By Barb Arland-Fye
Sunny skies appeared to be giving way to storm clouds but I ventured out on my bike anyway, hoping to get in a quick ride before the rain fell. My husband, Steve, doing yard work, advised me to check the National Weather Service forecast before heading out. Because I didn’t follow his advice, I unknowingly headed into the direction of the brewing rainstorm!
The sky grew darker as I pedaled north into Princeton and an occasional rumble of thunder seemed like a hint from God to turn around. But sun poked out of the clouds across the Mississippi River near Cordova, Ill., so I pushed on a little farther. Then rain drops hit my helmet. My iPhone, tucked into a belt around my waist, was not waterproofed. I turned around and pedaled as swiftly as possible but realized the rainstorm was faster. I stopped to pull out my phone and call Steve.
Just as he answered, an SUV pulled up. A mom in the front passenger seat (her name is Kim, I later learned) asked if I needed a ride home. Yes, I responded gratefully. Her husband (Tim) got out of the SUV to load the bike into the back of the vehicle. He removed the front tire to make the bike fit, not bothered a bit by doing that task in the rain.
Tim and Kim chose to stop and offer a ride to a stranger, making room in their full vehicle (four kids sat in the middle and back rows of the SUV). Kim climbed into the back seat and encouraged me to sit in the front seat. Their graciousness put me at ease. They live in Bettendorf and had taken a family outing to an event that unfortunately got rained out. They were driving along the Mississippi River, heading back home, when they spotted me, the stranded bicyclist fumbling with my iPhone.
When we arrived at my house, Tim got out of the SUV, carefully took my bike out of the vehicle and placed the front wheel back on. It turns out he enjoys bicycling, too. Tim was concerned when he saw me by the side of the road because he said the weather conditions make it difficult for motorists to see bicyclists. He asked me if I had a stationary bike, which I do (an ancient one). He used his stationary bike this past winter, which has a computer program to simulate actual riding conditions, but he admitted it’s not the same as riding outdoors.
Around this time last year, another motorist stopped by the road to help me out when my bicycle would not stay secured to my car. In a world so bitterly divided and with people so inexplicably angry with one another on every issue, God provides these wonderful opportunities to celebrate the goodness that still exists in humankind.
In his Gospel reflection for May 18, Bishop Robert Barron observed that “we sometimes forget that we are all interconnected. How do we often identify ourselves? Almost exclusively through the naming of relationships: we are sons, brothers, daughters, mothers, fathers, members of organizations, or members of the Church.”
God brought Tim and Kim into my life, if just for 15 minutes, to reinforce that sense of interconnectedness and not to “ding me” for making a dumb decision to head out on my bike into a rainstorm.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)