The word for today is balance. My bike tires are about an inch wide, and as I ride my forward momentum keeps my bicycle up, with only this tiny patch of rubber on the road. 17 cyclists look rather elegant as we glide along the Juniata river. Our balancing act was particularly important today as we rode several miles along state highway 22, with only a narrow space between the gravel and the rumble strip. I was so grateful to have Paula driving along behind us in our Volt with the flashers on, and also grateful that we all made it through safely.
Balancing on our bicycles is a good way to be in this world of natural beauty, because it reminds us of the amazing balance of nature. Wind and water, sky and tree, all function together in a beautiful pattern, one that is delicate, elegant and also in danger.
No one knows more about these natural rhythms than farmers, and we spent an hour this morning working with Micah Spicher-Schonberg to plant a field of sweet potatoes. Farmers depend on the regularity of the seasons, on gentle rains and fertile earth. But these patterns are being disrupted by carbon pollution.
We made our way to Huntingdon, for a wonderful luncheon hosted by Stone Church of the Brethren. Laura and Sharon told us about the work of their Sustainability Circle over the past 10 years and then led us to Riverside Park for an amazing event they organized on “Climate Change: Why Your Voice Matters.” About 40 people heard about the work of PA Interfaith Power & Light and Citizen’s Climate Lobby; they engaged in wonderful actions, including making prayer flags that now flap behind our bicycles.
Our ride to Orbisonia was uneventful – a snapped bungie cord here, a break for DQ there – and we got to the United Methodist Church outreach center ahead of schedule. Pastor Ed Seeley was there waiting for us with large quantities of baked spaghetti lovingly prepared by the women of the congregation (oh, and a HUGE platter of brownies!). If you come from a family of preachers, as I do, you understand that Saturday evening is a particularly busy time for clergy, but Pastor Ed generously spent an hour telling us about balance of a different kind.
Orbisonia UMC is on the edge between the wild beauty of rural PA and its dangers, and this church is in the center, laboring to keep the balance. We stay in a converted High School gymnasium that the congregation now wants to build out into a location for after school programs, bluegrass concerts, and worship. The resilience they build helps to hold families together. We listened, reflected, and prayed together – we are all connected to this rural congregation.
But right now, laughter is drifting in from the next room as the cyclists are all settling into our temporary home for the night. Jeff got things started by telling a joke, and then everyone started joining in; the youth contingent is playing spoons. Our group has already grown close over the past few days, as we have learned to depend on one another. Balance, resilience, laughter – these are the things that matter, that we must always rediscover. May your lives include a portion of the joy and camaraderie that is filling this room right now!
and all the cyclists
Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801
MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed