Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The Last Word
If I don't write this now, I probably won't. It seems a bit premature to be reflecting, because my head is still spinning. Allow me some final thoughts and ramblings, and then this blog will officially close until the next great adventure.
Remember back when I wrote that this was crazy? How about the post where I thought 87km was a really, really long distance, and I was exhausted? I've re-read those posts, and they make me smile. I shared them with the cycling guru last week, and he thought they were pretty funny too.
I took a risk this summer, devoting 9 weeks (and a million training/prep hours) to a task I wasn't sure I liked. I like it, I still like it! I love risk taking, and I'm glad I did it.
I suppose one of the worst lessons I learned this summer is that you can do anything you put your mind to. That's a dangerous lesson, and I should probably rephrase it. I feel incredibly blessed/fortunate/protected/lucky that I was able to ride every day with very little incident (okay, those flats...). I started a list of the things that could have gone wrong, ranging from personal injury, complete exhaustion, accidents, and bike malfunction. None of it happened to me, and I was able to complete the task I set out to. Every Fun Inch. Praise be!
People ask if the experience turned out to be what I expected. Of course the answer is both yes and no. Yes, it was incredible, and I had high expectations. It was a physical challenge, and an opportunity to see great things along the way. Seeing creation at 27km/hr was amazing, and even more amazing when zooming past it at 75.3km/hr. Still so proud of that! Obviously there were challenging days, and I hope that I conveyed those accurately on these pages.
I thought I'd have more time and space for reflection and quiet time, both on and off the bike. On the bike I feel as though my mind simply emptied, rather than thought, and I liked it. I don't often clear my mind.
I didn't expect to be so challenged by the presence of other people. I struggled often with the presence of the crowd, much to the amusement of the friends who drew close. I keep blaming "that awful spring" but also admitted toward the end of the summer that maybe I'm just a selfish hermit when it comes to space and time.
With regards to the friends who drew close, I didn't expect them either. Amazing people, and I miss them terribly this week. Sometimes when I approach an adventure of this kind, I know that I will have to say farewell, and I don't necessarily want to let people in. And then they just sort of force their way in and you are a better person because of it. (ahemChristyahem).
What is the legacy of this journey? I can think of three very tangible things. The first is that the generosity of so many ($15 917.83) has convicted me. I have been challenged to give more generously to a wider range of organizations and to my church.
The second is a gentle, persistent reminder that the poor are always with us. It is easy to get caught up in my own kingdom work at a Christian school and forget to be present in my community. I am still sorting this out, and deciding what that challenge looks like for the coming year.
The last legacy, or lesson, is that I have an incredibly supportive, and loving church family. I surprised everyone (including myself) by showing up on Sunday morning after driving through the night. There were hugs and tears, and so much love. When we cycled in to town on August 9 I felt like a rock star. God has given me an incredible church family.
And so as the t-shirt pictured above reminded me all summer, I did something beautiful. And now I box it all up, go back to work and dream about my next adventure. Thanks, all.