Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wrapped in Hope and Patience

i see skies of blue
clouds of white
bright blessed days
dark sacred nights
and I think to myself
what a wonderful world

Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World, What a Wonderful World

Church, St. Francois Xavier, Manitoba

I managed a ride to St. Francois Xavier the other day.  It was a blustery day with the winds blowing hard on my side for much of the way.  Crossing the perimeter bridge off Roblin Boulevard I was up high and completely exposed to  intense gusts.  I pulled in behind a couple of riders and watched their bodies listing port as the wind blew from the right side.  They were leaning a dangerous 50 degrees from plumb and riding slow motion hard into the wall of swirling winds. A rider came fast from behind, suddenly, brilliantly, then was gone from sight... a strong rider with calves thick and hard, a young rider with speed on his mind. 

We are vulnerable to the elements, the wind and the sun.  Airborne dust and sand in the face, breathing evenly, focussed on cadence, concentrating on staying upright and in the saddle.  Buttocks aching, calves pumping, bike tuned to perfection.  What a wonderful moment, what a wonderful world.

The church is my sanctuary. I have visited it often, never entering, always reverent and respectful. I sit on the steps, quietly with water and snack. It welcomes me like a warm blanket, wrapping me in hope and patience.The tombstones are well kept and old... old like the town, old like the church, old like we will become. I am struck with the perfect whiteness of the clouds, the wind swept tree, the Franz Marc blue of the sky, and I think of bright blessed days.

The return was into the wind.  At times I was crawling with teeth clenched and back bent over the frame. It was a hard ride, a real slog measured in inches. I slowed my mind to match my cadence and I drifted into the searing wind. Time slowed and with it came a peace that matched the wind in its intensity.  The gear ratio was down low, granny gear, and it felt wonderful.  

My legs pumping, calves smooth and pain free, breathing evenly.  Thoughts swirled through my mind like the dust vortex by my side.  Good thoughts, sad thoughts, swept away with the north wind. Gone and forgotten.  

It's a good day to be alive.