“Are you okay?” the grey-haired man asked as I propped my bike against a hedge outside his yard.
“Yes,” I said continuing to open the map on my phone. “Is this the way to Twin Lakes Road?”
“No. You need to go that way,” he said pointing the direction I’d come from.
I didn’t like his answer, didn’t like the way the app and my fingers weren’t cooperating, but the fact became increasingly clear. I’d taken a wrong turn again.
“That means I have to go back up that hill,” I sighed, feeling my age.
“It’s not that bad,” said the man who was older than me.
He was right about that, too. Once I got onto the crest by Oliver Mountain, it was a nice scoot down on Willowbrook, shaded by trees with views of rolling hills, farms and ranches. Seven kilometers later, I passed the corner where I should have turned right and hoped Fred saw my text.
Up ahead, I glimpsed a mother bear and three small cubs ambling across the road. I got off my bike and signaled the approaching car behind me to stop. With a sense of wonder and mild trepidation, I watched them disappear into the bushes.
During the next forty kilometres, up into the arid hills by White Lake, past the golf course on Twin Lakes Road, and down into Keremeos, I had a lot of time to think about wrong turns.
A few days before, Fred dropped me off in Summerland. I planned to bike to our campsite just north of Oliver, a fast fifty kilometre ride. At Okanagan Falls, I wanted to bypass a section of highway, but I took McLean Creek Road instead of continuing on Maple. Nothing looked familiar. I certainly didn’t remember it being this hilly when I rode it last year. Finally, I came to what I thought would be the highway. Instead, I was back on Eastside Road. I texted Fred: Took a wrong turn. Leaving OK Falls again.
Then there was the decision of where to camp. “Maybe when we see the temperature is going to be in the thirties, we should choose a cooler location,” I said to Fred as we fled from our campsite in the heat of the day.
I thought about all that as I rode to Keremeos. I figured out what I would do next time, so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes.
And yet. I’d wanted to know what it was like to bike the McLean loop. If I hadn’t gone left instead of right at the top of Secrest, I wouldn’t have seen the bears. And if we hadn’t camped at Inkaneep Provincial Park, we wouldn’t have gotten to know the family of quails that lived there. Only after the parents felt secure did they allow their tiny offspring to come out and feed in our campsite.
Our feelings are like those little chicks. They only come out when it feels safe, and Mama and Papa God are watching out for us.
So now, as I write this post, a tender fear comes out from the bushes. I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’m doing it wrong–“it” being my relationship with others, with God, and life in general.
As I listen to this familiar fear, I think about the gifts my “wrong” turns gave me. I think about the man who came out of his house to point the way. I think about what I shared at the end of this year’s Living from the Heart.
Each person’s offering was touching. Tears came easily. The word “trust” pushed itself into my awareness. So when it was my turn to speak, I said I trusted their journey with God.
Now God was asking me, “Can you trust yours? Can you trust Me to meet you when you can’t get there the way you’re going? Can you trust Me to get you safely across the road? Can you trust Me to be the safe place for your fragile feelings?”
A yes rises in my heart like a cyclist ascending the height of land. The view from here is magnificent and the ride down cool and effortless.
God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,”
–Hebrews 13:6 (The Message)
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