Today I saw a man and his daughter riding bikes together on a busy road in my neighborhood. The child appeared to be around 8 or 9 and was riding a hot pink bike. Her sparkly black tutu contrasted with her white tennis shoes and her long wavy hair, was more yellow than blonde and stuck out in streams from under her helmet. They didn’t ride on the side of the road out of the way, so cars could zoom past, but smack dab in the middle, blocking traffic, as if their two bikes equaled one automobile. It was either a brave, or foolish. In hindsight, it’s the only road from the community if you’re going to the ice cream parlor and they rode side by side, as one must with one so young, so I suppose there was no other option. I was directly behind them, so drove carefully, slowly, like I was carrying egg cartons on the hood of my car. Because I had no choice but to watch them, my mind quieted for a rare meditative moment while I focused on nothing but their slow progress toward a stop sign at the top of the hill.
As the incline started upward, I worried that she wouldn’t be able to make it, but just then, the man casually cupped his hand at the small of her back, and began peddling for both of them, adding his strength to her tiny legs and gently pushing them up the hill together. She didn’t seem to notice, never broke stride and her legs never looked strained. She didn’t seemed to feel the extra difficulty level of the incline. I wondered if she even realized what he did for her and how different it would have been had he removed his hand. As a child, I remember taking a few hills like that myself and more than once, to my embarrassment, had to get off my bike and walk myself the rest of the way up the hill. Heck, I think I did that last week, now that I think about it.
They went straight at the intersection and I turned right. As I drove off I wondered at how fortunate she was to have a father to give her that little extra push when she needed it. I wondered at her future, the times he would be there for her and the times he wouldn’t. I knew there would be plenty of both.
I thought of my own life and the times I needed the push. The times I was on my own and the times I wasn’t. I want to thank you Lord for being there for me when I needed it, sometimes through other people, but more often than not, just as an invisible hand at my back that I sometimes noticed, and sometimes didn’t.