Friday, March 22, 2013

Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure

The weather this week has been … rather less perfect than we might have liked to have ridden through. I'm riding down the Natchez Trace Parkway with the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure this week.

I rode on this same trip last year, and aside from one day of rain (which was almost pleasant to ride through, since it was relatively warm), we had beautiful weather. This year, however, only the first day was beautiful ... or even pleasant, really. We've been a little challenged since then by rain, cold, and cold rain.

But it's still been an amazing trip. The people who choose to embark on this kind of experience are, almost by definition, interesting people. And because the Fuller Center is such a phenomenal organization, the people are interesting and compassionate, willing to raise funds and give time and energy to helping other people.

From a purely personal perspective, though, the thing I've most enjoyed about this trip has been spending time with my family. Last year I rode this adventure with my dad, and it's really great to spend the week with him again this year. Plus, it's cool to see how much the other people on this trip enjoy my dad.

But more than that, this year my daughter came along on the adventure. We got to spend a lot of time this week riding bicycles together, which we both really enjoy. I got to ride with her on a day when she rode 100 kilometers, which was twice as long as her previous longest ride. I got to ride with her when we were sitting in a paceline going about 20 mph down the highway. It's fun to go fast.

In addition to the simple riding down the road on two wheels, it gave me joy to do a couple other things with my amazing daughter. She was interested in learning to shoot a basketball. So with our extra time one evening, we spent a while shooting hoops (which provoked a little nostalgia in some of the other riders as they remembered their dad teaching them to play basketball).

I also loved teaching her, on the day we helped repair someone's home, to use a handsaw and a hammer & chisel to cut and shape a board for the deck of the house.

But more than those things I've enjoyed being around Harper on this trip, because I get to see her as she is around other people (not just the way she is around her family). It's fun to watch her enjoy other people, and to watch other people really enjoy being around her. And I have to say, she's pretty great.

We may end up doing this ride together again next year … that'd be fun.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rain, Rain, Rain

Day Two on the Natchez Trace Parkway with the Fuller Center for Housing Spring Bicycle Adventure today, and we encountered almost every single type of rain possible through the course of the day. 

Before we left one of the most mission-minded and hospitable congregations in the world, it just started to sprinkle a little bit.  Intermittent light showers gave way to stronger rain which soaked us from above as it fell, from in front as we rode, and from below as our tires kicked water up into our faces and skunk-striped our backs.

There were a few moments that it didn't actively rain on us, times when millions of tiny drops clouded our vision almost like fog, times when huge drops pelted our faces and shoulders ... and a couple of us even though there was a moment or two of hail.

The rain, and the somewhat-cold that came with it, didn't dampen our mood too much, but we were all relieved to get to the warmth of the Collinwood United Methodist Church.

We're having a fantastic adventure so far, and it's a tremendous joy for me to be with my dad and my daughter.  I think maybe I'll write more on the experience of being with family in the next couple of days.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Lenten Midweek Reflection on Psalm 32


I am curved in on myself
and lack the concern for others I should have
I am selfish,
wanting for me before, and more than, for others
I am afraid
wishing that I can do enough to earn the favor of the divine

I know these things about me
(and I expect they're true of you ?)
I know these things about me
yet seem to not be able to move beyond
selfishness, greed, envy, deceit, cowardice …
are they
character flaws?
focus areas to improve on?
topics for self-improvement?
or plain old, regular and ordinary,

the latter, I expect ...

sin, to which
I am in bondage, and cannot free myself

Yet, happy are we
(not that we revel in sin)
happy are we
that our sin is put away
happy are we
that we have the opportunity to return to the Lord our God
happy are we
for God does not seek us out to condemn the world
but in order that the world will be saved

happy are they, we,
whose transgressions are forgiven
rejoice in the Lord
shout for joy

let our prayers of thanksgiving rise like incense
and may our prayers remind us, as well
that even when we are not happy, we are beloved by God.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lent Midweek Reflection on Psalm 63

Ever been thirsty?
ever been hungry?

the kind of thirsty where it's hard to breathe
it takes 45 seconds just to moisten your tongue
you can't imagine another moment without water
and taking a drink preoccupies your thoughts completely

ever been thirsty?

ever been hungry?

the kind of hungry where your stomach has stopped rumbling
a handful of raisins would fill you up
and simply standing up makes you lightheaded
ever been hungry?

in that way, my flesh faints for you, O God
my soul thirsts
as my throat in a desert

the world around me says
get yourself a drink
make yourself some food
but why do I spend my time on that which does not fill me
my energy on what does not satisfy?

so I turn, again and again
to you, the author and giver of all life

because though I try,
I can do nothing without you
though my culture's praise of independence
propels me from your presence
still my soul thirsts for you
to drink deeply from your love, from your grace

and though I try to stray,
still you seek me out, bring me back
welcome me into the arms of your mercy
Ever been hungry?
ever been thirsty?

my soul hungers and thirsts for you, O God
lead me beside still waters
restore me with living water
the bread of life, the cup of salvation.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lenten Midweek Reflection on Psalm 27

My home, when the blizzard drops snow incessantly
falling vertically onto my roof
and falling horizontally into my walls
and rattling the windows
my home is safe and secure
and I sip warm tea
huddled underneath a quilt

but when I go out,
the pellets of snow assail and devour my face
even as my feet struggle to find purchase
so they can do their job of remaining underneath me

and the shelter of my car is temporary
and tenuous
as I have to navigate slippery streets
and avoid other drivers

I may or may not be protected
by the divine
from the weather and dangers of the road
still, when I return to my home
it is as if I am resting in the shelter
of the God of the universe

my tea and my quilt, they comfort me

but do not give me up, O God
to the will of my adversaries
or especially to the will of your adversaries

I know that my home brings me comfort
and protection from the sting of the snow
from the bitter of the cold
yet so many of your children
do not have shelter
I know the food in my pantry
will fill my belly and warm my body
yet so many of your children
are hungry
I know I am protected by your strength
and need not fear your enemies
yet so many of your children are not safe
are not secure

I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord
here, in the land of the living
and I believe that, once I recognize the goodness of the Lord
I believe that sharing the goodness of the Lord
will probably begin with me

and with you.