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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cycling may lead some down the road toward faith and a life of service to others

Cycling may lead some down the road toward faith and a life of service to others
By:  Michael G. Lander

Along with those who ride either for exercise or for recreation,
there are some (like missionaries and itinerant preachers) who
ride in order to share their faiths and to serve those in need.

He has been described as a bicycle disciple.  The 76-year-old Maryknoll priest, Father Robert Mc-Cahill, began his life of service and calling to mission work in 1956. 

Often traveling by bicycle, it has taken him to many parts of the world with the simple goal of making a mark of Christianity where he can, not for the purpose of conversion, but to show what he believes a Christian is and what they are led to do with acts of love and giving.  In his later years, he has traveled the countryside of Bangladesh by bike to serve the sick and poor.

Father Mc-Cahill is not alone.  Other missionaries and itinerant preachers from other faiths and denominations have found good use for a bicycle to get around in remote parts of the world where they can help others, giving of their time and resources, sharing their faiths, and answering what they see is their life's calling. 

It is for purposes like this that some people may see the bicycle as a way and means for providing for the greater good of others.  Around the U.S., and here in Memphis, many non-profit, charitable organizations host rides as a way to raise funds for their causes.  For those who participate, this adds a greater dimension and an altruistic purpose to their riding.

For those of faith, charity rides give these cyclists an opportunity to put their faith into action and to demonstrate to the rest of the world what they believe while doing something that will benefit others.   An important element of this also involves being a good example to others around you. 

Living your life in a way that will inspire others is always important, and it allows you to show others how you live and walk in faith, and in some cases, even ride for it.

While some to chose to ride alone, there are others who enjoy
riding with family, friends, co-workers, and those with whom
they share the same faith with.

As relationships are often formed by those who share the same profession of faith, this is even further enhanced when they also have a common interest in an activity or sport like cycling.  One Memphis area cycling team, Temple Israel, has done just that and have, for at least five years now, participated in the National MS Society's FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150. 

Other religious groups, outside the Memphis area, like the International Christian Cycling Club, provide the opportunity for Christians to come together as a community, without regard to denomination.  Their mission is to unite Christian cyclists with one another for a worldwide testimony in lifestyle, training, and sportsmanship.  

In a more introspective way, cycling can also provide a person with a time of solitude, reflection, contemplation, and prayer.  For some it may be the only time that they might have when they are alone without the countless distractions that otherwise can take over and rule our lives. 

Having that time can provide us with more insight into our lives and give us a sense of enlightenment and an awareness, perhaps even on a more spiritual level, that we may not be able to achieve when our lives have been hijacked with more worldly concerns. 

While many people may be seeking a greater understanding to the meaning of the world and their lives, we often don't have the time to make sense of it all.  Cycling, for some, may be one of the best ways that will enable us to at least take a few moments out of our day to step back and see the world and our place in it.

Seeking reasons and answers in our lives is something that most of us invariably do at one time or another, especially as we face adversity, disappointments, heart aches, and pain.   With life and with cycling, we often find that not every road that you end up traveling on is always easy.  It can sometimes seem quite formidable and maybe even impossible. 

Cycling, in many ways, can be like life itself with lots of challenges,
headwinds, and uphill climbs.  For some, faith is the best way to
face all of these head on and to overcome them.

At any time, on any ride, we may face a lot of challenges, strong headwinds, and many uphill climbs.  Even though it may sometimes seem  difficult and overwhelming at the time that we go through all this, we often find later on that we usually benefit most during those times that we suffer and struggle the most. 

Through this, we learn the value of hard work and sacrifice and some are comforted in the thought that they can turn to an outside source to provide them with the strength and stamina to help them get through the tough parts.   

For cyclists who do believe in a higher power, they may feel like they are never really riding all alone.   For them, it is God who is with them, a constant companion in their lives and on their rides. 

For Robert Lee Scott, Jr., God was always at his side.  In his book, "God is My Co-Pilot," the Flying Tigers pilot in WWII, shared his experiences while flying combat sorties and how, throughout each of these, he found great comfort and solace in the thought that God was always by his side, even in the face of death. 

Even though the cycling experience does not require that you have any faith or a belief in God, it can be one way where you may able to connect with or enhance the spiritual side of your life.  You need only take the time and make the effort to try it and see where that road may eventually lead you.

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