Tug-of-War

It seems that for many of us, life is a constant tug-of-war. A lot of effort, but no progress. Some do not wish to pull against the forces of our culture and have already allowed themselves to be drug through the mud. Many of us, however, would like to stay out of the mud, but will not allow ourselves to let go of the rope. There is something on the other side we want. We have even convinced ourselves that we need it and we aim to pull it across for our own possession. So we waste time and energy pulling and going nowhere. We struggle but do not achieve the satisfaction of victory.

The rope pulls hard. The tug comes from almost every voice we hear. We can better what we wear, drive, own and eat; where we live, work, and travel; and how we entertain ourselves. What we currently have is out-of-date, out-of-style, out-of-order, or just outlandish and worthy of ridicule. It can be, and should be, better than it is now. It is possible and desirable to have more and more, faster and faster. All this and more convenience too. Conversations with friends and family, billboards, magazine ads, radio programming, movies, and television attack our contentment and create in us a fierce drive to get more from life. So we grab the rope and pull. Sadly, the struggle does not satisfy.

Fortunately, there is a way to be satisfied that doesn’t require this stuggle. We can completely change the way we think. We can let go of the rope and pursue something entirely different.

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

Those of us that profess to be Christians would say that we agree with this passage from 1 Timothy, Chapter 6, but most of us don’t live our lives that way. Perhaps the more spiritual among us, have been more fully “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). They simply let go of the pulling force of our perverse culture, and are content to stay clean. At some point, we have to believe that God satisfies and what this culture sells does not. As is so often the case, it is a matter of faith. May God help us trust Him, relax our grip on this world, and let it go.

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Sprung


In a moment, like the flick of a switch, the landscape has been transformed. Only two weeks ago, even in Texas, we had a half foot of snow on the ground. Today, we gasp in the midst of a wildflower explosion. The harsh, biting wind screaming across the thousand-shades-of-brown has given way to sunlight, warm breezes, and the scent of freshly mowed grass. With bare skin exposed, the commute home was supercharged by solar powered optimism and a 20 mph tailwind.


Yee-haw.

Clowning Around

I forgot to pack the camera and this post almost…wasn’t…because I know how much you people want pictures. But for the record, it should be said that the clown bike traveled. The Texas Tikit traveled to Tennessee.

At the airport baggage claim, the bike arrived, but my clothes did not. So I filed my claim, went to the hotel, unpacked the bike, and went for a ride. I might have been a little more stressed about the missing clothes bag if it weren’t for the distraction of having a bike to ride (the other bag was delivered to the hotel later that night). The air pressure in the tires was a little low and I was dressed in non-cycling clothes, but me and Mr. Clown Bike made our way up some pretty big, steep hills. I just put it in low gear and kept spinning until I reached the top. I’m guessing I did about 45 minutes of slow climbing and fast descents. Little bike rolls over big obstacles.

When I returned to the hotel, the shuttle driver praised the bike. When I offered it to him to ride, he grinned and took it around the parking lot. Seeing this man, older than me, who said he hadn’t been on a bike in years, pedaling around in his hotel uniform with a big grin on his face was good medicine.

After teaching all day, I went out again this afternoon. I mostly climbed the same hills and did another 45 minutes or so. Not terribly fast, not very far, but I rode my bicycle. I was outside, doing something, exercising, and refreshing my mind.

The weather forecast says it might rain tomorrow. If it doesn’t, I’ll get another ride. If it does, I’ll simply pack it up and be grateful for 1.5 hours of riding I would not have had otherwise on this trip.

So, in summary, I might have been “just clowning around”, but I guess I pedaled right over more than one kind of obstacle this week.

Winter Lingers

The themometer said 21.7 degrees this morning and snow was still on the ground. Bright sunshine was pouring across the eastern horizon and, with it, hope of warmer temperatures. Waiting for a more comfortable opportunity to get on the bike, errands and household chores were given first priority. During the mid-afternoon and the warmest part of the day (low 40’s), we rolled out.

Much of the snow was melted by that time, but there were several patches here and there. After a couple of days of being a little disoriented in my own backyard, the white stuff regressed and the familiar landscape became more apparent. Snow melt runoff increased the level of local creeks.

Oh, by the way, if you pedal across a bridge on a bicycle, you can still hear it gurgling by…and even on short rides, senses are tickled by a thousand other things not available to the inside of a car.

Try it sometime.

The Purpose of the Bicycle

People ride bicycles for many different reasons. For some, it is a pure leisure activity and the bike is incidental to enjoying a fine afternoon. Some view their bikes as transportation tools and commute to work, run errands, or both. For others, it is more serious and involves a strict training regimen with speed its principle objective. Another segment of cyclist fall somewhere in the middle and ride for fitness purposes and long, endurance rides. There are many objectives and the bicycle can be used as an effective tool to achieve them. But what about those who ride for the simple pleasure of the sensation of the ride?

For most, perhaps, the bicycle is a tool to accomplish some other objective. Whether it is speed and glory, fitness, weight control, and health benefits, a means of getting from one place to another, or a way to see the neighborhood or the country, the bike is often a means to an end. On the other hand, as the old “Zen” saying goes for bicycling, “I ride my bike to ride my bike”.

“Miles per hour” is not the point and even “miles” are not the goal.

It’s about “hours”. Anything else is a bonus.

Hope

One of the things I admire about my wife is her hope. She understands anticipation for better things to come. She is patient with less-than-optimal situations and has confidence that doing the right things today, will make the future a better place when we get there. Her hope is evident in many ways. Some might say that explains a lot about why she married me. Our homestead, however, was the example I had in mind.

Here lately, a few days of warmer temperatures have manifested themselves and she was quick to leap into action. She created the “five-tree-grove” by relocating five Vitex plants from too near the house to the south side of the house.


Here at the end of winter, it is a bunch of sticks. Hopes says, it’ll be a shady grove one day.

In addition, she finally enjoyed the completion of the “backyard” fence. That means that the entire backyard is enclosed and will keep the furry rascals contained. More importantly, that means that she isn’t forced to take four, or five, or six dogs outside on leashes and stand in the cold while they each try to find just the right place to “go”. At least they’d have you think that is their plan. In reality, I suspect that they are quite skilled at tying sophisticated knots and enjoy creating bird’s nest tangles for us to sort out while they snicker to one another and snooze on my bed.


Here is the final segment of the fence, the craftsman, two leashless dogs, and one happy woman.