The sun rises earlier this time of year then it did in Winter. It sparks life in everything it once melted. The birds are the first to rise, chirruping their praises in hopes the sun will bring them another day full of worms and discarded lunch crumbs. Next buses churn out across one-way roads, and early-risers meet the crack of down early enough to call out to each other words of encouragement as they walk caddy-corner streets apart, striving (as always) to be early to work. But not too early of course!
(Photo cred Dan W.)
This is when I wake up. Or go to sleep, depending on the load of work I'm facing. Most often, I sleep and miss sunrise, which is most unfortunate as sunrise is really the first deep breath of life in any full-blooded day. But I digress. In any given day I may bemoan my oversleeping, yet rise and strike forth on my trusty bike to climb the hill to campus. Greeting from my bicycle seat the thirteen or so homeless men and women I pass each day, I think it a blessing to pass through such a grounded field of local "veterans" with whom I can share my morning ride- if only briefly- through the simple exchange of waving at one another. The roads are packed with cars and a biker in my part of town find himself oftentimes the lone wolf. If by chance there are other bikers upon the streets we have fun winking, waving, and cat-calling one another to make up for any entertainment that storefronts and windows empty of people would otherwise provide. All this comes before the hill.
That glorious, precipitous hill. A mass of land carved from the very bowels of the earth itself. Daunting. Towering. Unforgiving. It is the single greatest threat to an easy morning ride. A man on his bike has but three options by which he may surmount it--
One: stare down the hill. With unwavering gaze, pierce the very rock upon which it rest. Unblinking, a rider pursuing this option must have the most rigorous of demeanors and the most steadfast of constitutions.
Two: avert all visual contact. The hill stretches upward and upward for but one mile, though its distance grows all the longer peering up the hill to see the next curve- the next fruitless switchback yielding switchback and switchback beyond. Adhering to the Japanese saying "after climbing a mountain... there is yet more mountain" those pursuing option 2 avert their gaze and pedal madly, in defiance of the massive climb ahead, if only to focus on the simple act of thrusting deeply their hip, thigh, calf, and ankle into each bereaved stroke of their metal mount.
Three: breathe it in and savor every moment. As the hill rises, views improve and one's pulse and perception are proportionally quickened. Like a thoughtful reader pouring through tender, tedious text to find the moments of joy tucked amongst a myriad of myopicisms, this is my preferred method of ascension.
Eventually the hill ends and the biker who once thought himself a lone wolf is surrounded by a milieu of pedestrians, mostly collegiate, each of which is striving (often blindly) to reach their destination. Few wear smiles. More often they wear headphones. Though their urbanity is unquestionable somehow the thirteen homeless people at the hill's base seem friendlier than these academics striving to block out any 'unpleasantries' of their surroundings.
The day rushes by in a flurry of pens, papers, smiles, sketches, and snacks. Classes drag and zip according to course content. Lounging alternates with sprinting, and in any downtime hugs and theoretical musings take precedence over thoughts of the evening's chores and other trifling matters. But classes end and the building empties. Sidewalks overflow with the jetsam of a swollen day. Many find their friends best company for the journey home. Many more find their headphones. I however find a sturdy bike my fairest companion, and depart with the release of a song or whistle matching pace to the thrust of legs driving axle'd rubber tyres into road. The journey home is filled with thoughts of the day past. Did I miss anything? Were my concepts strong? Did I represent Christ in my words as well as actions? Have my best days yet to come? What of my friends? Where will we end up? Will I ever find fulfillment? Will I ever find that one special pers--THE HILL!
|Another big cleanup day for UC PAN on Race Street. Unrelated.|
And just like that, our dear mother earth drops off in a rush of trees, clouds, asphalt and parked cars. Sitting low, streamlined against the rushing wind, our dear rider grips his handle bars and drops into his most aerodynamic stance. Screaming for joy and batting tears from his eyes, he whizzes past men, women, and scurrying creatures alike. But alas, the journey lasts far too short! That same hill which took aeons to surmount at dawn now flies by in seconds. With bleary watering eyes our fearless rider zips through a yellow light-- maybe a little too orange for his fancy. The same homeless folk he saw this morning return his heartfelt waves and greetings of a day well-spent. As his final destination nears he concludes that despite the trials rising to the hilltop, it was worth the challenge for the thrill of the ride home. And home he finds. In all its tattered, battered glory. With neighbor Tom and roommate Steve there to warmly greet, the day has never seemed more peasant. It is days like this, in their joyous cycle of rising and falling, that so tenderly embrace the peaks and pits of life itself.
And that's all I have to say about that!