Written by: Crystal Anderson
There is that split second at 3am when I ask myself, “Why am I awake right now? What is going on?” Simultaneously, I realize that I need to make an early morning trip to the restroom (per usual) and that I’m shivering a bit because I may have made a poor choice of sleeping spot.
There is that follow up split second when I ask myself, “Did I really just drive nine and a quarter hours to sleep on a floor and to turn around and bike in frigid temperatures? Why didn’t I just find the closest volunteer build location and go build for a day? My work in the office and at home will pile up. And I have to break away from the ride early to get home to another commitment. Why do I have to always choose the most challenging path? Can I do this? Will I have the will to do this? What was I thinking?”
Before I even had an opportunity to answer nature’s call, I had my answer. It wasn’t a subtle answer either. It was a clear, gentle, and quiet, answer, but it also was an obvious and certain answer. I am here because I am supposed to be here – no need to ask why. Yes, I signed up for this. Yes, I can do this. And yes, I will do this. And not only will I do it, but I will enjoy it, and I will be better because of it.
What could have possibly initiated this 180? Well, after a really long blink, I simply looked up from my sleeping spot, and I can honestly say that I saw one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever seen at 3am in an unexpected place. My chosen sleeping spot was a nice, quiet, dark spot between two preschool classrooms, and unintentionally, I’d been facing an enormous plate glass wall from my sleeping spot. Through this architectural blessing, I saw a very large, mature, and beautifully shaped tree. It was ever so slightly swaying in the wind as if to wave at me. I blinked again for a really long time to be sure.
Yes, it was just ever so gently swaying. That’s when I noticed exactly how perfectly shaped it was – like a painting. What’s more, the sky was cloudy and the moonlight bounced off the numerous clouds to create a beautiful light gray sky. That was the backdrop for what looked like jet-black limbs. Small little house lights seemed to dance between the swaying limbs. I see trees all the time. How is this particular tree, this particular scene gripping my attention so tightly? Everyone who knows me knows I don’t wait for nature to call twice; I answer the first time.
So, I went to take care of my nature business, and I came back with a different attitude – without much deliberation, actually. Just going through my activities, interesting things happened. I realized some air had escaped my sleeping mat, and I breathed some new air into it. I’m so grateful to have this mat, I thought. I got into my usual sleeping position and realized I had a chill. I reached for my jacket, threw it over my shoulders, and thought, “I’m so grateful for this jacket.” As I looked up again, I thought, “I’m so grateful for a roof over my head.” I thought – this roof, this jacket, this mat – are all things for which any homeless person would be grateful.
We participate in these Fuller Center Bike Adventure bike rides, because we want to volunteer, raise money for a great cause, and remain active to maintain (or improve) our health, wellness, and longevity. We participate in these bike rides because we meet very special people on our teams and the communities and churches we visit. We participate in these bike rides because we want to help. But we also participate in these bike rides because we like to be helped ourselves.
I’m sure some people in my life will wonder why I love the outdoors so much. Nature is my church. It is where my best conversations with God take place. Last night was no exception. Yes, I’ve seen A LOT of trees in my life. But I know one thing for sure – I will never forget how much I love the tree at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Nashville, TN. Thank you to all for hosting us! And thank you, God, for continuing to converse with me, even when I don’t deserve it!
Right time. Right place. Right everything.
Oh, and search online and read “God’s Bicycle” which speaks volumes in so few words.