It's a glorious day. I'm home and showered after completing my Sunday-after-church mountain bike ride at Kerr Scott Dam. I did the old standby: Overmountain Trail inclusive of Shiner's Gap, then back for an 18 mile day.
But on this occasion, things were better than good. It was my first mountain bike ride in over two months and six weeks since I blew out my shoulder in a crash (the 10 minute test ride en route to blowing shoulder didn't count). I started out slow and tenuous, uptight and nervous. Didn't even clip in my left/plant foot for several miles. The woods at first intimidated, but then reverted to the welcoming environment I remember. Most of the run off is dirt with lush leaves piled on top; that's a ton more forgiving than the rock piles at Rocky Knob in Boone.
I like to ride and daydream and the warm fall sunshine was conducive for that mission. But daydreams turned to prayer, which turned to Thanksgiving. And then God stopped by to visit. I'm wired to be dependent on God and when He gives me word or two, I listen. Today, He told me He's taking back my marble bag.
Prior to Pac-Man and Pong and Xbox, a staple element of play was marbles. Competition ensued; if you could use a shooter to knock a marble out of the circle, it was yours. Amassing marbles was a sign of prowess. Know what I have in my adult marble bag? All of the possessions and blessings I think I own. God decided to take my bag and examine what I had. What I thought I owned, He took. And things I didn't think I had, He added.
God also showed genuine interest by asking a few questions while I traversed the trail:
"Tommy, I noticed you didn't buy that Giant Anthem and are still riding your Gary Fisher Cobia. How's that working for you?"
"Why Lord, I appreciate you asking," I replied. " That (insert friendly word here) Giant slapped me on the rocks and busted my shoulder. I'm back on my Cobia and love it. The old fashioned friction discs make me feel safe, because I drag the brakes a lot while I ride and they never lock up. It feels just right for me. This bike is perfect for my abilities."
"Tommy, you're riding really slow today, you're very cautious. What's up with that?"
"Lord, it's not about the speed," I was surprised to hear myself say. "I'm thankful to be back on the trail, thankful that I'm into a great ride I took for granted. I was going for faster and better but now I'm just happy to be on two wheels."
I'm pretty sure God said a few other things and had several additional questions. But instead of words, God once again became part of nature and enveloped the woods around me. Where I go, God walks with me. Thank you Lord. On this day, God may have taken a few aggies, but he gave me a pearl.