Pilgrim Cafe

Continuing Conversations on the Human Spirit

Looking for Jimmy

I am standing in front of the original Wetherill Trading Post at Oljato 10 miles east of current Goldings Resort in Monument Valley. John Wetherill and his brother-in-law John Wade encountered a group of navajos on horseback carrying rifles and were told to leave. The two men were in search of a location to establish a new trading post which would be the farthest location west for their trading business with the Navajo people. The following web address is the story of the result of their encouter.

John’s wife Louisa is a major interest in the story. She became so fluent in the difficult Navajo language that she was adopted by Chief Hoskininni who believed that she was actually Navajo at birth. The Wetherills were Quaker and delt so peaceably with the Deneh that they developed a major impact on the Navajo people and came to discover the many ancient residences of the ancient ones (Anastazi) in the Four Corners area. After five years at Oljato they moved their post to Kayenta, Arizona all the time growing in impact.

A Journal of Gary Fillmore’s wanderings on the Colorado Plateau -and beyond.

Gary’s article on The Slim Woman opens the life of Louisa Wetherill. Louise expressed her Quaker Faith through her love of the Navajo people with who she and her husband, John, lived and served. They developed trading posts in Four Corners area in the late 1800s eventually permanently settling in Kayenta, AZ.

John Wetherill is credited with having dicovered Mesa Verde and many of the Anasazi dwellings in area. Louisa, on the other hand, became fluent in the difficult Navajo language, and recorded many of their stories and legends. She was so genuinely interested in and loved the people that she was accepted as a family member of the Dine.

Insight into the lives of these incredible adventurers can be discovered in Traders to the Navajos, by Frances Gillmore and Louisa Wetherill.

A Persian Rosary

Concepts to live by.

By Mirza Ahmad Sohrab


By Mirza Ahmad Sohrab


  1. Love and serve humanity.
  2. Praise every soul. If you cannot praise him, let him pass out of your life.
  3. Dare, dare and then- dare more.
  4. Do not imitate. Be original. Be inventive. Be yourself. Know yourself. Stand on your own ground. Do not lean on the borrowed staffs of others. Think your own thoughts.
  5. There is no saint without a past. There is no sinner without a future.
  6. See God and good in every face. All the perfections and virtues of the deity are hidden in you. Reveal them. The Savior also is in you. Let his grace emancipate you.
  7. Be cheerful. Be courteous. Be a dynamo of irrepressible happiness. Assist everyone. Let your life be like unto a rose; though silent it speaks in the language of fragrance. You are a trinity of body, mind, and soul. The food of the soul is Divine Love. Therefore, feed your soul on Divine Love- so that the body and the mind be invigorated.
  8. Be deaf and dumb concerning the faults of others. Do not listen to gossip. Silence the tale-bearer with virtuous conversation.
  9. Stop the circulation of the poisonous germs of religious fanaticism through your veins and arteries and those of your children. Never argue with any soul concerning his religious beliefs. Religious controversies lead to hatred and separation. Religion is Love and Fellowship not theological dogmas and creeds. When you have Love and Sympathy in your heart for your fellowmen, you have the highest type of religion, no matter by what name you may call yourself. Rest assured that the emancipation of the world is through the Nameless God of Love and in the Nameless Religion of Love.
  10. Develop the qualities of essential goodness. Every soul is endowed with the attributes of intrinsic beauty. Discover those attributes and hold them before the world.
  11. Religion is a personal relation between man and his maker. For God’s sake, do not interfere with it, do not organize it, neither try to reduce it to so many statements. Organization, in whatever form, is the death-knell of religion. Do not preach this. Practice and teach it. Let no one dictate to you regarding what you should or what you should not believe and do in your spiritual life. The ultimate authority is the Authority of the Spirit within you and not that of any man, dead or alive. The Unerring Witness is standing in the centre of your being- all powerful mighty and supreme! His is the final testimony. His is the court of last appeal.
  12. God’s love is in you and for you. Share it with others through association. Do not court separation from the creatures, but unite with them in love. To know yourself through your fellowmen is to know God.
  13. Have courage. Realize your divine origin. You are the ray of the Sum of Immortal Bliss. You and the Father are one. The deathless radiant Self is in you. Reverence your Celestial station. No harm will ever come to you. God’s perfect image and likeness you are, abiding in the fort of his Protection. Association with all the people will lead to spiritual unfoldment and not to the deterioration of the soul. Live above the world of faith and infidelity; religion and atheism; orthodoxy and Liberalism, truth and error; angel and devil; and you will be living with, and in God… THE GOD OF ABSOLUTE GOOD, THE GOD OF ABSOLUTE BEAUTY, THE GOD OF ABSOLUTE PERFECTION.
  14. In religion there is no compulsion. The path to spiritual unfoldment is not by restructions and constraints; not anathema and excommunication, but by constant progress from world to world, from star to star, from constellation to constellation, forever and without end.
  15. The light of lights is in your heart. Uncover it, and let it shine for the illumination of mankind. Do not expect a favor from friend or foe, and you shall never be disappointed.
  16. Overcome malice, envy, personal spite and prejudice, and you are the master of Destiny.
  17. Do not condemn a single soul. In condemning him, you are condemning yourself. Never for an instant forget that he is also the child of God. Upon the great sea of spirit, there is room for every sail. In the limitless sky of truth there is room for every wing.
  18. Do not murder the character of a soul, under the guise of religion, either by bitter blame or faint praise. Spiritual murder is worse than the taking of a man’s life. Have a sin-covering eye. See only the beautiful, the lonely, the noble.
  19. Be gentle. Be lenient. Be forgiving. Be generous. Be merciful. Be wakeful. Be thoughtful. Be frank. Be positive. Soar in the atmosphere of freedom. Walk in your chosen path and let no criticism disturb you in the least. This is the way to success, to happiness, to health, to prosperity, to glory. Let me walk in it during the days of my life.

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He seizes the cool iron rod from its usual nest aboard the 40 foot lowfloor transit bus resting for noontime shiftchange. Preparing to return to afternoon service the driver ticks through his usual pretrip check list. Tamping each wheel and dually patiently performing inspection around the simmering vehicle he works methodically, ignoring all else as he checks its road readiness for eight more rounds, eighty more miles of starts and stops before night fall. Rounding the nose of the bus, he greets passengers who have been patiently awaiting his signal to the close of this daily ritual. The late comedian Johnny Carson’s joke about the Robin simmering his worm on the Pamona Freeway is not far from the current waiting conditions.

“Hundred and four degrees on the digital sign at the bank when I passed, ” offers a waiting cyclist as he completes loading a yellow Trek on the front rack. “When will this end? Have you seen the report this week?”

“Didn’t catch it,” the driver tosses over his left shoulder continuing to focus on changeover protocol. “When WILL it end?” he wonders silently checking each gage, then entering his driver identification number to start the bus’ GPS and communication system. “Short driver this morning,” he grumbles as he raises the seat, and adjusts the level of the steering wheel and rearview mirrors. Entering his last numbers, he hears the familiar bells and radio responses. “All aboard, he calls as the passengers begin loading toward cool air-conditioned comfort. [relative comfort]

“Is this the bus that goes to the mall?” a waiting passenger inquires.

“Which mall?” querries the driver. “There is Rimrock, Grand Mesa Center, Mesa Mall, Eastgate, Teller Arms. Where do you want to go?”

“Walmart.” came the frustrated reply.

“Sorry to have to ask you another question.” rebounded the driver, “Which Walmart, downtown or North Avenue?

“Next to Lowes.” came the irritated reply.

“You’re boarding the wrong bus, sorry! You need Eleven.” he picks up the microphone. “Route nine to route eleven, hold please, I have a passenger for you.”

“Copy,” comes the reply.

“There,” the driver pointed. “Your bus is diagonal across the concourse mam.” She turns with increasing frustration and pushes back through the boarding passengers.

“Next,” calls the driver.

“I need a day pass,” barks the next in line, wearing earbuds that were competing for the moment.

“Three dollars and seventy-five cents, sir.” responds the driver patiently awaiting fumbling fingers seeking exact change.

“How much?” the impaired border asks as he pulls the impediment from one ear.

“Three, seventy-five,” repeated the driver.

“Have two, ninety,” barks the fumbling passenger.

“Sorry, the fair for a day pass is $3.75.” reiterated the driver. “What would you like to do?” the seconds ticking away.

“I need a day pass. I have several appointments.” There is silence as the driver waits, having had experience with previous underfinanced confrontations. He then continues, “I can give you a one-way pass for $1.50 and you can get another later when you get more money.” he awaits a decision.

“Here, I’ll pay the difference, we’ve got to get going,” called a passenger waiting in line.

“Ok, that’s thoughtful, mam” affirms the driver.

“Be certain to thank the nice woman.”

“Thanks,” rises the frustrated response as he hoists a heavy backpack to his shoulders and heads for an empty seat in the rear.

Boarding continues with most passes registering.

“Sir, is this your pass?” the driver stops a man obviously in his 30s.

“Yeah, why?” comes the reply.

“It’s a youth/senior pass, sir. You appear to be neither. May I see the pass?” Passenger hands over the pass.

“What is our name, sir?”

“Mark,” he replies.

“This pass was sold to Ruth Alvarez. See, the name is written on the side of the pass. I have to confiscate it. How do you want to pay?”

“You can’t do that,” combats the passenger.

“Sorry, sir this is not your pass.”

“Ok, it’s my girlfriend’s pass, can I board anyway?”

“Can’t do that for you, sir, you must have a valid pass to board. Tell your girlfriend to pick up her pass at the main office downtown.”

“I’ve got to get to an appointment and I can’t walk in this heat.”

“Sorry, sir. Next in line.” There is no offer from others on board as the man turns into the hot afternoon.

A woman with a cart of groceries runs her card and makes her way slowly back prompting a younger man to rise from his seat to allow her a place.

A young woman with two children in tow boards, barking orders and directions to the youngsters as she fumbles for the appropriate fare.

Several final passengers run their fares and the bus is boarded.

Closing the doors, the driver prepares methodically to depart. Just as he begins to press the accelerator the radio blares, “We have a runner, running toward route nine.” The driver stops his forward progress, opens the door, and awaits the straggler.

“Thanks, driver,” huffs the bedraggled passenger, “Thought I had missed you. Are we going to make our connections in Clifton?” The driver smiles, considering the irony of the moment, she enters and pushes her way by several empty seats to an open place in the back corner.

Seconds still ticking, the driver closes the forward door and pulls into line with circling buses leaving the terminal.

And so it begins. Eleven routes and eleven drivers (four Para-Transit), similarly beginning their afternoon vigil, serving exhausted passengers for some 150 square miles this sultry summer afternoon.

My Buddy Paddy

Found at an Grand Junction animal shelter on a serendipitous visit my wife Gail took with a friend. Once seen Gail texted me at work and I said “GET HIM!” She did and now at 13 years old he still frolics the park. We came to find out that Paddy is a pure Puffball Chinese Crested.


I left professional ministry several years ago. Leaving behind the daily responsibilities and rituals of ministry, began a personal journey involving an opportunity to review the question, “Who am I really?” Its not that, while formally engaged in the profession, I consciously awoke each morning and told myself “You are a minister today.” I didn’t. In fact I remember just the opposite. I remember feeling more uncomfortable with the title than that the shoe fit. When introduced in social situations I often felt compelled to offer some disclaimer to the introduction. I would say something that I hoped would separate me from what I imagined to be the other’s unflattering association with one bearing the title. “I’m still a fun guy” or “I can party down as well as anyone else,”I would think, even if I didn’t actually utter the words. Its not that I consciously sought validation from the job to define my spot in the universe, or how I could actually draw a salary for doing something that I so thoroughly loved.

The French called it raison d’étra or one’s reason for being. It seems to be a common human experience to asks, “Why am I here? Why do I take up space on this planet?” It is also common for persons to associate purpose and meaning with roles that they assume even for a short time, and when those roles vanish, to wonder “why am I here … now?” Such quandary grows more prominent as we grow older and seem to be passed by for everything meaningful. Unless we morph our, career long, reason for being into something more appropriate to our current station in life, we find a creeping since of doubt and depression eating away at the fabric of life

This is so for a number of my friends who have chosen mass transit as a retirement career. There is a definite satisfaction in helping others get to work or appointments or simply get from one point to another in their daily bustle. It does seem that bus drivers have a helpful role in our suburban society, even in the canyon country of Colorado’s Western Slope. When one lives in Fruita, the gateway to Utah on I-70 west of Grand Junction and works in Palisade, nestled at the foot of Mount Garfield and the Grand Mesa, east of the small city, and has no car, the bus is the common denominator. Even youth live on the opposite end of the Grand Valley from their school of choice and must take the bus. As fuel rises and populations grow, mass transportation will be even more of a necessity for communities like ours to function.

Ever since I first explained my background to passengers on route three the title has followed me like a hashtag. “Have a good day, Reverend,” might be occasionally offered as a passenger I didn’t even know left the bus, or “Big Al was a preacher before he became a driver,” was offered by a familiar passenger who was showing a newbie the ropes of transit service.

One day, however, a regular rider asked in earnest, as we jostled down the uneven street, “Big Al, are you still a preacher?”

“What was that?” I replied, not hearing as well as I used to. “What did you ask?”

“Are you still a preacher?” they repeated.

“Well not anymore,” I replied. “I retired.”

There was a moment of silence signally the assembly of an added question in the inquirers mind. “Can a preacher really retire?” I popped a glance in the rearview mirror noticing the expression on the questioners face. It was if I had suggested that Mother Nature herself, on some particular day, were to stop attending to the natural order that keeps the universe in balance.

“Well, I guess what I mean is that I no longer have a congregation.” I attempted to correct myself.

He was, again, silent for a spell and then from the rear of the bus came the words, “We’re your congregation! Isn’t that right?”

The Power of Humility

The river and the sea can be kings of a hundred valleys,

Because they lie below them.

That is why they can be the kings of a hundred valleys.


If the sage wants to stand above people,

He must speak to them from below.

If he wants to lead people,

He must follow them from behind.


When the sage stands above people,

They are not oppressed.

When he leads people,

They are not obstructed.

The world will exalt him

And not grow tired of him.

Because he does not resist,                       None in the world resists him.

                     Te-Tao  Ching #66




Drivers on city buses must sign an agreement that they will not text or talk on the cellphone or listen to cell music while in the drivers seat. Failure to comply with this regulation is grounds for immediate termination. 

Transit and Paratransit drivers also learn from the getgo to honor the Triple LC principle (LLLC). Safety behind the wheel requires a driver to LOOK AHEAD, looking at least 15 second ahead of the vehicle for immediate developments in the encroaching roadway. A driver must LOOK AROUND, being aware of all that is in front, on both sides and is likely approaching from the rear of the vehicle for emergencies waiting to happen.  A driver must ideally change his or her view by looking in a different mirror every 3-5 seconds, moving forward and backward in the drivers seat to remove obstructive views at intersections then looking left, right, and left again before proceeding. Finally, a driver must COMMUNICATE by using the horn, blinkers and signals to impart their intentions other drivers and pedestrians. Drivers are trained, retrained, reminded, and reported to keep these safety conserns fresh in mind.

It is amazing, though, as one with almost seven years attempting to replicate the safety principles expected by quality transit companies, how I have become increasingly aware of all that goes on around me. Awareness opens our eyes. 

To attain a glimpse of what the transit experience is like, try the following experiment. Leave your cell phone at home, turn off your MP3 and car radio. Cancel all other distractions. Then drive the same fixed route nine times on a single day and record all that happens along the way. You will, I guarantee, have an eye opening experience. You will be amazed at the occurances of which you have not previously been aware. REMEMBER, you must cut out all distractions and stay as alert as possible during the entire experiment. If you want to simulate a fixed route drivers experience even closer, you can also lay out a twenty-five minute course across town (one way) and at the other end turn around and drive back to where you started. Repeat this round trip nine times, you got it, going over the identical course 18 times in the same morning or afternoon uninterrupted. Additionally you must drive it as though you were expected to make it within the time allotted, driving the speed limit safely or disappoint your imaginary passengers on either end. If you would like to carry the simulation further, you can choose 6 stops  (eventhough a real route for GVT will have 20) each way. At each Stop wait 10 seconds and take off again. You must do it safely and quickly as possible. 

Being more alert behind the wheel, I have experienced many helpful and supportive passengers but I have also noticed behaviors that concern me. Many of these are related to new technology. Cell phones, tablets, Ipods, Mp3s, even laptops, are in many ways our friends when it comes to connecting with others that are not present, but they can also be serious distractions and can even threaten our welfare and that of others. 

You may have noticed that EDs (electronic devices) don’t remain in our scabbard, purse or pocket until we are ready to use them. They actually seem to intrude into our lives. They ring at awkward moments distracting all within earshot. There are signs in public places that ask that cell phones be turned down or off.  My church has a slide on the screen that reminds worshippers to quell their devices before the Sunday service. EDs seem to demand immediate attention, and offer the opportunity for immediate contact. I have passengers that board with a device inserted in their ears, never hear instructions, never make contact with other passengers. They are seemingly in their own little world, water walking inside a plastic bubble. I have seen parents order their children on board while fixed on a cell conversation while oblivious to the welfare and behavior of their crew.  I have seen passengers deboard only to immediately pick up their ED and walk directly in front of the bus on departure. Debording passengers are always to walk behind a bus so that they can be visible to oncoming traffic.

Passengers have deboarded, deracked their bikes only to pickup their EDs and ride away engaged in a saddle conversation. EDs, used while in transit, are definitely liabilities, they are not our friends in that particular setting. Now I will admit that there are times when EDs are helpful if used appropriately while seated. Passengers, make appointments, check on arrangements, field emergencies and do research all on their EDs. They carry on important conversations with family, friends and work associates. Youth connect with other youth diverging from another direction at a single point. All use phones to check on bus schedules and times. Of course our focus here is personal safety, and we are lifting up practices and behavior that aide in getting to your destination safely.

Waiting behind another car at a traffic light, I notice that it does not move when the light changes. I tap my horn gently, only to discover the familiar hand motion in the driver seat informing me that the driver was texting at the intersection. (How many different ways can texting at the intersection put you and others at risk?) Not being optimally allert at the intersection (remember the LLLC) can place you at risk when you touch the accelerator to start again, or when something goes wrong.  I have seen tragedies unfold right in front of me that I avoided only by being allert. Be allert. Use EDs at a time and in a manner that does not put yourself or someone else at risk. Texting while … driving, parenting, walking, boarding a bus, biking, skate boarding, running or engaging in activities that require you to be allert is truly not a risk worth taking. 

Shortly after I began driving for GVT, one night, I had a mini emotional breakdown. I came home and jumped on my bed and wepted. I was overcome with the reponsibility of carrying passengers and driving half million dollar carrages on public streets. It was and is a weighty responsibility that each driver willingly assume when they sighn a contract, even though, like me, the full weight may not dawn until sometime later. The company has training and supervisoral support to help you sholder the load. An umbrella of insurance covers you as long as you are not at fault. To protect yourself you must Look Ahead, Look Around, Leave Room and Communicate. This is the best path to success as a transit driver and passenger, O yes, and leave the cell phone turned off in our pocket.

It Hurts!!!

It was a routine day. A woman and man I recognized as a couple, quietly boarded the bus and took a seat together in back. Several stops later a woman, I also recognized, boarded and quickly chose a seat near the front. In process of taking her seat she hurriedly glimpsed through the cabin to discover the man and woman who had previously boarded. Visibly disturbed she took her seat mumbling under her breath. Soon, however, she could no longer hold her feelings.

” You lying S**of-a-B****,” she screamed as she rose from her seat and turned toward the couple, “So that’s the  b**** you’re with.” She paused to gather steam taking advantage of the sequestered aduience many of whom had also been objects or perpetrators of similar tirades. “He left me for that b****,” she continued, at the top of her lungs. And, if it was not already clear what had occurred, she yelled, “He – is – my – husband and he left me for that B**** .”

 The air hung red in anxious expectation. Riders squirmed or sank deeper into their cell phones and earbuds keeping one eye alert to evade any airborne objects. It was a moment worthy of Homeland Security. A situation that most drivers hope to avoid, but, like it or not, a moment that occasionally breaks out among people whose lives have been intertwine for generations. 

In addressing what I call such Manic Moments, I have learned to rely on gentle firmness. I driver wants to clearly direct the perpetrator to regard others who are collateral witnesses and are attempting to reach their chosen destination in the calmness of routine safety. So now it was my turn.

“Ma’am, I can tell that it hurts, but this is inappropriate for the bus,” I reminded. “You will need to take your seat quietly.”

” That lying SOB left me and f***** her!  I will not be quiet,” her full fury exploded.

” Ma’am, you have a choice, sit down and be quiet or leave the bus. (I paused but received no immediate compliance)  I am stopping,” I said louder.

Obviously wanting to tear his hair out by its roots, the lady decided to heed my warning, to reach her destination. She took her seat. She simmered in troubled silence occasionally casting fiery glances over her shoulder at the couple, but less animated. 

Eventually, we came to her stop and she fumed off the bus to the sidewalk where she let him know once again how she felt as we drove away. The couple sat in sheepish quietude eyes fixed on the floor beneath them.

This dramatic outburst was enough to shake the relative calm of passengers on their way to work or returning to the solitude of home. Subsequently, I have come to discover many could have identified with the woman’s fury, but, in the setting or moment were uncomfortable with her indiscretion.

It is easy to forget when our pressing agenda may not always be greeted sympathetically by others who may otherwise feel our pain. It is difficult to remember in times of great personal stress that we are the ones experiencing the feelings and not others around us.

The woman had obviously been hurt badly by the behavior of the coupled trapped in the back of the bus and wanted to expose the perpetrators without regard for the needs of those in her wake or, frankly, for her own welfare. In public, there are often other predators witnessing ones emotional vulnerability.

One is seldom hurt by discretion. 


Thanks to National Frontier Trails Museum,


The Jennings Papers / WEST is a masterful work viewing the endurance of members of a family that moved from Pennsylvania to California in the mid 1800s.  

I picked the title from Amazon because of the simple,  “diary” appearance of the cover,  read the preface and couldn’t put it down.  The Allen family, of which I am a proud member, looks to a diary by Sarah Chinkle Allen to unravel its roots.  My family moved from Pennsylvania,  and the Carolinas to Texas during the same period. Our story is repleat with accounts of endurance to rival that of the Jennings. 

For someone who thinks he is camping out when he gets a room at the Comfort Inn without a coffee service, the experience of their kind of endurance is now far from me.  I am soft by their standards.  

When the challenge appears, however, I have to remember that their inspiration is an immediate resource. Theirs, is the stock from which I evolved.  I still have relatives who live closer to those roots than I. A fact of which I am eternally proud. 

Many Americans don’t need to look more than a generation or two for such inspiration.  We are a people hewn from the pith of adventure, unquenchable hope, an earthy faith in our Maker and an inner endurance that embraces the unknown. Such an active memory is the marrow in our bones.


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