The Long Way Round

I’ve discovered I can ride in parkland all the way from Golden Grove to the city each morning. It’s true, I do have to cut across a car park, and take a couple of bits of back street. But in the main, while many people stew at the traffic lights, and dodge impatient drivers, I am enjoying the quiet green of another Adelaide.

There are difficulties, of course. One morning recently, I arrived so wet, that Evelina must have looked up from my trail across the carpet to see if there was a leak in the ceiling! That was the morning after I had found not only that my normal bridge across the Torrens was underwater, but that I couldn’t tell you within fifty yards, where it actually was.

What a joy to see the River Torrens 220 metres wide. And I’ve never seen ducks surfing down the Torrens before! Terriers and kelpies off the leash have been exploring all sorts of interesting detritus that’s arrived from upstream. High school sweethearts are enjoying the freshness of it all each afternoon, and 10 year old boys are excitedly muddying up their mountain bikes around the Wynn Vale dam. And to ride in the roar and mist of a flooding river- what a treat for Adelaide! What a blessing- so different to wet, oily streets, hum drum commuting, and rush hour on North East Road.

We all have the hum drum of a North East Road in our lives, of course. Work, bills, the Tax Office, and doctor’s visits are unavoidable. Many of us will not have the opportunity to ride a bike to work, although some of us could spend a lot more time walking instead of watching TV. Riding the bike is a symbol of taking the long way round in life. Even I don’t have to go through Golden Grove; I could come straight down Main North Road.

The Christian Faith is one key to a life which goes the long way round. It takes us through “golden groves,” small places of paradise in the ordinary.

Spending time to be quiet; no TV, no books, just being; that’s a long way round approach to life, instead of taking the easy short cut in the car and drowning our troubles out with the radio.

Arguing with the sermon, maybe even taking time to work out if the preacher was even right! - that’s life the long way round, instead of just taking what’s served up, and swallowing it without tasting or thinking.

Rereading the lectionary at home, and researching the text, and finding a commentary and trying to understand it more fully; that’s taking life the long way round, instead of just letting it go in one ear and out the other, once on Sunday. That can even mean we get “thoroughly soaked on the way to work.” The bible can discomfort us, wash away our preconceptions, block our normal bridges, and set us on a different path.

And that path is away from the hum drum. Even on the same basic route through life as everyone else, there is a different quality, a depth and joy that is unexpected, and full of little treasures.

Of course, since I don’t live in Golden Grove, I have to go down Target Hill to Elizabeth to get home. Now that’s a wild ride! Sometimes the long way round gives us thrills we never expected. Dig deeper into the faith. Take the back streets. Get into the parklands and by the rivers. Feel the spirit of life.

Andrew Sept 2010, for the church newsletter


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