Will Streeter was a big, humble, thoughtful guy. One time I asked him what kind of mountain bike rides he liked. He replied, deadpan, "Gnarly," followed by his disarming "heh, heh." Serious and funny at the same time.
He liked this long, rolling Indiana ride and had two sons who were scheduled to ride it with him this summer. I flew in from the desert Southwest to join this ride honoring a man I admired. My job was to help them finish the long ride and maybe to learn something along the way.
Will knew pain. He had lost an eye to melanoma a year before. His father had left him early in life. But he had found a way to cope. Richard Rohr, a friend and mentor, had taught Will that pain can be transformed, can be transmuted. It does not have to ruin a life. It is not something to fear, but something to meet and embrace. Will told me that Rohr felt that if one's spiritual teacher did not speak often of death, it was time to fire your spiritual teacher.
Will did not run away from hard questions. He had met his death head-on. And he loved to ride, and had spoken of this ride often as we rolled over the roads and trails around Tucson.
About twenty miles in, Kathe, Will's wife, hit some sand and went down. In spite of a nasty bruise, she hopped back up to examine her bike. "Is my bike OK?" she asked before examining her injury. Bike first, then body. What a statement of how important this ride was to her. Strong woman I thought. Like Will.
The ride progressed as all rides do and priorities took the shape of speed and distance.
He thought hard and liked dark beer. What’s not to like about such a combination of traits?
Will would know. Will was free of such easy answers. He would understand why my heart was so full.