Rector's Ramblings July 1, 2020
We thoroughly enjoyed getting away for a week last week. As we do most years, we spent time in Saluda, NC, enjoying the mountains, which turns out to be a pandemic-friendly setting. We don’t typically eat out much when we’re there, so we didn’t miss that (we did eat outdoors at one of our favorite breweries, where the closest table was twenty-five feet away!). And despite being busy season for tourists, we really didn’t encounter many people on the trails we used. Lest you think we’re like so many of the tourists who seem to be visiting St. Simons, we took our masks everywhere and followed distancing guidelines. There too, it seems to be rare, at least based on the people that thanked us for doing it. Apparently, people think taking a vacation means taking a vacation from the pandemic. It doesn’t work that way, but I digress.
This was the first year we were able to mountain bike as a family. Our girls both learned to ride since we moved to Georgia, but mountain biking doesn’t really offer much around here. In fact, these were the first “real hills” our kids have had to manage since they lost their training wheels. I grew up on hills, literally. My entire elementary school era involved riding uphill from our home that was situated in a small valley between two steep hills. If you didn’t/couldn’t ride hills, you didn’t go anywhere.
The girls loved mountain biking. They like to ride anyway, and we ride all over the Island as a family. They liked the mud and the speed down hills – all of it. The only thing they didn’t like was the wrecks. Both of them managed to wreck at least once. Nothing major. Some scrapes and cuts, but nothing head-related or requiring more than a band-aid. We have one bruise and brush that hasn’t faded yet, but it seems more like a badge of honor at this point than an injury. In both cases, we weren’t down for long. The rider in question hopped back on their bike and were on our way. That’s part of mountain biking!
Resiliency is a Purdy family trait, as it turns out. We’ve had injuries before, and our girls have always handled them well. I remember when we hiked in Scotland a few years ago and Eva hiked something like 8 miles on what turned out to be a sprained ankle. Even so, I was proud of my girls when they brushed themselves off and got back to pedaling. Resiliency is a good thing, and it’s hard to teach. I suppose we’ve always forced them to keep such things in perspective. We treat injuries and console when there are tears, but we’ve never indulged in long bouts of commiseration over skinned knees and bruises.
I think this is how I was raised. Neither my parents nor my grandparents overdid it when we hurt ourselves. There was always appropriate sympathy, drying of tears, mending of wounds, and then it was time to keep going. Falling off the bike was not confined to learning to ride the way my brother and I rode bikes. I had not seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome back then, but let’s just say that movie comes to mind when I remember how we rode bikes. All of that experience taught me about resiliency, and I didn’t even know it.
The truth is that we need such lessons to get through life. There are lots of ways in which we have to find a way to move forward without training wheels. Bumps, bruises, and scrapes are part of the process. How we manage those can make all the difference. Now, I’m not saying all bumps are the same. I once got a concussion from a bike wreck, and we took that much more seriously. The small ones are the ones that can take some practice, though. We can pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off from the little stuff, or we can let them transform into something much larger and disruptive. At my best I’m a “dust off” sort, but I do have my moments.
One of the benefits of an active spiritual life is that it often aids us in our resiliency. Things don’t always go as well as we want them to, and we do get knocked around a bit in life. Prayer can help us keep things in perspective and let go of the things we can. God’s love is important for the small things, not just the big ones. We are watched over and cared for constantly. Being reminded of that can be the difference between getting back up or getting lost in our self-centered reactions when find ourselves on the ground one way or another. Our Sunday gospels the last few weeks have let us hear Jesus’ warning that there would be bumps along the way, but also that he would be with us. I recommend riding with Jesus every bit as much as wearing a helmet. Now all I have to do is figure out when our next mountain biking lesson will take place!
O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of
refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our
leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our
spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.