This past week, I was in St. Charles, Missouri. I rented a bike in order to ride on the Katy Trail. The Katy Trail is a 237-mile rails-to-trail extending across most of the state of Missouri. It is the longest such trail in the country. Over half the trail's length follows the path taken by Lewis and Clark up the Missouri River.
I was only looking for a couple hours of exercise which was all I could handle, because after 45 minutes my rear-end was killing me. I rode out of St. Charles for one hour, turned around, and began to make my way back to the shop where I rented the bike.
I was riding at a slow pace, trying to keep my mind off of my lack of fitness when I suddenly heard a voice from behind me. “Can I ride with you for a little bit?” I turned to see a woman decked out in proper riding gear coming up behind me. It was easy to distance on the trail so I said, “Sure.”
We had a lovely conversation as we rode. She told me about her life goal of doing an extensive bike ride in every state. She rode in Arkansas the previous day and in Texas prior to that. I tried to make it look like I was pedaling effortlessly as I struggled desperately to keep up.
When we got to the place where I needed to peel off, we said our goodbyes. By that time, my leg muscles were on fire. She thanked me for allowing her to ride with me. I was tempted to tell her, with all the male bravado I could muster, that I wish we could have gone another hour and at a faster pace, but I didn’t.
She explained how sharing the road and engaging in conversation helps her to persevere while she rides. That made me feel good. I was only with her a short time, but as inadequate as I felt as a riding mate, I played some small role in helping her reach her destination.
That experience reminded me what a difference it can make to accompany another person through difficulty. I invite you, as the pandemic stretches on, to think about ways you can accompany another person, even for a short time. It might make a world of difference.
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.