September 30, Day 90 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
Another Divine Encounter
Yesterday, we had a rest day in Xenia, Ohio. Xenia is one of those locations with some tragic tornado history attached to it. Parts of the town were totally reconstructed after an F5 tornado in recent years. We’re always intrigued by tornado stories because bicycle tourists are particularly vulnerable to adverse weather.
Our motel did not come with accompanying restaurants as many of them do. Our food choices were a half mile in one direction or one mile in the other direction. When Monday evening came, we were still scurrying around catching up on blog content. So, even though we wanted to eat at a restaurant that was one mile down the road, we opted for the shorter and less time-consuming walk, the same one we had taken the day before.
When we arrived at the eateries, we decided to check out a restaurant that specializes in chicken. Upon entering, it was apparent this wouldn’t be the place to carry on a meaningful conversation. TV monitors were everywhere, and Monday Night Football audio was blaring at a fever pitch. Although the menu was intriguing, we decided to depart for quieter surroundings.
Just outside the chicken coop, we immediately saw two more possible choices. One we had just been to the night before. The other was a pizza joint. I asked Debbie which she preferred. She didn’t really want Italian food, so we decided to return to the restaurant with the broader menu.
Shortly, a friendly waitress came to take our order. We told her that we have been bicycling across America. What often follows in our conversation thereafter happened again. We said that we were both volunteer hope coaches for an organization called TheHopeLine, and that TheHopeLine had intervened in the lives of over 3,000 young people who were struggling with suicidal thoughts in 2013.
“Oh…this is a God thing!” she exclaimed before sitting down right beside Debbie. She proceeded to tell us that her son was talking about ending it all. We were able to encourage her by giving her a card with TheHopeLine contact info to give to her son, by commending her for taking his claims seriously, by committing to pray for her son, and by encouraging her with success stories from TheHopeLine. She was convinced that God sent us into that restaurant, and even told her supervisor so. We didn’t have much doubt ourselves, given how we arrived at this eating venue yet again.
We’ve had other experiences like this on this tour, which encourages us that God is directing our path. It’s a comforting, yet humbling, feeling to be part of a Divine encounter. It keeps the bicycle wheels spinning in a hopeful and meaningful direction!
Xenia is a hub for bicycling in Ohio. Several bike paths converge upon it. We took one of those paths east today to London, and then diverted onto back roads to skirt the large city of Columbus. The bike path was entirely paved, an old rail trail converted for recreational use. A long gradual ascent was virtually transparent to us, thanks to the savvy of yesteryear’s railroad engineers. The first leaves to fall on the path made it look more like fall than the leaves still remaining on the trees that encompassed the path. Periodic breaks in the adjacent trees revealed that we had not begun to leave the agricultural economy of the Midwest. Huge corn and soybean fields winked at us as we continued the beeline to London. These were 30-odd, easy miles.
Once off the path, we became reacquainted with wind resistance, traffic, and hills. Yet, we had enough miles in the bank to end up with a significant mileage day despite any adversity. We ended the day in Delaware, just north of Columbus. We had avoided the city completely, only paying homage late in the day to commuter traffic. A sunset ride to our motel capped a satisfying ride through central Ohio. It offered an interesting mix of rural agriculture, small towns, and commerce, with larger cities just a stone’s thow away. There’s much more Ohio to come in the days ahead.