Every mile mattered ~ all 527 of them. For within each pedal, I found the beauty of the human spirit and the nature of God’s creation all wrapped up into one. I rode many trails this summer. All of them were a little different, yet still very much the same.
I noticed it first on Dawkins Trail. It’s a long trail that used to be a railroad track and runs about 20 feet from my in-laws house. I could think of nothing better on my first weekend after school ended, than to take a long ride in the eastern hills of Kentucky.
It didn’t take long on that trail to see it. A community that had been ravaged a few years ago by a tornado, had suddenly found its spirit again. The sun glistened off the trees and a breeze ran down the trail.
I would see them standing in their yards.
I would pass them riding their horses.
I would wonder if I smiled, would they smile to.
So I did. I smiled at every human being I encountered (and even a deer and a sly fox that bolted into the bushes). I started to approach it like a game. I would smile and wait to see how long it would take for them to smile back. With every smile I received, I wanted to give ten more.
I rode 50 miles that weekend and I realized something. I could ride 50 more. I set a goal to ride 500 miles on a variety of trails over the summer. Of course there were health benefits, but at the core of my motivation was the opportunity to enjoy God’s country and his people.
This weekend I hit mile #527. I accomplished something I never thought I would want to do. Even so, every mile mattered ~ all 527 of them, but the last 15 were rode with more intention than the others.
This Saturday, I rode miles #513 - #527. Six years ago, I was named the principal of Cleveland High School. When I found out, I was so shocked and scared, I jumped on my bike and rode 15 miles. Since then it’s become an annual tradition for some reflection and goal-setting before I start each school year.
Saturday, with each mile I pedaled, I thanked God for blessing me with the gift of a job that I don’t deserve and am blessed to serve. I set one goal on that ride.
Be more present.
The 2015-16 school year is upon us. I am sure time won’t allow as many miles to be ridden. What time does allow for is joy. I want to make eye contact, shake hands, and engage more. I want to hear their stories and know their dreams.
And of course, I want to smile.