By Barb Arland-Fye
A wrong turn on a riverfront recreational trail a few months ago led to an accident and injuries that kept me off my bike for eight weeks. The wrong turn was the result of trying to figure out the signage on the circuitous route leading to a new bridge with a pedestrian path that I wanted to ride on.
After the injuries healed well enough to ride again, I got back on the bike but avoided the area where the accident happened. The fear of another fall and injuries curbed the joy that I experience riding my bike. My husband Steve gently encouraged me to conquer “the beast” by traveling the section of the route where I took the painful spill. For several weeks, however, I’d get close to the accident scene but turn around without passing through it.
Last Sunday, I conquered the beast. As I rode toward the accident site, with some trepidation, I recalled Steve’s guidance about the tricky route and paid close attention to the signage, which still seemed inadequate. Passing through the area, I felt a sense of relief ascending the pedestrian path on the bridge and crossed it with ease (except for the exertion required on the inclines at both ends of the bridge).
Pedaling off the bridge to another leg of the recreational trail, my fear seemed to have almost dissipated. So why was I procrastinating about turning around and heading back? In response, I turned around and rode across the bridge and onto the labyrinth-like section of the route that tested my nerves. Prayers served as both companion and encourager.
Back home, I shared the good news with Steve. Later that afternoon, I read the Scripture readings for this weekend, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The first reading, from Isaiah, and the commentator’s note in my lector workbook spoke to me. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. …” The commentator said the reading “opens with the command to ‘seek the Lord.’ Searching for the Lord is possible because he allows himself to be found, and the author says God is indeed ‘near’” (“2023 Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word”).
Prayer has been a part of my exercise routine for as long as I can remember. Even after the accident, I thanked God because the fracture to my pelvis was stable and I could still walk, my right pinky was broken but not my wrist or hand. The reading from Isaiah (55:6-9) got me to thinking about the many different ways I journey to God … and sometimes avoid the journey out of fear that God’s call may be something I am reluctant to respond to … just like some of the Old Testament prophets, initially.
That day’s bike ride was a journey to God, who guided me through uncertainty and fear to get to the other side of the bridge. How often do I journey to God in my daily life, unaware that I am searching for God through the unexpected events in life that sometimes throw me off course?
So, the journey continues, on and off my bike, journeying toward God and trusting that he will keep me from falling or pick me up after I have fallen. The consolation I feel is heavenly.
(Contact Barb Arland-Fye at email@example.com)