It looked like a pack of sweaty bike riders, appearing out of nowhere, speeding down a lonesome road in 100-degree heat. At least that's what it looked like to me. But there was more to it.
I was perhaps 130 miles into an all-day 200-mile bike ride through the foothills of California's Eastern Sierra when I began to run out of steam. Not having much else to think about, I wondered why I was feeling this way. Had I eaten the right food last night? Had I gotten enough sleep? Was I taking in plenty of fluids? Had I trained hard enough? Even though the answer to all these questions was an unequivocal "Yes," I still felt pretty exhausted.
This led me to ask a different question: "If it's not food and water, not the amount of rest or training, then what is it that propels me forward? What is the source of my strength?" The only answer I could think of was love. My love for the spectacular scenery surrounding me. My love for biking. My love for the freedom, flexibility, harmony, and joy I experience each time I ride.
"That's nice," I thought. "But what does love have to do with strength? What does love feel like? What does love look like?" You've guessed it. As if on cue, there appeared, almost out of nowhere, a pack of sweaty bike riders, speeding down this lonesome road in 100-degree heat.
One of these bikers invited me to join his pace line. (This is when riders line up directly behind one another as closely as possible so as to take advantage of the lead rider's wind break or "draft," with each rider taking a turn "pulling" the line.) The effect was a decrease in the amount of energy I had to expend while, at the same time, increasing my speed. Not a bad deal!
A few miles down the road, feeling refreshed, I broke away from the pack. But this sense of the sustaining power of love stayed right with me. At one stage this love looked like another solo rider and me keeping one another company on a long uphill stretch. Later on it looked like a gloriously long downhill with nary a car in sight. And for the last 30 miles or so, love looked (and felt) like a steady tailwind gently pushing me across the finish line.
So what exactly was this "love" that appeared seemingly out of nowhere, this love that looked like many different things? Was it simply positive thinking, some happy thought that had the effect of taking my mind off my body just long enough to finish the ride? No. As I see it, each instance described was confirmation of the love of God, the love of Love itself. The strength I experienced that day didn't come from my body. It didn't come from the pace line or the tailwind. It came from my acknowledgment of the presence of God, the presence—and power—of divine Love.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "'God is Love.' More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go" (Science and Health, p. 6). While everything about my ride—the scenery, the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment—was great, it was this enlarged understanding of Love as the very source of my strength that really put the icing on the cake. As it says in the book of Psalms, "It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect" (18:32).
I realized that if God is Love, then proofs of Love's presence must be infinite as well.
I realized that if God is Love and God is infinite, then the expressions or proofs of Love's presence must be infinite as well. God's wisdom and health and supply and compassion—and, yes, strength—must be reflected everywhere, in everything, and in everyone.
It's nice to know that when you are in need of strength, encouragement, inspiration, you can acknowledge God's presence, the presence of Love, and ask yourself, What does Love look like?
Eric Nelson lives in Los Altos, California, with his wife, Wendy. Together they enjoy biking, hiking, and exploring the outdoors.
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