A Call Day Celebration

Today was “Call Day.” So I rode my bike.

Okay, I ride my bike pretty much every day. Today’s route was one that I have ridden scores of times before: West on Clayton to Conway, past 141 north into some swanky subdivision, down Hog’s Hollow, a screaming descent into the Missouri River valley, around Creve Couer Lake, up out of the valley and back to campus on Midland. Just short of 40 miles and two hours. This ride features all that St. Louis cycling has to offer. SUV and Prius dodging near the Galleria shopping mall, short but leg-bustingly steep climbs, flat-as-a-pancake bike paths, and, best of all, the prevailing wind from the west that pushes you home.

I’ve done this ride scores of times, but only a handful of times alone. More often another cyclist is with me, a student out for a workout, guys from the CSL collegiate team training for a race, occasionally another faculty member. In addition to miles I’ve accumulated memories on this route. Taking shelter from a flash thunderstorm/hurricane under a shelter in Creve Couer park, rain coming in sideways, us in our lycra and six-year-olds in their party dresses and hats. Stopping to wait while a student’s wife came to pick him up because he just couldn’t reach the tailwind part of the ride. Grinning at the groaning while new cyclists ground their way up Marine Drive. Being pleasantly shocked when someone beat me to the top of the final climb.

I didn’t really ride alone today. Between the hills, and the training intervals, and the cars that wanted to push me off the road there was time to think. To flush the brain of stuff that doesn’t matter and recall the stuff that does. Some of those fellow cyclists received calls and placements today; many fellow cyclists received calls and placements on this day in years past. Some of them I saw over the last couple of weeks at pastors’ conferences of various kinds; I even got to ride with a few of them again.

So I did not ride alone today. I was sharing in the unity of the baptized, the partnership of the Gospel, a unity and partnership that we experienced and lived out, at least partially, on bikes. Real people, breathing real air, soaked with real sweat, sharing a new reality in Christ. Today’s ride was a prayer for and with those heading out, and those already out. Servants of Christ who connect in their own way in their own places with real people, and share in the unity of the baptized and the partnership of the Gospel with thousands, tens of thousands, whatever their route. Speaking real words, pouring real water, handing out real bread to eat and wine to drink. The Spirit blows when and where he wills; this day I pray that he blow always at your back, farther and stronger than you ever thought possible.

Today was Call Day. So I rode my bike.

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