I did the 11th annual Tour de Stooges ride today. This year, the ride took place in Highland, IL instead of Lebanon, IL; the change in location was because the number of riders outgrew that community's ability to handle them all. I think the count of riders last year was around 700.
The choice to move the location was a good one. The route was interesting enough, but not extreme. In today's case, however, an interesting course was made very challenging by the addition of a sustained 15 mph WNW wind with 25 mph gusts. I spent the first 40 miles riding with the wind pushing me from my left, my right, or head-on. About a third to a half of the remaining 24 miles was spent with a tailwind -- a great relief. I am a stocky rider with lots of meat on my bones, but even I was getting pushed back and forth across the road by the wind.
Spending five hours on a bike, I had time to think about a lot of things. At certain points, I couldn't help but think of the symbolism of wind as the Holy Spirit. After all, how appropriate since Pentecost is a week from tomorrow! I have to admit, with the wind making the day's cycling so challenging, my thoughts didn't go much beyond "wow, this is hard!" Now that I have had some time to reflect on the day's experience, I wonder to myself if some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as fortitude/courage and understanding/common sense aren't given to us -- but rather (l)earned -- the hard way! I certainly learn courage -- and perseverance -- by enduring against the wind on my bike. Common sense also tells me not to expend all my energy early on a long ride like today's -- I have to be conservative at the beginning of the ride if I am to make it for the long haul.
How does the Holy Spirit challenge you and push you to be better, more courageous, or wiser? You might face physical challenges of your own such as disability, infirmity, aging, or something else. What about emotional, social or professional challenges -- any of these can feel nearly as crippling as a physical problem. What is the Holy Spirit teaching you through these obstacles, how do you work with them, and more importantly what do you learn from dealing with them?