Pilgrim Cafe

Continuing Conversations on the Human Spirit

Resistance, Human


Innate in the human spirit, our ability to resist protects us from the on rush of change. We push back in order to give ourselves time to embrace change and it’s meaning for our lives and way of life. The strong encouragement, by health officials, to wear facemasks, in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic has been met with a noticeable degree of resistance disbelieving citizens. The attached CNN article on the psychological roots of such resistance is helpful.

The psychology behind why some people won’t wear masks – CNN

Adults usually bristle if forced to comply with regulations for which they see no immediate need. Especially in the West, the concept of personal liberty is as prized as life itself. Rationalization, avoidance, and resistance to overstepping authority pushes back on those charged with encouraging compliance. The current confusion generated by the fear of gullibility to so-called “Fake News” undermines the credibility of even legitimate health warnings and reports.

Thoughts of weakness, loss, and fear are not comfortable to most apparently healthy persons in our society. Therefore precautions, that emphasize these unwelcome qualities, are instinctively resisted. Even contemplating the personal threat of unseen susceptibility is not compelling enough to break through barriers of resistance. If it is not immediately ravaging our neighborhood, friends, and families we find a way to doubt that what is reported can affect us.

While mask-wearing is strongly recommended by health and state officials, it is not generally mandatory (carrying the force of law) in most public places. The option to ignore “official recommendation” is chosen. Shoppers, passengers, participants in public events generally relish the personal freedom to choose, even though compliance has long been practiced, in many places throughout our culture. Theatres, worship services, sporting events, dining out, driving personal vehicles, and attending learning events generally require certain degrees of compliance and uniformity to improve the quality of the event and safety for all involved. We accept most of these without question.

We do not bristle with requirements to don masks or gloves, even gowns while visiting friends in hospital rooms or quarantine. We accept those measures as specific to the setting and necessary to maintain a safe environment. Many medical offices have long encouraged the use of masks for patients exhibiting symptoms without general resistance. We wear 1masks to protect newborns without a thought of it curtailing our own sense of freedom or personal Constitutional rights. We simply comply.

Public transit drivers have become extensions of local public health officials. Drivers have been asked to encourage riders to wear masks when they ride, thus they have begun to experience noticeable resistance. Drivers are discovering that the added responsibility of regularly reminding passengers to comply adds to the general fatigue of the job. As a result, drivers are becoming more creative in confronting this natural resistance.

Modelling Preferred Behavior

Drivers lead the change in behavior by wearing facemasks when they first come to work. Public life has changed for the unforeseeable future. Maintaining a Social Distance of 6’ or more from other individuals, washing hands properly, and minimizing the risks, encountered in public travel. Drivers are aware and vigilant throughout their shifts: “Please use the hand cleaner after picking up that piece of paper from the floor.” “Please stand back, sir, remember to maintain social distance.”

The Indirect Approach

Most persons would rather come than go, they would rather follow than be pushed. For this reason, drivers are attempting to encourage rather than demand. They are complimenting passengers who are wearing masks and maintaining social distance, “Thanks for protecting others by wearing a facemask!” a driver may say. Drivers will attempt not to make a spectacle of one person’s behavior. They will often wait for non-masked passengers to settle in with others before making a general announcement, “Just a reminder folks, (notice not ord000er or demand) we are all asked to wear face masks (we are in this together) when we board the buses. The pandemic is NOT over. Please bring yours upon return.”

Recognize preferred behavior

We all prefer reminders of success to goads focusing on failure, we prefer reminders of our common hope to warnings of general disability. As a result, drivers constantly look for ways to encourage desired behavior in passengers without threatening or cajoling: “Way to go with that face mask, Joe. Thanks for protecting others.” Treating the reminder playfully invites others to play along: “So folks, the face mask of the day displayed the message, ‘BE PART OF THE ANSWER.’ Remember, face masks protect ourselves and others from an unseen risk.”

Care rather than criticism

Our lives are never short of critics. Other people seem to know what we did wrong, what decisions we should have made, and how to correct the jams in which we land, even as they appear clueless about their own. There are times when clarity seems elusive and we feel adrift at sea or pushed to the edge. In these times a listening ear is welcome. Even though there is little time for lengthy conversations, drivers may see the same passengers time and again, thus enabling them to listen, advise, and encourage.

A global event, such as a pandemic, changes life on many different levels. It inevitably leaves those who must experience it with unwelcome and confusing feelings. Decisions that involve personal security, job, home, and relationships, that seemed solid, before it started, now appear ephemeral and uncertain. Lives sometimes hang on tomorrow’s headlines. Personal well-being changes suddenly, without notice and, in some cases, promises to never return to its previous state of innocence. Familiar relationships become an anchor as never before.

We are in-the-midst of a gigantic human experience. It is something we have never experienced before in our history and potentially signals a vulnerability that may return in our lifetime. This is a bewildering reality with which we are faced. We are, however, resilient, creative, and persistent people. We will be challenged but not undone by events. This is the hope and the reality upon which we can rely.

Featured post

A Sence of Pilgrimage

In the work of a living poet the dominant personal myth may, in early or even in mature work, be only half formed; the poet himself does not yet know the whole story — if he did, he would stop writing. . . . Yet from the first his bent, his cast of imagination, has declared itself. “THE SENSE OF PILGRIMAGE”1


“I study up on countries that I plan to visit,” responds a boarding passenger. Toting a stack of books. He appears slightly out of his element. He sits quietly in the seat directly behind me. I’ve come go know him as Bob, we remain on first name basis. He daily boards for a brief trip to the library, then home. The Pubic Library is the computer source for many of my riders, seeing Bob board with books under his arm is a relatively rare occurrence sight, since most simply surf the internet or check their email.

Bob, a gentleman of distinguished older age, usually sits quietly half way back as to not invite conversation from the driver. Having, at one time, also been a bus driver, he knows how distracting a simple conversation can be along a busy route. Mine is one of the busiest. Today, however, the bus relatively empty, and the traffic less complex, Bob decides to talk. He re-positions himself within earshot.

Usually wearing a baseball cap, gentleman’s khaki shorts and calf length athletic socks, Bob appears to be more sophiticated than most. I see him daily boarding from the library or the university travelling to a stop that serves small appartments and prebuilt homes.

“In the fall you would call this ‘Indian Summer’,” he offers.

“Certainly unseasonably warm,” I affirm. “Not like February.”


“What country you researching now?” getting back to his books in hand.

“France. Going to Paris in April … spend a month.”

“Wow,” short response being best. I do have to drive.

“Been to Rome, Vietnam, Thailand, and India.”

“You researched each?”

“Yes, gives me a project and makes the experience richer. Vietnam was the country I have liked best so far … spectacular country, everything is so green … lush.”

I have been Bob’s driver for two years, and have learned that he has been a baseball scout in the minor league, and in more recent years a tour bus driver before settling in Grand Junction. He is an avid reader (over 100 plus books a year, if you can believe it), has completed two novels but not attempted publication. Bob is single and lives alone, does not own a car, does not dine out. He has no local family and draws a meager retirement income which he saves to invest in travel.

Don’t expect to see Bob on your expensive group tour to Paris. He will travel frugally, baseball cap and Bermuda shorts, investing only in those things that will create the experience he desires. He will be finding an apartment off the beaten path in the center of the historic city. He will be the tourist you meet standing quitely in museums for hours actually reading the exhibits and displays. Should you be fortunate enough to encounter him, a simply smile and a cheerful “hello” may illicit a thoughtful round of questions that will happily embellish your appreciation of what you experience. He will then turn and vanish into the crowd having contributed a few moments of delight in your busy itinerary.

Do I sound enamoured with Bob’s approach to life, well maybe a little. His focus on simplicity has enabled him to experience moments deeply. I would more accurately say, I resonate with Bob in many ways, but my interest is really a celebration of the array of passengers that people my life daily. I don’t have time to sit at length with a cappuccino or linger over a latte, but I appreciate the repeated brief encounters and how they enrich the lingering moments of each day.


One day in early September Bob boarded late in the day. The bus was empty and he sat close behind me. “They have found Pancreatic Cancer,” he announced. “I’m considering the options for treatment,” he continued in sober direct tone.
“What are they offering,” I asked.
“The usual,” he replied,

“Radiation or Chemo.”
“What are your chances for full recovery?”
“It may extend my life a few months, but they will make me sick and miserable for much of it.”
“Lot to think about, huh.”

Not long after, Bob boarded a busy bus. He ran his pass and confided, “Not going to take the treatment. Checked myself in to Hospice Palliative Care. I’ll live until I die!”
“Big decision Bob.” I replied.
” good with it,” he went to his seat.
Fall months flowed slowly. Bob would board now and again. Some days he would be waiting for another bus and would cast a knowing glance my direction. Others, he would wave me on waiting for the next bus. As the weather changed he seemed more susceptible to cold and wet. I found him shivering on a bench waiting for another on more than one occasion. His face gradually began to betray weight loss gradually growing more gaunt with each passing day. He, however continued living life much as he had. Ever the sports enthusiast, he would join into conversations about the Mavericks, or the Broncos. Well versed in professional sports, since his years as a baseball scout, others listened to his well studied opinions. Boarding with a hand load of books or his familiar folded Daily Sentinel tucked under his arm, he never flagged in interest of national and world events.
One day, however, in late November, he boarded asking where my bus went. He seemed confused and disoriented. Since that moment his acuity ebbed and flowed. Then, like a great oak falling deep in the forest unnoticed by most hurrying to workday appointments, he no longer came to board.

Brother, I’ve seen some


Cultutes Collide

Harvey Leakey, writer for the Canyon Country Zephyr, a great grandson of John and Louisa Wetherill, white traders and friends to the Navajo residents of the Four Corners area, wrote the attached thought provoking article

Slim Woman of Kayenta…by Harvey Leake | Canyon Country Zephyr

Anthropologist Harvey Leake researches his family myths.


I recently completed a Pilgrimage to Monument Valley in Southern Utah. This region of the Colorado Plateau, characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, is between 5,000 & 6,000 feet above sea level. The desertine valley shares the boundary between Arizona and Utah on the northern edge of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Continuing my interest in the lives of Women Adventurers, I recently read the story of Louisa and John Wetherill of Kayenta, the first white traders to settle the area and I wanted to visit their original trading post at Oljato, if it could be found. After a few initial

You will have to leave,” the Navajo leader, Hoskininni Begay (Hashké Neiniihí Biye’: Son of Giving Out Anger), ordered John Wetherill on March 17, 1906 when he rode up to the water hole known to the local people as Oljato (Ooljéé’tó: Moonlight Water).

wrong turns, we eventually found the right road. Drove ten miles west of the Golding Lodge only to have the pavement end. From there a gravel wash board beckoned us. We continued but when the gravel turned to red powder and our wheels began sinking, we concluded the location of the post would forever remain a mystery.We turned around to start home unfulfilled and yet trying to convince ourselves all had not been in vane when, gleeming before us, on a distant hillside announced white letters spelling Oljato. Just to the left of the sign, actually naming a small service community for park workers, stood quietly in Cottonwoods, the remains of the Wetherill Trading Post covered by red clay silt from a small cross roads. This was the ancient Spring of Moonlight Water. No signs or depictions that this was the fruition of John Wetherill’s pilgrimage seeking the mythic location, or simply the first site established by a white trader to the area. It was a quiet intimate moment. Pilgrimage complete.



Fall trip to Four Corners area through which I was attempting to connect with my recent reading about the lives of the Wetherill family and their relationship with the Navajo people near Kayenta, AZ.

We spent two nights at Canyonlands Ranch north of Blanding. Walking the night trails under infinite galaxies sprawled overhead, we came upon this amazing tipi. What an incredible scene.

WEST | The Jennings Papers

It is 1849 and the California Gold Rush is underway. Johnathan Jennings, a merchant from Pittsburgh decides to take his family to San Francisco to relocate his business. That will be the first of many decisions he makes that will doom many in his family, and it worsens when he leaves his daughter Sarah behind to die. The entire story is told through “found” journals and letters.

The reader is enchanted by the plain brown cover emulating a personal journal. One wonders how a journal might hold the attention given the often meandering style of such personal writing. A quick glance inside, however, captures one in the family circle and causes the reader to imediately in the family dream of new life in the west.

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