Cycling trip, Day 3

Organizing a bike trip like this at the end of a semester is a bit of a stressor – it would be easier if I were on my own, but being responsible for two others and for making various arrangements has been tough. Don’t get me wrong – Peter and Kris are great companions, and so many friends and relatives have sent in good thoughts and prayers and donations that it has been overwhelming, but it really is a lot of work.
In fact, I had not realized the burden I was carrying until I let it go – this morning right in church. Toward the end of the service, Pastor Ed called for people to come forward to receive healing prayer. One member did, and folks surrounded her, putting their hands on her shoulders while the pastor anointed her forehead and prayed over her. It was a touching scene of support, and then he turned to us and asked us to come down to the front of the church.
And so the three of us did – stood in front of the pastor while all these people, perfect strangers, placed their hands on us while pastor prayed: for a safe journey, for our message of caring for God’s creation to be successful, for us to light up the hearts and souls of people we would meet along the way. I wept and embraced these complete strangers who were now to me like members of my own family.
The Methodist church of Orbisonia is a small church in a small town, like so many throughout Pennsylvania and the country. People are struggling, skeptical of outsiders and of politicians. Yet they are reaching out. They have acquired the old High School gym and converted part of it into an outreach center – they’re looking for $400,000 to complete the job.  It’s a beautiful dream, and I hope in a small way that PA IPL can help. Already Peter, in his matter-of-fact engineer way, has identified several ways that they can save hundreds of dollars a year in electrical costs (and carbon).  Just taking out the air conditioners during the winter, for example, would save a tremendous amount.
We arrived there as strangers and left as more than friends – that is what this trip is all about. Of course, the weather agreed, turning sunny and warm. Our ride out of Orbisonia was breathtakingly beautiful – through Shade Gap and Cowan’s Gap. Easy grades and gorgeous scenery – nothing better. We ate our lunch under the maple trees of Mountain View elementary school, even took a nap midday.  Somehow, though, the first 25 miles seemed so much easier than the second 25 miles. By 4, we were hallucinating about ice cream and finding the uphills so much longer than the downhills.
Peter and I were sure that Kris was underestimating the mileage…  But his directions held true and we finally arrived at the beautiful home of our hosts, Rev. Dennis and Linda Beaver, to a warm welcome, a hot shower and a cold beer!
Pastor Dennis is at the Evangelical Lutheran church in Waynesboro, but lives north of town. We’ll see the church tomorrow and visit with some members over breakfast. Already, we have shared many stories and many laughs – made all the more pleasant by Linda’s excellent lasagna. I feel full, well-fed, both physically and spiritually. I went on this trip to help others, but find that I’m the one who is being given so very much.
I wish for all of you a goodly measure of the grace that has surrounded us during this trip.
Jon (Kris and Peter)