I cannot wait to catch you all up on each day's progress, but I must wait a while longer to do that (and I will, don't worry!). However, I do have some exciting, yet sad news to share. My journey on bicycle has come to an end.
Today, Tom and I rode from our hosts in Alexandria, VA to his grandparents' city, Rockville, MD. In particular, we ended at the UPS Store and shipped our trusty steeds of 45 days back home to Colorado. I was definitely a little apprehensive when I saw my bike - all taken apart and nonfunctional - ready to be packed. Hehe, I don't want to think I've become attached to an otherwise inanimate object, but it was almost like leaving behind a pet that your parents told you you couldn't have any more. I stole just one glance behind me as I walked away, so I'm not too bad, you see ;). I believe that because I've spent so much time on those two wheels (45 days and probably near 200 hours) and depended upon it for so much (1800 miles of travel) that I really didn't want to leave it behind. I need to adjust to the "normal," faster modes of transportation again.
So, my bicycle journey is over. But, my spiritual journey will never end, so long as I desire to continue. There are several reasons for ending bicycling before Buffalo, NY. I first realized that D.C. could be the end of bicycling last Sunday at Tom's Aunt and Uncle's house. Let me lay out the simple circumstances:
-Tom has family in the D.C. area that could take him to his family reunion in Buffalo.
-My father is in Philedelphia on business each week and I could stay with him at his hotel and leave from there.
-Tom has wanted to see his girlfriend in New Jersey since we started the trip (and we had intended to go there), so he could stay with me and my dad in Philly across the river if he wants.
Based on those factors, I knew that I could feasibly be finished here. Then I had to think about my spiritual journey. Is this what God wants? Am I supposed to go on? I could certainly go on. God will provide for me, I have no doubts or fears about that. But, do I need to go on? I felt nothing drawing me on to Buffalo. No feelings that I'd be missing out if I stopped early. If we went on, I would meet more people and we would be riding several more days and several more miles, but I can meet people and pursue God each day whether on a bicycle far from home or not. Now, being on bicycle far from home does provide a unique opportunity to open up about my faith that being at home in comfort does not. Will I go home and lose my motivation to pursue fellowship or opportunities to witness? Time will tell, but I hope I've learned enough from my experiences this summer to open up to strangers even in my home city. Being home will open different opportunities to serve people and share God's love and I must be aware of those possibilities and take advantage of them.
Sorry for the drawn out stream of consciousness. The distance of this trip is sufficient, the people I have met were fantastic (and I believe we were with just the right people and interacted with the right people all along), the experiences were meaningful, the country was beautiful, and God's lessons were pertinent to the state of my heart and place in my journey. My continued spiritual journey is not dependent on my being halfway across the country from home or using a bicycle to get around. Although, I believe everything about this trip was indicative of God's perfection and His intimate knowledge of my heart.
So, why is it sad that I am ending now? This all came very suddenly. I told Tom that I figured we could end here in D.C. that same Sunday night and by the morning I was decided. It was very abrupt and all other possibilities were discarded. I had absolutely no plan committed for how I would get home after arriving in Buffalo. I tossed around some ideas: plane, train, bus, car, motorcycle. I thought I might drive home and visit all the places I came through on the way here... hence not ending the journey until some time after July 15. Instead, what I will do is fly from Philly to Denver on July 9. That means I will not be able to see the wonderful people I love so much (and this was definitely a factor in my thought process as I decided what I should do now). That includes everyone I have met and supported me on this journey. They took me in (or prayed or followed my progress, sending me encouraging words), a stranger, and cared for me like family. I did not deserve their love, but they showered me with it. I cannot repay them for their kindness, hospitality, and generosity. I know that their motivation was pure, that is, out of love - without expectation of reward - that God may receive all the glory and praise.
I am committed to seeing my new family again. I do not know when and I do not know how. In the meantime, I will certainly be in contact with each of them as I continue this journey - no longer refered to as my "spirit journey," as though it ends after bicycling - which is called life. Does it need a better name? What is life? Life is in Jesus Christ. Life is a journey that never ends so long as you go with him. Live.