Riding the Wind of the Spirit
It all depends on the wind, you know. In so many languages the same word for Wind also means Breath and Spirit. That completely changes the way I look at the wind when I ride. (In Hebrew the word is Ruach; in Greek, Pneuma; in Sanskrit Prana.) A week ago I rode my third Century: a 100 mile bicycle ride in one day. This ride, as well as my previous Century, was a fundraiser for the Church Beyond the Walls, an amazing outdoor street church I have been involved in for the past three years. Last January I was humbled to be offered the job of serving as the new Missioner, or Pastor, of Church Beyond the Walls.
Church Beyond the Walls literally has no “walls:” no building. It gathers every Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM outside in Burnside Park, downtown, Providence. Church Beyond the Walls also tries to have no walls of ANY kind, as our invitation to the Eucharist proclaims:
“This is Christ’s table. Come, you who feel weak and unworthy, you who come often and you who have stayed away. Come you who love Jesus, and you who wish you could. Come sinners and saints, women and men, gay and straight. Come you who are sober and you who are not. Come you who are homeless, and you who have a place to rest your heads. Come you who are citizens of this land, and you who are not. Here you are citizens of the kingdom of God. Now join God’s people at this feast prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”
We gave riders the option of doing 100 miles all in one day with me, or splitting it up over the course of the long October weekend, as two riders, Catherine and Pasquale, chose to do. Five of us signed up for the 100 miles in a day option, which took place on Friday, October 7. Three showed up: my friends Pasquale, Preston, and I. Plus we had the BEST S.A.G wagon (Support And Gear), with my husband Ted, always my greatest supporter, driving, and Sarge, a mechanical genius, available to help with any mechanical issues.
When you go through an experience as long and as grueling as a 100 mile bicycle ride, you learn a lot about your fellow riders, and a lot more about yourself. I confess that I was anxious about this ride. But the day before the ride, I saw my friends who were riding with me, and my fears disappeared. I knew that we could do it TOGETHER.
What I learned about myself is that relationships are what is most important to me. Completing the 100 miles was important, yes, but I had done it before and knew I could do it. I realized that what was more important to me personally, was that my friends reached their goals. So I pledged to stay together with them no matter what, to encourage them in their riding. A second thing I learned, is that I am not a quitter. In fact, not completing the ride was not even an option in my book. It’s just one foot in front of the other. We had several situations which made the day a lot longer than I had anticipated. Having done it before, I had planned a generous amount of time, departing at 8 AM, and finishing by 6 PM. In reality we started at 8:30, and our extenuating circumstances made the finish time @9:30 PM. I unfortunately had to ride the last 18 miles alone. I missed my companions. I learned that it certainly is a lot harder to “go it alone,” in riding, and in life. But just knowing that the SAG wagon was nearby, with my friends cheering me on, gave me the strength to complete the ride.
The biggest thing I have learned from many years of riding, is that it all depends on the wind. When my husband Ted used to ride with me, he ALWAYS checked the wind direction and intensity beforehand. If it is in your face the whole way, it can be challenging, or even devastating. If it is at your back, on the other hand, it can literally make the ride “a breeze.” So when I ride into a fierce wind, as challenging as it may be, I am reminded, and awed, by the Power of the Spirit. I take a deep breath, and feel filled with the strength of the Spirit breathing within me. When the wind is at my back, no matter how fierce it is, I think about how important it is in our lives, to go with the flow of the Spirit, and not to resist the direction in which it wants to take us.
A miracle happened the day of our Century. The wind was at our backs as we road south from Providence to Galilee. Then the wind shifted, and was at our backs on the ride back to Providence as well. In other words, the Spirit was with us the entire way!
This day, may you know that the Spirit is with you, as close to you as your next breath. May you know the Spirit’s presence in the friends who accompany you on life’s journey.
May you also know the relentless power of the Spirit to move us in the direction we are supposed to go. May you never resist and try to ride against the Wind!
May you ride the Wind of the Spirit!
May you see the Spirit in all you encounter,
and may you reflect the Spirit to all you encounter.
Copyright, Linda Forsberg, October 18, 2016
Thanks to Ted (taking photo) Sarge (above left), Preston, and Pasquale!