Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I Learned About Community While Biking 28.2 Miles Down a Volcano

At 10,023 ft above sea level, you can't see all the way down to the bottom. You can only see clouds. And, well, the crater.

The view as the sun rises is breathtaking, but I think my family has just as much fun huddling around each other like penguins trying to stay warm.

Once we see the blazing sun, the six of us pile back into the van with three other couples to drive out of the national park.

Owen, our guide, lectures us about the rules for the ride and how many different ways there are to die. I'm extremely nervous - I'm not very athletic and I'm suddenly not very confident about my ability to balance on a bike. Owen lines us up by height (shortest in the front, tallest in the back), and we're off.

We fly down the side of the volcano, reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour. It is exhilarating. It is cold. It is beautiful - I can see all the way down to the Pacific.

The rider in front of me, Daisy, is terrified. She is riding her breaks, causing me and all nine riders behind me to do the same. Owen coaches her, trying to coax her to let go, but it doesn't seem to do much.

At first, I am frustrated. The breaks hurt my hands and I want to go faster. But then I realize that Daisy is doing the very best she can. Owen is setting the pace, and I am staying close behind her, my very presence pushes her along, encouraging her forward.

Later, when Owen rearranges us and I am in front, I am the pace setter. Every little move I make affects the rest of the group. When I break, they break. When I speed up, they speed up.

As we flew down the volcano it struck me that this is not unlike community. I am going to reach the beach no matter how fast we go and whether or not Daisy herself does. But her progress affects me. If she slows down or falls away from the faith, I must slow too. I miss out on the beauty of the full family of God.

But when she flies, oh, but when she flies, she paves the way for me to fly too. Her holiness and closeness to God show me an example that allows me to flourish.

And when one of us messes up, or struggles, like when my mom couldn't get her bike to stop on a giant hill, one of us can reach out to assist, helping each other reach the finish line.

So while I could have biked down the volcano on my own, the experience was so much better in communion with others. Thank you Jesus, for giving us community to help us fly towards you.


  1. I LOVE this post. Awesome! And I've done that trip, and it's amazing. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

    1. Thanks, Krafty! It was an awesome trip & I'm so glad I agreed to do it! Hope you're doing well :)