So, it's been a few days since I returned from the Fuller Center Spring Bicycle Adventure, riding with twenty-something other people down the Natchez Trace Parkway to raise money for the Fuller Center. I have to say, looking back, I feel like the trip was too short. I understand that a week was probably the appropriate amount of time for this trip, given spring schedules and family commitments and vacation schedules, etc.
But it still felt too short. It felt like we just were starting to get to know one another, just starting to fall into a rhythm of life together after a week, and then we go our separate ways and back to our 'regular' lives.
I've been on quite a few week-long trips that also involve sleeping on the church building floors (and other potentially uncomfortable places), mostly trips with youth groups ~ so I was ready for that aspect of this adventure.
What I wasn't ready for, though, was how great it would be to not be in charge. I was talking with a couple other pastors who were riding last week, and we all celebrated the freedom we were experiencing from having to make decisions. Each of us has led similar types of trips with youth groups, they (since they're both retired) have probably led many more than I have. But to experience the trip as a participant instead of as the leader was tremendously freeing for me.
At the same time, it wasn't a church trip ~ and because of that, I missed some of the aspects of this type of adventure that I've come to expect. For instance, directed conversation. We had a devotion every morning before we rode, and we had some group meetings. Other than that, though, there was no all-group conversations reflecting on our experience. Don't get me wrong ~ this was a different type of trip from what I've led, so I'm not advocating for the Fuller Center to include anything like that on future trips. I'm just saying I noticed that we didn't do that.
But because we didn't, I found it tougher to get to know the others on the trip. What I'm accustomed to is that I will know the participants before we leave, and that they'll all know each other as well. One of the things that happens in our week together, particularly through the group-building and directed conversation components of the trip, is that we get to know each other much better than we had before.
And so, without those components, after a week with these folks, I found myself wanting to have more time. I felt like we were just halfway through the trip.
I'm looking forward to next year, and next year I'll know better what to expect. Until then, let the adventure continue.