Prayer of Thanks after Safe Journey

Timeglass Journal

Jim Lantern in Reno Nevada

10:30 a.m. Pacific Time – Saturday 9 May 2015

Prayer of Thanks after Safe Journey

O gracious God, heavenly Father, I render thanks to Thee from my inmost heart that Thou hast granted me a safe journey.  It is due to Thy fatherly care that I have been preserved from all harm, that I have not been killed by robbers or wild animals nor have perished or suffered injury in floods or other dangers.  Protected by Thy holy angels, I have traveled in safety to my journey’s end. For all this I owe thanks to Thy fatherly care and almighty protection, and I heartily pray Thee that Thou wouldst also in future graciously extend to me Thine almighty protection and sustain body and soul by Thy power unto life eternal; for Christ Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

~ The above is not an exact quote from the source and unidentified original author. I edited it to fit the fact that it is a one-way journey for me and did not include any family.

History is full of people who have survived journeys over great distances, arrived safely, and then gave thanks to God or in ancient times and other lands whatever gods the people there gave thanks to, prayed to, and worshiped. Of course, the best known to Americans is the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Although not all arrived safely and in good health, those who did gave thanks. “In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. Several days of Thanksgiving were held in early New England history that have been identified as the First Thanksgiving, including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.” – Wikipedia.

I’m a bit late getting to this special posting about prayers and giving thanks. I had intended to do so sooner than this, soon after completing my journey – having arrived in Reno Nevada night of Monday 4 May 2015.

I finally did a Google Search for prayers for travelers and for giving thanks upon completing a journey. Readers here at Timeglass Journal are welcome to use Comments/Feedback under this posting to present their own versions or a favorite from another source.

I must also include the following lines from Amazing Grace lyrics by John Newton…

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

In my case, it’s been a long journey to a new home. Although not to another planet, some of the land I viewed along the way is so different from where I’ve lived that has been like crossing the land on another planet. Even so, here is part of the dialog quoted from near the ending of the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind

And lead us along your paths.
God has given you his angels charge over you.
Grant these pilgrims, we pray, a happy journey
and peaceful days, so that with your holy angel as a guide
they may safely reach their destination.

As the Greyhound Bus I was on went past Elk Mountain in Wyoming, there was a massive thunderhead of a thunderstorm hanging over it. Some open air space between the dark flat underside of the storm cloud and the top of the mountain. Along and on the top surface of the mountain was a pure white cloud, almost like ground fog. It was in the shape of a massive arm from elbow to hand, with the fingers of the hand hanging down the side of the mountain. It looked as if the hand of God had reached down to grip the mountain. I did not have a camera to capture the image of it, and apparently neither did any other travelers. However, here’s an image from Google Images Search of about the same view I had from the bus, looking west from highway I-80.

ElkMountain

My journey from Norman Oklahoma to Reno Nevada went through Dallas Texas – first layover transfer, where at the Greyhound Bus station restaurant I had the best bacon cheeseburger I’ve ever had in 59 years (born 5 March 1956). If you want real beef – I mean beef that tastes the way it should taste – get it in Dallas. Texas has the best beef on Earth.

By the way, the amazing and bizarre architecture and its diversity in the downtown Dallas area is stunning – it looks like something out of the far future – like something out of a science fiction movie – as if it is 100 years more advanced than other cities today. Very beautiful. I lived and worked in Dallas during 1989. It didn’t look like that back then. So much has changed during the 26 years since then. I wanted to stay there, but the cost of living is far beyond anything I can now afford. The place where I lived there during 1989 has been razed and replaced with much more expensive housing for higher income people. The same has been happening in other cities all across the country – the ongoing loss of affordable housing for low-wage and part-time workers, as well as some retired seniors and people barely surviving on Social Security disability benefits.

As for the journey itself, the bus was late picking me up at Norman, and late getting into Dallas – with just a half hour before the transfer to another bus for the next part of the journey route. New highway construction on I-35 just north of Dallas was part of the problem, nearly bringing traffic to a standstill. I don’t know what caused the bus to be late getting into Norman, but the driver was a new driver in training by another driver.

The bus had to be serviced in Amarillo Texas during the layover there. The same bus was returned after being cleaned and refueled. It came back with a new driver, who had no experience driving the route from Dallas Texas to Denver Colorado. She managed to get us lost under a full moon (2:00 a.m. Central Time Zone to sunrise somewhere in the Mountain Time Zone of Sunday May 3, 2015, putting us about 2 hours behind schedule. Even so, the bus we were to transfer to in Denver was 3 hours behind schedule getting into Denver, so we didn’t miss it. Traffic was bad getting into Denver, like it was for Dallas, but for a different reason. For Dallas it was new construction and repairs of I-35. For Denver the traffic jam on the highways into, out of, and around Denver is because of too many cars and not enough road.

The bus departed Denver 3 hours late. Impossible to make up the time, it was 3 hours late getting into Salt Lake City Utah. Therefore, other travelers and I missed the transfer to the bus going to Reno Nevada. Some of the others were going on to Sacramento California. Rather than to make us wait 9 hours in the Salt Lake City station, Greyhound paid for us to stay at a nearby EconoLodge, and paid for the shuttle between the station and the motel. Free coffee and donuts at the EconoLodge in the morning, and then a free shuttle back to the station. The Reno bus leaves Salt Lake City every 12 hours – about 11:50 p.m. and 11:50 a.m. Mountain Time. So my arrival at Reno was 12 hours late – to get here about 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time instead of about 8:00 a.m. Monday May 4th.

I was shocked to see an excessive number of prostitutes living at the EconoLodge and blatantly working the area between the motel and the Greyhound bus station, as if it were legal in Salt Lake City – capital of the Mormons and of Utah.

I nearly died at the EconoLodge in Salt Lake City. A stomach ulcer started bleeding. I was able to stop it with milk, which aids healing and knocks down pain. It was the worst I felt during the journey.

The Greyhound station in Salt Lake City is the only station on my journey where there was airport-like security with passengers being scanned by a hand wand, and luggage searched for any banned or illegal items.

The final route of the journey, from Salt Lake City to Reno, was without any noticeable problems. Except for the beautifully stunning scenic route through Colorado and Wyoming, the Salt Lake City to Reno route was the best route of the journey. A good Greyhound bus driver, too, who had a great sense of humor.

Upon arrival, I was so tired that I took a taxicab for $10 including tip for the one mile trip to the motel where I now live – a motel managed more like monthly rent furnished studio apartments. I had intended to walk the mile, but I didn’t have the strength to carry my shoulder-strap travel bag and pull my suitcase along on its two tiny wheels. It was only 15 pounds in the bag, and 35 pounds in the suitcase, a total of 50 pounds – but felt like 100 pounds in my weak condition. Apparently, I caught a bug during the journey, with symptoms getting worse until yesterday – Friday May 8th. Chills, low fever, sore throat, flu symptoms, and head cold symptoms. I feel fully recovered now. I might have caught it at the final rest stop, which was at Battle Mountain Nevada, where I got a single slice of pizza at a combination restaurant and convenience store. I’m still fighting occasional stomach ulcer pains, but at least no bleeding now, and my strength is finally returning.

The sun had set just before my arrival here in Reno. The area of downtown Reno the taxicab driver took me through on my way to my new home was lit up with colorful lights like Las Vegas. In that way, Reno may be described as being beautiful at night. My opinion, it becomes an ugly city after the sun comes up. Some people (not me of course) might compare it to meeting an attractive person at night while slightly drunk, and then awakening next to an ugly monster in the morning. Even so, make no mistake about it – there are as many monsters here at night as there are during the day – although different kinds at night compared to those during the day.

As I was checking in with my new landlord, I noticed Reno police swarming the area and making use of their K-9 Unit dogs. Then, after unpacking, the manager directed me to a nearby market, where I bought a gallon of milk to treat my stomach ulcer. I was approached by a gang, clearly with intent to attack and rob me – but suddenly their leader said “Not him.” – Then they turned away and headed down an alley.

Even after all the research I did via Google Search and Internet, Reno is not what I expected. I can’t report it is better than expected. In some ways, “out of the frying pan and into the fire” would be a fitting old quote to describe it. For me, it will not be easy to survive here, but I will survive. If I had stayed in Norman Oklahoma, then I’d have become out-on-the-street homeless and died there by end of the first week of June 2015. The loss of affordable housing in most cities across the United States is now the number one cause of homelessness. There’s a different reason for it in Reno. Likely to be the same reason in Las Vegas. Homeless gamblers. People with gambling addiction, who have lost everything and have become out-on-the-street homeless. I never imagined that sickness to be as bad as it is here. I’ve seen hundreds of homeless here. I’ve seen them acquire money, and then blow it on slot machines, rather than food and basic needs or to try to get their lives back. Nearly every business here – mainly stores – not just the excessive number of casinos – contribute to the problem by having slot machines and other gambling machines. That includes the 7-Eleven store I go to, which has slot machines along one whole wall. Some hotels and motels here offer low rates so that guests will have more money to gamble with rather than to spend on rent.

I now live at a motel managed like studio apartments. Fully furnished kitchenettes, like a motel room, but also with a microwave oven and a full size refrigerator. $575 monthly rent includes all utilities, cable TV with HBO, and free Wi-Fi service. Coin-op washer and dryer here for tenants. There is a $75 one-time cleaning deposit for when I move out. So I paid $650 move-in, will pay $575 on the 3rd of every month when I get direct deposit of my Social Security disability benefits into my bank account.

I found out about the place from a USA Today journalist and article. Then I got to know the manager via Facebook, who is a Conservative in politics, and is about same age as me. Security is good here on the property of the motel. It is fenced in. The manager wears a gun. He and his wife have dogs. The Reno police station is just a few blocks away, which happens to be on my way when walking to the nearest 7-Eleven.

The 7-Eleven store is key to my survival here, as well as the low rent. It is the nearest store – about a 20 to 30 minutes walk, which has affordable food and general supplies – almost as low in price as normal big grocery stores. The nearest grocery stores – Safeway, Save Mart, and Walmart – are about 3 to 5 miles to the west of where I live – so I’ll have to make use of the city bus system to go to those locations. Good news about that – the new city bus terminal is just one block from my home. The cost is $2 to get to those stores, $2 to return. I figure a taxicab would cost at least $20 each way.

The motel I’m living at is slightly older and more run down than I expected it to be, but not bad for the $575 low monthly rent. Best of all, however, the bed’s mattress is new and very comfortable. Sheets, blankets, cover, and the pillows are new too. Likewise new towels in the bathroom. Excellent shower – strong stream – helps to knock down my back pain while getting me clean. The gas heat is now off for the season, but the nights are still cold, so the manager’s wife (who also manages the place) loaned me a small personal electric heater. The manager and his wife have been very friendly and helpful. Excellent service.

So far, the manager and his wife are the only people I know by name here. About 26 kitchenettes here – I’ve not yet met and talked to any neighbors – most appear to be long-tenants like me. Hard to socialize while in bad health, barely surviving on disability benefits, and not having a car. I’m no longer a night person. I’m more of a morning person – starting my days early. My routine is to get needed things done early, and then have the rest of the day to relax. I have adjusted to the Pacific Time Zone from the Central Time Zone.

I checked WordPress Stats, and especially the more detailed StatCounter I use with WordPress. I’d not noticed it before. I’ve had readers in all US states except Nevada, where I now live. Apparently, no one in Nevada has ever visited my WordPress sites. I don’t know why that is. I must look into it, determine why, and try to fix it. The manager here is my only follower at Facebook who lives here in Reno. I have gained a few followers at Twitter who are in Reno or Las Vegas, but most of them are businesses – not individuals who could become local new friends.

The apartments complex where I lived in Norman Oklahoma was sold, and scheduled to be bulldozed in August 2015 to make way for a new and higher rent apartment building. The loss of affordable housing in Norman forced me to look to other cities in Oklahoma and then to other states. There is also the new rule in many cities where tenants are now required to have a minimum net monthly income of at least 3 times the rent. So for example a $500 per month apartment requires a minimum net income of $1500 per month – much more than what I get per month in Social Security disability benefits.

The need to move came at a time when my physical health has been much worse than usual. I could have died there in Norman Oklahoma or on the journey from a bleeding stomach ulcer. What I didn’t know, until now, is that I was already dying in a much different way . . . spiritually – heart, mind, and soul. I’d lived there exactly 7 years to the day – from Saturday 3 May 2008 to Saturday 2 May 2015. I had stability in my life, but as stagnation. It’s not easy starting over somewhere else at age 59 (as of 5 March 2015). Even so, I’m reminded of a movie quote – Dune (1984) Duke Leto Atreides: “I’ll miss the sea, but a person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing him to grow. Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”

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