My girls and I went on a great and grand adventure over the weekend, bicycling the Apple Cider Century in Michigan. Thirty-five glorious miles through beautiful wooded roads, watching the colors turn in the leaves, seeing the fields ready for harvest roll out in waves just the way they don’t in Illinois. A lovely, undulating change of pace from FlatGlacierLand, and a grand challenge for my girls to meet and conquer. I love doing this ride with them; I love seeing them catch the spirit of the day, feel themselves a part of The Great Cycling Community (there are five thousand riders at this event), embody the rituals of helmet-gloves-calling out “Car Back” and “Car Up” and “On Your Left.” I love seeing my oldest step up to pumping her own tires and installing her own water bottle cage, and my youngest find her place with the other younger riders in our pack. I burst with pride to witness their resolve and determination to finish the ride, even when their energy fades about twenty miles into the day, and they push themselves up those hills by sheer force of will. By the time we roll across the finish line, hit the port-a-potties and then head for the celebratory spaghetti supper, I’d do anything for my girls. But mostly I want to get some chocolate milk into them to raise their blood sugar before they crash beyond recovery, ’cause we still have a tent to pack up back at the campsite.

I love this weekend every year. We’re signed up for ACC 2009 already.

The weekend was marred somewhat by an email I had waiting back at home, from a dear friend, someone important to our family, confessing he had been pulled over for DUI. This has been very much on my mind over the past two days, wrestling with thoughts about responsibility (his and ours), about breaking rules and getting caught (two different things), about forgiveness and making amends and consequences. Here’s part of the response I wrote him:

You are important to us and a part of our family. We have a claim on you, as you do on us. You are in my heart and in my prayers, as well as very much on my mind. Don’t doubt that you have our complete support, now and in the days ahead. We can deal with a long process of rebuilding trust…a short and traumatic goodbye, however, is unthinkable and unacceptable. Stick around. God has an even larger claim on you, and a purpose for you for good.

All that being said…

What the hell were you thinking?? Don’t EVER pull this kind of shit again. I hope your wife read you the riot act. This isn’t what God made you for.

 (deep breath)

We love you no matter what. You are one of us.

As I wrote this email to him, more questions arose within me. What type of claim do we have on each other? Once we enter each other’s lives, there’s an impact. Becoming friends, intertwining our lives, deepens that impact. What sort of responsibility do I have to be a decent person, because you are my friends? The first temptation is to say “none,” but this particular friend’s DUI experience contradicts that impulse. I really do believe God has a different purpose for his life. I’ve seen parts of it. Going out on the road impaired and dangerous, is NOT a good use of his gifts. And if that’s true for his life, then maybe it’s true for mine too. Maybe I need to be more aware of how I spend my time, what I do with my life, because it impacts the people around me. Kids are watching. Friends claim me. Only God knows what purpose my future might hold.

What if God is watching me, the way I watch my girls on the bike adventure? What if God is just as ready to be bursting with pride, over me?

Hi, Mom! Look, no hands! Watch me climb this hill! I think I can do it.

This isn’t how I thought this post would write out. Thoughts are still swimming ’round my brain. Thanks for listening; it’s good to have a place to think.

Maybe next post will have knitting.