“Let us never take our gifts for granted”

It’s so hard to believe that we’re already in South Dakota! Today, Day 34, marked the halfway point of our journey. We’ve gotten into a routine of wake up, eat, cycle, eat, laugh, cycle, eat, cycle, eat, shower (sometimes), sleep. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture—we are actually cycling across the country right now, which is kind of insane when you think about it! It’s good to refocus on that fact. Each day is filled with beautiful sights, incredible people, profound conversations, and tons of memories. Pictures are great reminders of the trip, but you really have to live in the moment and enjoy everything as it happens, ya know?

I had a fantastic English teacher during my junior year of high school. Her name was S. Kathy Christenson, and she was remarkable. She was a sailor, a snowboarder, a poet, and so much more. Mrs. Christenson started each class by reading a poem. We didn’t have to analyze it or pick it apart—she just wanted us to absorb it, reflect upon it, and then begin our class. She was so full of life. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2011 and fought valiantly, but lost her battle in November 2011. After her death, her family discovered a poem that she had written but never shared.

“Were There But One Sunrise”

S. Kathy Christenson
Were there but one sunrise a year,

who would not go out to look?

Who would not be filled with awe?

Who would not cry out in wonder and gratitude?

Were love to touch the hungry heart only now and then,

we might understand its value,

And guard it as now we do a precious stone

–whose worth is so much less than Love’s.

 

But we are surrounded by wonders.

We take ourselves—body and mind, our lives,

our opportunities for happiness, for granted.

Each fresh wonder, every unexpected gift

becomes for us nothing more than our expected due.

Surely, we think, the sun will rise, as in a million mornings past.

So let us remember to be thankful.

Let us never take our gifts for granted.

 

I recently dedicated a ride to Mrs. Christenson and I read this poem, because I believe it’s a perfect reminder to enjoy every moment of this cross-country trip and our lives in general. Go see the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. Dance like crazy during Heather’s moshers. Talk to everyone you meet. Herd some cattle in Minnesota. Eat ice cream multiple times per day. Stop by that little thrift shop. Skip rocks in Devil’s Lake. Have awesome conversations with your teammates. Many people aren’t able to experience all of the things we are doing on this trip. So as cliche as it sounds, we have to try to not to take all of this for granted. I am having the time of my life right now, and I can’t wait to see what the second half of the summer will bring!

 

Comments (4)
  • FABULOUSLY said, thanks ofr sharing! and what a wonderful legacy your teacher has…

  • Claire C. Christenson says:

    S. Kathy was my mom.
    Catherine, she would be so proud of you!
    Thank you for living her legacy!
    I found this page by googling “Surely the sun will rise as in a million mornings past” (needing to remember the end of that poem), and I am so thankful to have come across your post. She really was an extraordinary woman.
    I’m 25, live in Colorado, and my phone number is 720-660-9382. If you are ever coming through Boulder give me a shout! I would love to meet you.
    XO
    Claire

  • Tricia Hermes says:

    You were as lucky to have her as your teacher as I was to have her as my best friend. Thank you for sharing that.

  • Chuck Venegoni says:

    Thank you for your poignant post. Today all who knew and loved S. Kathy will remember her, but what we most recall today and always is not her passing. Fixed in our memories is what she shared so generously with all while she was with us: her inspiration, passion, and countless gifts. Just a few days ago, not even thinking that today loomed in the near future, S. Kathy was the topic of a conversation about the enormity of her many accomplishments and the legacy that she has left. Today we will gather at the Reading Garden, read poems, and remember our beloved S. Kathy. Mrs. Drapatsky and I will read your post in full.

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