Yesterday we had our first rest day at Toutle RV Park, 148 miles from Seattle. Though the first few days have given us just a taste of the challenge we are facing this summer, we were all eager for a rest. We spent the day taking naps, making runs to the bike shop, and some of us went to see a movie.
Today we set off again, and faced a formidable hill of literal ups and emotional downs. After a day like today, we have to remind ourselves why we’re on this crazy journey. A couple weeks before we left, we got that boost of courage through visiting The Refuge.
Sidewalks are still being poured, walls still being built, and plans are still being made, but the foundation is there and The Refuge Ranch is set to open its doors in August.
The first building we entered felt like a maze of concrete floors, bright, white walls and big windows. So far the building is only walls and windows, but the empty rooms will soon become classrooms and therapy rooms filled with life and hopefully laughter. We entered a small, windowless room that Pedal the Pacific funded last year. When finished, the rumpus room will be a fully padded, circular room where the girls can go to let out their anger and frustration and just be.
We walked into the first finished cottage, fully furnished by West Elm with stylish couches, rugs, and lamps. The kitchen backsplash is made of ceramic dove-shaped tiles, painted by people who have covered this place in prayers. Big windows fill the living room and kitchen with sunlight.
In that room, I began to see the the relationships that will be formed between the girls and staff. I can see them sitting at the kitchen island with their house mom, making pancakes and experiencing for the first time what many might call normalcy. I can see them dancing in the living room with their new sisters, who fully understand what they’ve been through.
It’s always been fun to imagine the way The Refuge will look and talk about the services they will provide. But being there, in the space, helped us to imagine the meaningful relationships that will form—relationships that will be healthy and restorative. These girls will walk into The Refuge only knowing relationships that hurt them. They may think they know love, but everyone who has ever spoken love to them has violated their bodies and broken their spirits. Here, maybe for the first time, they will experience love and security that doesn’t demand anything in return—love that is here simply because they are worthy of love.
And this, my friends, is the reason we ride. To provide space for these girls to be known and loved. With your help, we can give them that. Partner with us by donating at pedalthepacific.com/donate.