My husband, Eric, and I had a great day planned. We had tickets to the Redskins Training Camp in the morning, would close the day with a Flying Squirrels baseball game in the evening, and in between we’d take in some of the Science Museum and perhaps even an afternoon movie matinee. The destinations were all within nice biking distance of our house and so we would ride our bikes from location to location, enjoying being outside together, and generally just being good to the environment. We both had been looking forward to it for weeks.
Wednesday morning we arose, got ready, packed our backpacks with water bottles and sunscreen and got ready to head out. Then I discovered it: no bike. My bike had been stolen right off our front porch. After the initial feelings of annoyance, anger, and disappointment, we strategized what to do next. This could easily ruin our entire day. We contemplated jumping in the car, but that would mean haggling with the hassles of parking with 20,000+ other football fans. Plus, part of the point of the day was to be independent of our need for a personal motorized vehicle.
“Well, we could walk,” my husband suggested. “How long would it take?” I asked. We consulted Google Maps. 45 minutes the most direct route. 46 minutes if we detoured slightly past Sugar Shack donuts. “We’d think nothing of a 45 minute hike in a park. Why not a 45 minute walk through the city?” Why not indeed?
And so we set out. We walked to training camp (stopping for an obligatory donut and caffeine). We then walked to lunch, to the Science Museum, and then to a matinee at Bowtie cinemas. We even blissfully unaware of the passing rainstorm as we emerged from the movie to discover puddles everywhere on our short walk down (or up?) Boulevard to the Diamond where we caught most of a losing effort by our hometown team. Along the way we noticed brick sidewalks we hadn’t really seen before. From a high vantage point atop an overpass we mentally traced the route the trains likely took back when the Science Museum was a railway station. We not so deftly avoided walking through spiderwebs. We waved at a nightshift forklift operator. We slowed down to notice things we had passed by so many times before but had never really seen or stopped to think about.
I wonder what else in your life and my life goes by unseen, unnoticed because we are always moving from one destination to the next at the fastest and most convenient rate of speed. As we hurry through life, always looking for what comes next, we can miss seeing not just physical things, but emotional and spiritual things, too. What don’t we notice in our relationships? In our vocations? May you and I have more opportunities to slow down and notice. And may it not take getting your bike stolen.