Under the overpass of life
I am paused for a sip of refreshment from the Swell water bottle I’ve pulled from its cage which is mounted on my bicycle. I have chosen this spot for a water stop because it is nicely shaded under the highway overpass. Here I can shelter from this Florida sun I’m not used to — it is January, after all. Overhead, gigantic cement girders support a six lane highway. I can hear the traffic whizzing by… at considerably more-than-highway speed.
No, I do not lament the pace of life that it is passing me by, ever at breakneck speed. Rather, I am perfectly satisfied to pause and sip in this shade as the other cyclists pedal by. I acknowledge some with a nod. Others pass without even a glance. A few alert me that they’re coming. “On your left,” they say. And they are for a fleeting moment and then grow smaller and smaller in the distance.
Suddenly alone with my thoughts, I let my eyes travel upward to the giant grey girders over my head, silent and strong but massive. For a very split second, I imagine what might happen if they came crashing down. But I dismiss this thought quickly. I am confident that a capable architect, an accurate building engineer and a diligent construction crew erected this structure. Certainly, all necessary precautions have been taken and the required inspections have been made to guarantee its structural soundness and assure safety.
Standing here alone astraddle my bicycle saddle, a cycling helmet the only form of protection I have, I suddenly realize I’ve put a lot of trust in a whole host of humans I’ve never met.
In this moment, something inclines me to look upward and past the girders.
When I do, the dazzling, impossibly-azure sky peeks from beyond the bridge’s span and compels my gaze. “Why,” it seems to say, “if you trust these chunks of cement to protect you, why do you not trust me?” The voice-that’s-not-a-voice goes on. “I am the architect of all that is, the designer of all that will be, the builder of all that is becoming. Why, if you trust the work of human hands, do you not trust me?”
The Lord of Universe now has my full attention.
Why don’t I trust the Lord of the sky to protect me as I go along my way?
When I look around at all that has been made, why don’t I trust?
When I survey all that has been given, why don’t I trust?
When I recall the many instances from which I have been rescued, why don’t I trust?
In that moment I turn my eyes again to the ghostly white of the cement girders, ominous in their row-by-row alignment overhead. I notice the rumble of traffic which now echoes in thunderous tones on all sides. I permit the thought which had been holding itself back: if I heard the structure of this bridge crack and start to give way, would I be able to extricate myself in time? Could I dive to safety? What about the other cyclists? What of the unsuspecting motorists?
No, I decide, I could not save myself. No, we could not save ourselves.
Slowly, I take a final swig from my Swell, carefully screw on its top and slide it back into its plastic cage. Looking to left and to right, I ease my bicycle back onto the trail and propel myself into an easy rhythm.
I probably won’t stop here on my return trip. I’ll pause in the shade of a nearby tree, greened by the sunny days and watered by the summer rains. And I’ll listen.