An article in the San Jose Mercury News was titled “A Bike Ride Stranger Than Fiction.” It told of two young men, twin brothers, who decided to go to one of the large parks in California, take their mountain bikes, and make a 40-mile loop, going along ridges and up and down trails. After reaching a certain summit, they would head back to the ranger station where they had parked their truck.
So the two brothers, full of adventure, set out on their bike trip— going fast, pedaling up and down hills and ravines.
The park had coyotes, wild boar and all kinds of other creatures. In the dark areas of the forests, there was a considerable amount of danger.
After a while they realized that they had planned poorly, underestimating their trip. They asked themselves, Will we be able to make the summit and get back to the ranger station before dark? The ride was a lot harder than they’d thought, and there was still a long way to go.
The twins decided to go up a high summit trail, and when they got to the top, they were exhausted. There was a great view. They admired it briefly, then said, “Now we better get out of here.” Off in the distance at the next ridge, they could see a rainstorm coming in. It was hard enough riding their bikes on the trail as it was. All they needed was rain turning the trail to mud.
It Gets Worse
But the rain hit, and so they began slogging through the mud. The brothers were so exhausted, they began thinking it was the end. But they struggled on a little more.
Then things got worse. They had lost the trail. It was too much. They both fell down in the mud — flat on their backs, unable to move. “Well, it’s been a good life,” one of them said.
So they lay there as comfortably as possible, exchanging stories of the adventures they’d shared.
Suddenly one of them looked up. An old man was standing in front of them. He had a walking stick in his hand and an old rain cap on his head. But the most striking feature was his long white beard.
The man looked at them and said, “What are you doing?”
The twins answered in unison, as twins often do. They said, “We’re going to die.” It was said as a joke, but not really. They thought they’d come to the end.
“Where’d you come from?” they asked the man.
The old gentleman didn’t answer them directly. He said, “I am a caretaker.”
“Where’s the trail back to the ranger station?” they asked.
The man’s eyes had a gentle, compassionate look. He pointed.
“That’s the way home,” he said.
And just a few yards away was the trail they’d been looking for. They hadn’t seen it.
The old man said, “You guys are not ready to die.”
They all smiled at that.
Finally refreshed, the young men got up, got on their bikes, and headed down to the trailhead a few yards away. They turned to wave to the old gentleman, but he was already gone.
That night came the gift, stranger than fiction. One of the brothers, the writer of the article, had a dream. In this dream the old man, the caretaker, appeared to him.
The young man said, “What are you doing in my dream?”
The old man said, “I wanted to tell you that you have more adventures ahead of you and to be thankful.”
“Thankful for what?”
The old man said, “You are a wild spirit and have a big heart.”
Smiling then, the old man continued, “Be thankful for every minute you are here.”
The young man challenged him. “You mean wander the hills alone like you?”
The old man said, “No. Be the caretaker of your life.”
When the dreamer awoke, he was filled with a contentment and happiness that he’d not felt for a long time.
The conclusion he reached from all this: We are all caretakers for ourselves and each other. Take every step with grace, for life is a precious adventure. “And most of all,” he said, “never give up.”
Who Was That Stranger?
Although it didn’t say this in the article, the twins in this story had met the ECK Master Fubbi Quantz. He has been a spiritual guide since the time of Buddha, about 500 BC. His portrait is at the top of this article. To learn more about Fubbi Quantz, visit Eckankar.org/explore/spiritual-teachers