What blog does not end the year reflecting on the last year and looking forward to the next? And try to make some sense of what has happened?

What has happened in this last year? There were the big events with a new incoming US President, David Bowie died, North Korea launched a long-range rocket into space and conducted numbers of nuclear bomb tests, more suicide bombings than we can count, Prince died, Muhammad Ali died, the UK exited the EU, a solar airplane completed an around the world trip, the Olympics were held in Brazil, and the Cubs won the World Series. Both my sons went college, and Tracy and I became part-time empty nesters. My company made a major acquisition, for which I managed the IT transition. When my office moved, my commute went from 45 minutes one-way to 90 minutes one-way. I rode the Pan Mass Challenge. I vacationed. I binge watched a few series. I read 21 books. All in all, on the macro scale, it was a stressful year, but at the personal, at the this-is-where-I-live level, it was a big year. A challenging year. One with a lot of change.

On the spiritual front — what this blog is about — it was a flat year. I struggled through most of the year to experience a sense of growth. After having a few years of feeling like I had ascended the mountains and experienced the amazing view of life from the peaks, this past year felt like a walk into the valley, and into a desert. In fact, In September, Tracy and I went to Napa Valley for a week, visiting with her sister and brother-in-law. And one day I went for a bike ride, crossing the Napa valley into Suisun Valley where I literally rode through a desert in 105-degree weather. And I thought at the time, this is how I have been feeling.

And so, out of water, and a little lost, I was contemplating just exactly how I was going to get back to my starting point, or if I was going to have call someone to come and pick me up. I mean it was hot. And I was parched. And I had 25 miles still to go, across some steep climbs. Then Pedro’s Cocina, seemingly out of nowhere. After riding for the last 40 minutes hardly seeing any cars, a place to get something to eat? Soda, Gatorade. Food. And a friendly proprietor, with some advice on how to get back to Napa, and encouragement to keep going even though I was out in the middle of the day in such heat.

Keep going? I mean, really? I was the one on the bike. I had the work ahead, at least as far as riding was concerned. This was the desert. This was hard.  But his reasoning was easy, “You have come this far, and it’s beautiful out here.”

That was right.  It was beautiful out there. And it still is.