Persons, places and things: bicycling and faith


By Barb Arland- Fye

Bicycling with two of my brothers from out of town on the Mississippi River Trail in the Quad-Cities, I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Then I struck a chain link fence, which etched a blood-red “grin” on my left arm, just below the elbow. We examined the wound and decided it probably didn’t need stitches, just first aid supplies. None of us wanted to abandon this long-planned bicycle ride, which served as the middle leg of a mini-reunion that was supposed to include Mass that evening.

Ben Houtekier
Pat Arland, Barb Arland-Fye and Tim Arland made a stop at an East Moline, Illinois, Fire Station during a river ride reunion.

If only we could find a Walgreens on the bicycle trail! We continued our ride on the Illinois side of the river, taking shelter in Rock Island during a brief rain storm and dodging puddles in Moline before stopping in East Moline for lunch and hopefully first aid. Riding through the downtown, I spotted an East Moline Fire Station where I decided to get assistance cleaning my wound.

Lieutenant Jerry Bennett was working in the downtown fire station’s garage and I asked him for help. He inspected the wound and instructed me to thoroughly clean my arm at the sink in the garage. He bandaged my arm and commented that I was lucky the cut hadn’t sliced a protruding vein. He asked when I received my last tetanus shot; I couldn’t remember. He advised going to a convenient care center to get a shot as a precaution. I appreciated his kindness and empathy.


Firefighter Ben Houtekier engaged my brothers Tim and Pat in conversation as they waited for me. Houtekier offered all of us ice to keep our water bottles cold for the rest of the journey. He also recommended a tetanus shot as a precaution. My brothers, the hams, asked if we could have our picture taken with one of our bicycles next to a fire engine. Houtekier obliged and then he and Lt. Bennett posed for a photo with me. They were good sports!

We left the station, grateful for the guardian angels God had placed on our road trip, and stopped for lunch before resuming our ride. On the way back to LeClaire, Pat’s bike sustained a flat tire. We stopped while he fixed it. I prayed to myself that we’d get back in time for me to get cleaned up, visit the convenient care center and still make it to Mass.

God provides! My younger son Patrick drove me to the convenient care center. Within 45 minutes I had seen the nurse and doctor and received a tetanus shot. We returned home in time for Mass at Our Lady of the River Church in LeClaire.

I introduced my brothers to our pastor, Father Joe Wolf, and parishioners standing nearby. One of the parishioners, Madelyn Phares, asked if we would bring up the gifts for Communion. What a blessing! We three siblings served a special role in preparing for the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic faith. The faith our parents, who celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary June 15, nurtured in us and our younger brother Brian from the cradle to adulthood.

After returning to his suburban Minneapolis home, my brother Tim called to tell me that bringing up the gifts had been a highlight of our weekend. “I was an altar server, but no one ever asked me to bring up the gifts,” he said. My brother Pat sent a text that he had caught his flight to Newark, New Jersey, and thanked me for a great weekend. The three of us were blessed to spend time together and to express appreciation in worship of the Lord who made it possible.

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