Persons, places and things: Pentecost and the flat tire


By Barb Arland-Fye

Riding along the shoulder of the Great River Road three miles from home on a spectacular Sunday afternoon, I detected the dreaded wobbly sensation on my bicycle’s back tire. I stopped


immediately and attempted to call my husband Steve on my Apple Watch. The call failed. So did calls to my son Patrick and to my Mom, who lives out of state but could have called Steve for me. Attempts to send text messages also failed. I did not realize the watch needed to be connected to my cellular network!

Since purchasing the watch for health reasons, I had not been taking my cell phone with me on bicycle rides, figuring it wasn’t necessary. But as I stood on the shoulder of the busy road, memories came to mind from nine years ago when I sustained a spiral fracture of my right tibia and fibula — and didn’t have a phone on me to call for help. I promised Steve and myself to carry the cell phone with me at all times.


As I walked home in my cleated bicycle shoes pondering my inability to communicate with my loved ones, I thought about the Scripture readings for Pentecost Sunday. I will read the first and second of those readings this coming Saturday night at my parish. One of the editors of the “Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word” observed that the first reading for Pentecost Sunday “directly inverts the Tower of Babel passage from Genesis.” In this story, the people’s desire for greatness led to their inability to communicate with one another. In the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus’ followers received the gift of the Holy Spirit and the people to whom they shared the Good News of Jesus Christ could hear that message in their own language.

My inability to communicate became clearer by the minute. I decided to stop at a house across the highway to try to get to a phone. The homeowner allowed me to use his cell phone to call my husband while also offering to fix my damaged tire, which he was unable to do.

I reached Steve but the connection was bad for some inexplicable reason. I didn’t think he could hear me and wondered if he would be able to find the address where I had stopped. About 15 minutes later, I thought I spotted his Honda CRV but it turned up the wrong road!

After thanking the homeowner for attempting to help me, I headed back on the shoulder of the road to continue walking home. Eventually, Steve caught up with me, pulled my bicycle into the CRV and we headed home. He explained that he could hear me on the homeowner’s phone but was frustrated that I couldn’t hear him responding.

Having failed to find the right house, he tried calling me back on my phone — which I didn’t have — and the homeowner’s cell phone. The homeowner informed Steve that I had already left his property. It was a Tower of Babel moment but I do believe the Holy Spirit interceded by bringing Steve to my rescue.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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