We scheduled a family vacation trip to Milwaukee to visit our oldest daughter, Elizabeth. She is working there and living with a friend's family over the summer. Marcella suggested I begin the trip westward on my bike, then she and Joanna (our 14 year old) would rendezvous with me at the end of the week, when they would depart from home. I was rather excited about making the ride.
I left on Monday, July 16. Our rendezvous date would be on Saturday, the 21st. How far could I get on my new Raleigh road bike in six days? Toledo, Ohio was my original goal.
I left at 5:30 am from our home in Clear Spring, arriving at the Western Maryland Rail Trail (W.M.R.T) in Big Pool at 6 am, as the rising sun was brightening up the area. I remembered back in 1998 when this trail was built, right near the parsonage where we had lived. As I rode along the black top, I remembered a day, not so long ago, when our toddler Elizabeth, was walking by my side, holding my hand . Proudly she declared, "I walk with Daddy!"
Now, I was riding this road on my way to see our young adult, college student. I hoped she will still would want to walk with Daddy through these next chapters of her life.
In Hancock, over breakfast at the truck stop, I opened my Bible to seek a word for the day. On these rides I often ask God if I am where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do. I want my life to matter, to make a difference in the world. Turning to Psalm 131, I come back to earth.
"Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me..." (Psalm 131:1-2)
What great things does a child worry over? With what grand ideas does a weaned child concern himself? Contentment in the arms of the one who loves him. When I ride, I know I am in the arms of my loving Heavenly Father.
I ride by myself, but I am never alone. And with that I am content.
After riding the 22 mile length of the WMRT from Big Pool to Pearre, I headed into dirt and rock roads toward Cumberland, which I eventually entered via Route 51. So, nice and quiet and peaceful on these back roads.
Needing water, I stopped at a little country store for a drink. Harry Shryock, owner and proprietor, invited me to sit a spell and cool off. He is a World War Two veteran, having served in Germany. He told me about those times. The German soldiers were boys just like he was.
He started his store "from scratch" in 1947 with his wife. At her passing last year, they had been married well over 60 years. He talked about about how things have changed. This current generation doesn't like to work, he said.
Then, I encountered Tiffany. When I got to my hotel in Cumberland, she checked me in. Later she called my room to be sure I was satisfied with everything. Later she personally came up to my door with a bag of snacks and a bottle of water, a special welcome gift. Harry needs to meet Tiffany.
It's a good day. I am with God and with my bike. And I am content.