Uh-oh. I spot the unmarked,
four-inch ridge of pavement
a smidgeon too late …
But I’ve jump-cut ahead.
Flash backward with me —
before the detour.
My husband, Dreamer, and I go cycling most evenings. We wear black tights and neon-yellow jerseys (plus neon argyles, for yours truly).
Picture two elderly bumblebees.
Dreamer rides a high-tech, acid green trike; I pedal a black recumbent. Seated roughly two feet above the ground, we count on our strobing head- and tail-lights as well as flapping pennants to alert drivers of our presence.
Perhaps passersby think we’re “spry.” It’s hard to miss Dreamer’s white beard.
Tonight, while powering through a neighborhood construction zone that includes a long stretch of gravel, I collide with the small, aforementioned, asphalt cliff.
The bike jolts.
my tire collapses.
I wobble … but don’t fall.
“Everything okay?” A man out walking pauses to ask.
Dreamer carries a pump and patch kit. “Got it covered,” he calls.
“Thank you for asking,” I add.
By the light of the setting sun, innertube removal commences. Always a challenge.
Then, Dreamer’s pump fails to work. By now the pedestrian’s long gone. Streetlights bloom around us.
SOS phone calls to family ring … and ring … unanswered.
“I could hoist the front end,” I venture. “Walk the bike home.”
Dreamer frowns. “Five miles?”
“Oh.” I feel hope waver, thready as smoke from a guttering candle.
As if in response, a bright blue truck pulls alongside. “Hey, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. Came back to check.”
It’s the walker who stopped earlier. Glory be. I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“Brought my pump, just in case.”
The guy, an avid cyclist, brims over with rescue stories. He’s funny and kind and generous. Four bike-savvy hands complete the task.
Then, in with the good air …
Long ago, Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury said, “Our charity [for others] is so little fervent, yet you, Lord, are so rich in mercy.”
Would I have stopped? Twice?
A long hiss-s-s-s. My newly patched, re-inflated tire goes flat. Again. We stare in dismay.
“Nearly dark,” the man observes, “and getting cold.”
As if we haven’t noticed.
“Let me give you a lift.”
We don’t even know his name.
Turns out Dreamer’s trike won’t fit beside my recumbent.
“Hop in,” the stranger says to me.
By myself? I wonder if it’s safe. And then: How dare I suspect such largesse? I want to say, Okay, but let us pay you. But I know my offer would disappoint him.
I clamber into the passenger seat.
“We’ll follow your husband,” he says. And at 12 miles per hour, we do. He even offers to go back to his place to get Dreamer a jacket. Breathtaking kindness, rich in mercy.
Our rescuer reminds me a little of One who arrives — in various guises — asking: “Need any help?” The same One who smiles when we mention our self-sufficiency. And who returns, despite nightfall, with our welfare in mind.
The One who sees us safely home.
You are my help in the darkness, the psalmist says. “I will rise to give you thanks” (Ps. 119:62).
Before our new friend pulls away, we learn his name is Rich.
Friends, who’s restoring your faith in humanity?