Wednesday, August 25, 2010

“Finishing and Re-Entry”

When we rolled into Grand Rapids, awaiting us at Jaycee McKay Park were a stream of AJS supporters and a TV camera crew from WZZM Channel 13. Brent Ashcroft, WZZM’s newscaster, asked me very plainly, “So, how does it feel to be finished?” I said that it was a very surreal feeling, “not unlike many of the things we’d experienced on the ride.”

The reality is that, yes, I have stopped pedaling on this journey of what has turned out to be a little more than 2,800 miles. But in no way am I “finished.” There is so much work to be done for social justice causes across the U.S. and the globe. How could I ever be finished?

The word that kept batting around in my head the last few days of the ride was “resurrection.” We know as Christians that the spirit of Jesus did not die on the cross with his body. His life and love and faith in everlasting life knows no ending. So, my challenge is to find new ways and continual ways to glorify Him in my daily life. His message of love and perseverance has not been left on the side of some desolate country road that I traversed this summer but it resides within me and it is my mission to continue to live this message out loud, in bold and brave ways, not to keep it secret within me.

Now that I am back in Seattle, nearly two weeks after completing the ride, I recognize that the more than five weeks that I have been away bicycling across America, have created a “re-entry” problem for me. I might as well have been in orbit around the Earth or moon these past several weeks. I have gone from the hectic, chaotic, professional life of a college law and business professor with all of its demands of prep, grading, teaching, advising and attending meetings, to the life of a long distance bicyclist.

Life on a bicycle traveling across country has a way of distilling all things down to their essence. I exhale. I inhale. I sweat and feel it coat the inside of the back of my jersey or run down the bridge of my nose. I replenish fluids and absent mindedly refuel by eating anything I can pull out of my back pocket: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some trail mix, a half-devoured Power bar. I pedal some more. And, at the end of the day I eat and drink more and shower and sleep. A shower never felt so good. And, still, I am aware that running water endlessly is a luxury that the vast majority of my Honduran brothers and sisters do not share.

And, my “simple life” on the road leaves me with many choices at the end of the day. I can sleep in the comfort of our support vehicle-- blow up an air mattress and rest with air conditioning or set up a tent outside and zip out the insects as I dream safely until daybreak or roll back the sheets and puff up a pillow in the bed of one of our many host families. In any event, I have a comfortable place to call home for the night.

And, here I am on August 10th in Seattle, “finished” with Steve’s Just Ride. Now, “simple” things like a shower, a real bed or a plate of hot pancakes are not as significant as they were on the ride. Now, I am aware that our condo has a different smell than the wild grassland in South Dakota or that the pile of mail and bills and tending to my 88 year-old father take precedence over the next historical road marker, the white stripe at the side of the road or the desire for a milkshake the size of my head.

Yes, I am finished pedaling for this ride. But, nothing is the same. Yes, this is my same home, my same desk and computer, my same community, same roads, friends, even my same clothes. And, I am not the same. Some part of me is still out on the road in the high plains of Montana, the Black hills and Badlands of South Dakota or the corn and soybean fields of Iowa. Or, maybe a part of them has been permanently imbibed by me, permanently scored into my DNA.

I guess that is just fine because it means that I will never forget all of our incredibly generous hosts: the Hansons, the Huysers, the Hamiltons, the Astrups, the Van de Brakes, the Talmas, the Jerozals, the VerBeeks, the Goorhouses and Van Engens. There were also so many churches of multiple denominations that let us park the RV and/or pitch a tent nearby. All of your kindness, generosity and warmth made this mission to support AJS’s efforts to attain social justice in Honduras possible and fueled us for the longer mission ahead which is making a lasting difference for all who are victims of the corrupt and powerful.

God bless all of you. I will forever be indebted to you for reminding me that the mission of this ride is far from finished.

© 2010 Steve McCloskey-- All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Steve, well put my friend.

    The journey to a more just,fair, and compassionate society whether in Honduras, in our neighborhoods, in our world goes on each day. Hopefully we have encouraged others to do something in their own way in their journey through life.

    The slogan on my AJS t-shirt "Love Fearlessly, Do Justice" takes on new meaning each time I reflect on it. We are called to love others and seek justice in ways that may not be comfortable or easy. I agree our ride for AJS has changed my DNA.

    Thanks for leading the way and encouraging me to be part of the ride.

    Your peddling partner, Pete