off as fall begins to settle in? Our tiny little elderly congregation will hold him in prayer, and trust that he will return to us once again, no wiser to be sure, but with stories to tell. Once again he will be the best reader of lessons on Sunday morning, help clean the church, sing along in his rich bass voice, visit people in the nursing home, and argue with me, from his fundamentalist origins, that I have it all wrong. Or maybe he won’t.
If you see David, he’s not an old dirty homeless crazy person. He’s our friend, neighbor, brother in Christ, and he’s on a quest for something he will never find, at least not in this life, but that won’t stop him from searching for it.