My daughter and I arrived in Montana with a list of things to do to get her ready for school:
• get an apartment – check
• find a church – check
• get winter clothes – check
• get household items – check
• get a bike – uh, not so much.
We went to Walmart to get the household items and even though it was far out of town we decided to get a bike there because it would probably be cheaper than the bike stores in town. We took our cart load of towels, blanket and utensils out to the rental car along with the newly purchased bike.
You are going to shake your head but yes, we did try to put the bike in the Toyota Carolla. It would have worked too… if it weren’t for those silly handlebars! We even tried the trunk.
The Montanans’ found us quite entertaining as we pushed and pulled, lifted and struggled and laughed until we cried.
Then we faced the facts; she needed to ride it the long, very cold ride home. So, she bundled up; even putting socks on her hands because she hadn’t brought her gloves with her tot he store. She was so cold that she wanted to put her hat on underneath her helmet. She was quite a sight. Add to that her small stature and it looked like I was sending my tall five year old out on the highway instead of my twenty-two year old.
She began riding up the inclined bike path that led out of the Walmart parking lot. Halfway up the hill the chain came off of the bike. She walked it to the top, put it back on and then started across the busy road. Halfway across the road the chain came off again.
Okay, so maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
Maybe our lack of bicycle knowledge, combined with poor planning and poor construction of the bike put us in a laughable but problematic position. She walked the bike back to Walmart and we returned it. Time to recalibrate, reconsider and reflect. Time to look at Plan B for the bike. Her brother-in-law can help her get one when he gets here in a couple of weeks. He has the knowledge and the expertise to help her make the right bike decision for her needs. I can guarantee its chain won’t keep falling off.
In this case, changing the plan was wise.
A couple of days later I decided to hike Mount Sentinal. This is a hike made of switchback trails that gradually get you to the University of Montana “M” that is painted on the mountainside, 640 feet above the town.
I started out early and the cold bit at my fingertips and my nose. I had layered three long sleeved t-shirts, 2 sweaters and a raincoat but still felt frozen. It was 35 degrees! I walked through the campus to the base of the mountain. Looking up from the vantage point at the base of the mountain revealed that it was a lot steeper than it looked from across town. I hesitated, reconsidered, prayed and then began the assent. I don’t know why, I just really felt like I would regret it if I didn’t do it before I leave town.
The trail was steep but wide and relatively easy to walk on, but the combination of the cold, the elevation and the incline made my lungs burn, my heart race and my stomach roll.
By the first switchback I could see the whole town and I argued with myself that maybe I had gone far enough. Maybe I didn’t need to go all the way. Maybe I didn’t need to push myself. I would pause for a couple of minutes, get my breath, pray…and then press on; making each switchback a goal of its own, a time to pause and reflect on my progress and catch my breath.
Just one more…
Just one more…
And, as I climbed the view became more and more stunning and my body warmed up. The air no longer felt so arctic, even though I was more exposed to the elements on the mountain. I took pictures along the way and my imagination pictured what I would feel like when I finally got to the top.
And, at last, I rounded a turn and there was the “M.” I had made it and I was so tickled that I did a little victory dance. I sat at the top of the mountain and at the bottom of the 120 foot letter and looked out over the far and wide expanse of the town. The Autumn colors intermingled with the mountains and the historic houses. Breathtaking doesn’t come close to describing the beauty.
I sat and overlooked the town that most of my family will now call home, where my daughter and son-in law will go to school and where my grandsons will play and grow. I prayed for their safety and that this town will wrap them in its loving embrace. More importantly, that God will reveal Himself in special ways to them here. And, that He will heal the longing in my heart for their presence.
So, two missions; one reevaluated and reassigned and the other forged through until accomplished. Thank you God for guiding us through the many decisions and emotions of the week.