Friday, January 12, 2007

NOT NEGLECTING BIKEHIKER...JUST BIKE HIKING INDIA


If you read Bikehiker every so often, I'm sorry if you've been disappointed with near zero posts this month. I am posting every day while bicycling through India at http://bicycleindia2007.blogspot.com. All, or most, of my writing time and very limited Internet access (dial-up at that!) is going into that effort until I return to American soil on February 10.

I encourage you to visit http://bicycleindia2007.blogspot.com or www.bikeindia.org and at least take in our photos from the journey. So far, we've covered over 800 miles in two weeks of riding from the southern tip of India on our way to New Delhi.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

INDIA

I penned this poem when I was in India last February. My current visit confirms my observations.

Ancient Mother
River wide
Flowing onward
Rising tide

Ever-seeking
Gods untold
Bows in worship
Yearning soul

Gracious welcome
So betrayed
Meanly plundered
Burden-weighed

Deeply longing
To be free
Confronts power
Peacefully

Modern nation
On the go
Ardent striver
Watch it grow

Many peoples
tongues and tribes
Past and present
Side by side

Changing faces
Caste aside?
Or revert to
Social pride?

Crucial moment
Now to see
Grace and justice
Victory

Thursday, January 4, 2007

ABOVE ALL, IT’S A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

DIMENSIONS OF A JOURNEY. I’ve been thinking about the nature of this experience. It has various dimensions. Certainly there is the physical and mental test that we feel everyday. Then, there is the overt purpose of the project—to raise $600,000 needed to rebuild Umri Christian Hospital, a goal I hope everyone who is reading this will support in some measure. Another aspect of the trek is to raise awareness and support for UCH within India via our conversations and contacts along the way. For instance, a trade official from Dubai stopped by to talk with us and promised support for the hospital. Wow! An official of Qatar pledges support for a Free Methodist Hospital to a rag-tag group of cyclists riding through the heart of India.

BEING OPEN TO GRACE. There are more dimensions of this experience. But if this is not a spiritual journey, it is no journey at all. Spiritual journeys are not necessarily as straight forward as others. I may not be able to choose the path of learning, insight and growth on this journey. It is not like seeing a map, following the road and pedaling into encounters with nature and humanity. I can, however, choose to be open to grace, to challenge my vain thoughts, to move way from selfishness and mere consumption of things and ideas, to cease reducing religion, politics, and people to predictability and cycle, to dare to believe and trust in God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ—to see this grace and love everywhere breaking through and to live out of this center of divine anticipation.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

NEW YEAR’S EVE IN INDIA

AT A CORNER MARKETPLACE. Happy New Year from India! We experienced the beginning of 2007 exactly 12 and a half hours before the folks in the American heartland rang in the New Year. Indian celebration of the New Year is similar to what happens in America, but our experience of it was among the poor. We spent some time in the markets at a busy intersection earlier in the evening—a bazaar full of what most North Americans would find bizarre. Cattle roam among the crowd and traffic. A man sitting crossed legged on the ground repairs bicycles while patrons wait (I watched him repair a punctured tube without taking the wheel off the bike!). Three men carry on a vigorous conversation in sign language. The smell of curry and myriad spices wafts through the marketplace. Ripe bananas hang in bunches. Coconuts pile high on the ground. Tamil-language newspaper headlines broadcast gory details of Saddam Hussein’s hanging. Fireworks explode in the sky, barely discernable about the noise of honking traffic. Women walk by in brightly colored saris and Punjabi suits--as ancient as Bible times, bought right off the rack! Men dress casually in a shirt and skirt-like dhoti. Instead of huddling for the midnight countdown inside--away from the harsh cold--folks go about their New Year’s Eve activities outside in eighty-degree heat and humidity. The old year passes and the new rings in. I’m sure I will never experience a New Year’s Eve like this again.

I have invested what little time I have for journaling during this ride by making daily posts to the Bicycle India 2007 blog. I hope you will explore it either directly at http://bicycleindia2007.blogspot.com/ or go to our website http://www.bikeindia.org/ and click on “blog.” There are lots of photos Joe James and I have taken along the way. Also, we’d love to hear from you via the blog; feel free to post a comment, ask a question, etc. We’ll try to respond as we are able.

TO THE NEW YEAR

To the New Year: May it be full of grace. May God use us all to God’s glory, moving us in the direction of God’s dream for us. May the future God envisioned when we were knit together in our mother’s womb move closer to fulfillment in us this year. I desire to live what God anticipated in Jesus Christ in all aspects of my life—more this year than ever before. I want less to do with the broken and breaking ways of the past and passing patterns of living. I want to be about living as an heir to a kingdom begun, a reign in my heart and among all who recognize and embrace it, a kingdom that breaks out and breaks in through our individual and collective life together. I want to live as if I am a child of God, which I, by faith, am. All else falls in line after this. To God be the glory. Amen!

KEEP CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS. Let’s not forget that we are still in the season of Christmas. We are living the 12 days of Christmas, all the way to Epiphany on January 5th. Keep thinking in terms of God’s precious and specific gifts to us through Jesus Christ. I noted that, accord the cryptic catechetical song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” that the eighth day of Christmas, Monday, January 1, celebrated the gift of the Beattitudes. Read them again in Matthew 5. Gifts? How about direct challenges to our way of life! I recited them and reflected on them while we pedaled through ancient villages and talked to generationally poor people along our route on New Year’s Day.