The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


On the Blue Ridge Parkway

'A few days on a bicycle in the mountains teaches proud people like me the spiritual gift of humility'

For the past 15 Mays I’ve had the pleasure of taking a five-day bicycle trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway with eight male friends—an artist, a college professor, a doctor, a seminary professor, a health-food store owner and three attorneys. We’ve ridden north to Roanoke, Va., and south to Asheville, N.C., from a starting point in southwest Virginia, logging well over 3,000 miles of mountain travel and countless feet of elevation change.

It would be hard to measure the spiritual value of this trip for my pastor’s soul. With fully loaded bikes, we’ve climbed mountains with names such as Groundhog, Pisgah, Grandfather, Mitchell, Chestoa and Craggy in a slow, Zen-like crawl that taxes breath, heart and posterior. Lingered over wildflowers such as columbine, lady’s slipper, Solomon’s seal, flame azalea, crested dwarf iris, fire pink and trillium. Clandestinely plunged into waterfalls and skinny-dipped in various public bodies of water when no one was looking. Listened to owls, towhees, indigo buntings, redwing blackbirds and various warblers. Observed deer, beaver, wild turkey, bear and raccoons hunting for a late-night snack. We’ve even pulled off a nine-man “lap sit” under a full moon in the middle of a Parkway field.

There is the bike, the road and the mountains. And, of course, there is God.

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