By Clyde Bruffee Hager
The year is 1982. The place is the beautiful rolling hills of Happy Valley in central Pennsylvania. I’m riding home on my motorcycle Blue, a Yamaha 400. Home is an old Airstream trailer in a campground near Interstate 80. I was downtown having my usual, a veggie calzone and a pitcher of beer. I take a new route home this time, a long two-lane road that winds through a forest. It’s a clear dark night with a quarter moon. There is nobody else on this narrow road but me.
On a straight stretch, I speed up. The Pennsylvania summer night air feels great. There is just enough light in the sky to see the treetops that surround the road on all sides, but the forest is dark. The headlight on Blue is woefully inadequate, but I don’t care. I ignore the speed limit signs. Why the ‘devil-may-care’ attitude? It is soon after my second divorce and, like a lot of people, I don’t care if I live or die. Have you ever felt that way?
I was thinking about what a fool I was. I never wanted to marry anybody. But ten years earlier, the girl who became my first wife got pregnant while I was coming down from an LSD trip. The second wife convinced me to divorce the first and after I did, she threatened suicide if I didn’t let her come live with me. I bought the lie.
After five years, I left my second wife, just walked out. Like the fool that I am, I soon got involved with another woman who told me she was divorced. Within two weeks I encountered her husband who threatened to kill me. To my face! What the heck was wrong with me? Certainly a poor judge of character. But it was one foolish relationship after another.
I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just knew I needed to get away from it all. By luck, I discovered the world of contracting. There were short term contract jobs all over the world. I threw my resume to the wind. Within weeks, a job came open in Alabama. I bought a used Airstream trailer and left.
It was the first time in my life that I had ever lived alone. There were no distractions. No TV, just music and books. Now, alone, I had to ask myself, “Why do I keep making these huge mistakes when it comes to relationships? I’m a smart guy, an engineer, so why am I so stupid?”
I was always interested in finding God. Do you know the words, ‘omniscient’, ‘omnipresent’, and ‘omnipotent’? God is all-knowing, present everywhere, and all-powerful. I knew that in preschool. You could say I had a strong attraction to these things, a curiosity, a wonder.
I went to church, but God never spoke to me there.
As a freshman in college in 1967, I saw the movie, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”. Timothy Leary told me that I could find God through LSD. I tried it. I tried some other drugs too. No God.
After college, I learned Transcendental Meditation or TM. All you do is sit and repeat a mantra for 20 minutes twice a day and you will find Cosmic Consciousness, another name for God. After 7 years, I still hadn’t found it.
The first day on the job in Alabama, I learned that I was working on the MX Missile, the one that President Reagan called the Peacemaker. I didn’t want that karma. Again, I threw my resume to the wind. Before I left, I threw the I Ching for the first time ever. I sat alone in my Airstream trailer and meditated on this question, “What is going on in my life right now?” Spirits guided the coins to hexagram 56, “ The Wanderer”. It said, “Life has its ups and downs, but you will move on.” Of the 64 possible hexagrams, that was the perfect one. Wow! I just contacted the spirit world.
I fasted and I meditated. Some of my meditations were profound. Sometimes, a presence would envelope me and my mind seemed to expand to infinity. But, there was a problem. One day I’m feeling the presence of the Christ spirit and the next day I go out drinking to dull the pain. I was a combination of spiritual awakening and self-flagellation.
Waking up spiritually was all new to me. There was no road map. I read a lot of books about spirituality, enlightenment, angels, and spirit guides. I learned that you are not your physical body. You are a vortex of intelligence that inhabits the body from birth to death.
After four weeks in Alabama, I hitched my Airstream and towed it to Pennsylvania. I studied yoga and did more fasting. Meditation expanded my sense of connection to all of life, becoming one with everything. At the end of one 3-day fast, the inside of my Airstream trailer lit up with light. I became insignificant, absorbed into the light. It was profound. I loved my new life, but every few days, I would go downtown and drink too much.
And that brings us back to that summer night after a pitcher of beer on a narrow, winding, two-lane road going too fast on my motorcycle named Blue. All of a sudden, the headlight beam stops showing the road ahead, only trees. I let go of the throttle and clench the hand brakes. Where is the road? Does it go left or right? Am I going to wrap myself around a tree? Which way do I turn?
That’s when I feel two hands, one on each shoulder, gently but firmly lean me to the left and then straighten me out again. I am right in the center of my lane on that narrow two-lane road. I drove by the next day to verify that the right turn had nothing but trees.
The message I got was this, “You were saved for a reason. Your life has a purpose, so act like it.”
My motorcycle’s name was Blue. I felt an angel that night. Peace.