Bicycling Magazine can be a place of spiritual revelation. Really. Take the latest issue (July 2007): in an article called "The Weekly Worlds", describing the best 25 group rides in the country, there's a sidebar article on signs of novice riders in the pack. The first tell-tale sign has to do with white knuckles: "The faster the pace, the whiter your knuckles become. Death-gripping the handlebar is a sure sign of anxiety...If you worry about crashing or getting dropped, you're going to ride that way." The solution? According to the writer, good form follows function. Anxious riders need to consciously relax their hands, shoulders, and jaw. This prompts the mind-body connection to de-stress and leads to a more, fluid, supple, responsive ride. The writer even recommends periodically drumming your fingers against the handlebar.
It's a metaphor for the disciple, seeking to follow Jesus: in life's uncertainties, with the threat of illness, tragedy, unemployment, random violence, and the like, it's easy for us to get white knuckles, to grip the handlebar of life too tightly, go rigid, and make things much worse. The loose grip of trust--in which we remember that though we're not in ultimate control, Jesus is--is the way to ride through life. Spiritual disciplines, such as regular prayer, Bible reading, worship, and Christian community, are ways to loosen our tight grip, to drum our fingers against the handlebars, relax, and remind ourselves that life is like an epic ride and that Jesus rides before us, even if the fog and twilight obscure him from view. Clenched up? Take a deep breath, smile, loosen your grip--and know that Jesus will never let you go.
i also think it's interesting that the author doesn't say, "let go of the handle bars completely."
in even the most difficult times, life is not a "footprints" poem. god is with along side us, but we still have to hold on (persevere). we still have to pedal (move forward), we still have to steer (make choices).
Oh, man, you guys are sooo sharp! And your metaphors are spot-on. Thanks. This may sound arrogant or may sound humble, or both, but I actually am much more relaxed in my life of faith than I am riding in a paceline! Humm....
Thanks John and Steve, for sharing your thoughts. I suspect that I like cycling for many reasons, including the fact that it is full of metaphors for life! I'll be back in future posts reflecting on this--and will value your insights!
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