Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. -GK Chesterton
Ever since I was a little girl (and my brother freed me from those cumbersome training wheels) I have always loved a nice long bike ride – the peace, quiet, wind in my hair (or now in my veil!) and the open road.
I was probably about 8 years old when my parents gave me the green light to ride alone beyond the end of our country road. Now I could ride all the way to the stop sign by myself! No sooner had I gotten this permission than I got into something of a tangle. Yes, on one such ride, my shoe laces got all caught up in the pedal and I had a nasty wreck into the ditch on the side of the road. I tried in vain to untangle my laces, but it was hopeless! So, with tears running down my face and a bloodied knee, I started the long walk home, literally dragging my bike behind me (attached as it was to my shoe!).
From the stop sign, past about 6 houses, up the hill…I was closer to home now…the thought of it propelled me! The whole way home I prepared a dramatic account of my woeful wreck…ah, I knew mom would be there to comfort me, clean and bandage my skinned knee, and wipe away my tears!
Around the bend I trudged, dragging my bike behind me. By this time I was just one house away from home, and a good thing! – my bike was getting heavier by the minute and I really didn’t think I could go another step. Tears flowed from eyes, as I thought of my beautiful red & white Huffy all full of scratches now. Like me, these were her first (but not last) battle wounds.
Finally, my brother and cousin saw me and came running. I told them the whole dramatic tale in painful detail! When I got to the end of the story, out of breath and tears still streaming from my eyes, my older (and wiser!) brother just stood there looking puzzled: “Why didn’t you just take off your shoe?”
He let a little smile creep onto his face, testing the waters before he and my cousin broke out in a full belly laugh. “Take off my shoe!?” The thought had never even occurred to me…“Take off my shoe!?” You mean I dragged that bike the whole way home without the thought of it even occurring to me?!? I remember looking at my brother whose eyes were sparkling with an amused disbelief…and there and then I made the difficult decision to laugh at myself! By the time mom saw us, I had taken off my shoe and my brother wheeled both shoe and bike the rest of the way home, as we all laughed heartily!
I guess that little bike faux-pas could have ruined my love for bike rides for good…but thankfully it didn’t! Rather, it taught me the invaluable lesson that sometimes the best remedy for a skinned knee and a scratched bike is a good laugh! When I am tempted to take myself too seriously (and often I am!), I think of that long teary and wearying walk home, that perplexed/amused look on my brother’s face, and that belly laugh that has never known an equal! St Ignatius was spot on when he said: “Laugh and grow strong.”
“Man laughs because he has a soul. Hence, the more spiritual a person is, the more enjoyment there is in life. In this sense, humor is closely related to faith; it bids us not to take anything too seriously.” -Archbishop Fulton J Sheen