Recently, I was getting ready to head out on my bike. That’s a good thing. I had met a friend “downtown” in a parking lot full of cyclists and cars with bike racks; next to the river, and park. A beautiful spot. As we prepped our gear and bikes (or KIT) as the British would say, a woman walked up to us and said hello. To be honest, I thought she was going to ask for money. It was not because she looked disheveled or needy. She was dressed fashionably, fairly young, and smiling. Why then did I think she needed money? I had seen her out of the corner of my eye erratically wandering around the lot. She had no bike, or showed no evidence of riding in a lot of riders. I wasn’t spooked; I myself talk to strangers ALL THE TIME! We exchanged hellos, and then she made a request; and not for money. “Can I give you a blessing?” she said.
What seemed like a long pause for me was nothing more than a mere nano-second (1×10(-9) or 0.000000001). I contemplated her request and before I could run out the 20 million thoughts and ideas going through my head, my friend John said “Sure, we could always use another blessing riding bikes.” I agreed and nodded my approval.
I must say, from what I can remember, her “blessing” wasn’t so much the blessing for bikes and cyclists that I thought it would be. It was more of her “personal testimony of her unending love to the object of her Earthly salvation; the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I don’t say this mockingly. I admire those who search “for a higher being.” Her “blessing” went on for a solid 5 minutes and was somewhat uncomfortable to watch and listen to, choppy, and not quite cohesive.
In the “cosmic realm of things,” maybe her “blessing” wasn’t really meant for my friend and me, or were we meant to understand it; maybe we were only there to “play a part” in someone else’s blessing?
Her eyes were closed as her hands moved in rhythm, but I sensed a “strain” in her delivery. It seemed as though she was reading from a book in her mind. Her words didn’t seem to mention my friend or me, the beautiful day of nature all around us, or the blessing of some bike safety that we might need out on the road that day. I wasn’t trying to eke out some “divine cycling intervention” for more power, speed, or endurance as I came to the quick conclusion that this blessing was more about her than us. Mentally, I was hoping she would find some peace and joy in her own words.
As she neared the end of her “blessing” her speech speed increased until her final worlds exhaled out of her mouth, ending in “Amen.” She opened her eyes and smiled. We paused for a minute and then I said “thank you.”
“Yes!! Yes!!!” She said loudly. “I made it all the way through the whole thing this time!” She then turned away with a quick step, a jump, and “fist-punched” the sky and said, “Nailed it!” An odd sentiment in a story about Jesus Christ.
I watched for a moment; my head spinning with more thoughts and ideas.
I suddenly felt cheapened, and a little annoyed.
Not because I had been cheated out of my “personal-God-given” blessing, but because, I suddenly felt like a character out of the Neil Diamond song “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” which I had been excessively repeating, over and over in my car; just some fool in a roadside circus tent listening to the “memorized spiel and empty words” of a person with no ‘real” connection to the words themselves.
Do my written words here sound bitter, cruel, and possibly sacrilegious? Yes, and I apologize for that. Is it possible that this woman found great joy and reverence in giving us her personal “blessing,” and I’m the one on the wrong side of the “enlightenment fence?” Yes, but I’m being honest.
I will say that all these thoughts did not come to me at first. They have been slowly creeping out of my mind for a few weeks; odd and disturbing thoughts, resurfaced when I saw the same woman walking through the bikes yesterday in the same lot. At the time, I wanted her “blessing” to wash over and inspire me like the tidal ocean against my bare feet at the seashore, when instead, I felt like I had walked a mile with “rocks in my boots on a sandy beach.”
She didn’t stop and talk to me yesterday. Gone in a moment. In some ways, I wish she had stopped. I have no special path to salvation, the ability to save any mortal souls, or the answers so many on this beautiful earth are looking for. All the same, myself, dangerously balancing on the “precipice of piousness,” I would have told her this; “Stop memorizing scripts, stop agonizing over verbal delivery, stop regurgitating catchphrases and empty sentiment for others.” Instead; go out and “live your faith,” talk to strangers, commune with nature, be kind. Save yourself. Simple.