Feb. 23: Fresh start
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My legs ached from the piston-like movement that they had been repeating the last several hours. Pulling over to a rest stop for a much-needed break, I wondered to my friend Nate, “Did we bite off more than we could chew?”
It was the first of seven days in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), a week-long bike ride across the state. Nate and I had been looking forward to it all summer and were determined to do the whole ride from the banks of the Missouri River in Glenwood to the waters of the Mississippi River in Davenport.
To make the starting date, I had left from a wedding in Cleveland late Saturday night, picked up Nate in Chicago and drove through to the western edge of Iowa by Sunday afternoon. Other riders had started at 10 a.m.; we started at 2:30 p.m.
Taking only one energy bar a piece, we got off to a wobbly start. Fifteen miles in, we had consumed all of our water and had to stop and refill. Somewhere around 35 miles, we lost the bike route. Increasingly frustrated, we eventually found the route again and pedaled on.
By the time we rolled into the host town for the night it was getting dark. Exhausted and hungry, we lumbered to the church that had opened its doors to cyclists. Too tired to put up our tent, we crashed in the church’s cool basement. I had never slept so soundly. When I woke up the next morning, I felt well rested and energized to ride the next 65 miles. Though my legs were sore, I was eager to get back on my bike and continue our journey.
In the Genesis account for today, we find God starting anew. Out of a creation in rebellion, God decides to start over with Noah and his family. Waters cover the world. But out of such work is born a covenant. God makes a promise to all of creation never to flood the whole earth again.
I have often experienced the Lenten season as a time of giving up. In the past, I have given up things in my life that I felt distracted me from God. How refreshing to think that instead of having to give something up this Lent, we get to start anew!