I had a bizarre day yesterday.
I spent the morning reading and in prayer, like most mornings, but as I continued to read “Room of Marvels” by James Bryan Smith, I thought about the strange coincidences in meeting my new friend, Tom, which I wrote about HERE.
As I continued to read, and it being Father’s Day, I began to think of my dad, who passed away in ’04. In fact, as I sat there thinking, I closed my eyes and began to “walk” through my childhood home. I walked down the hallways, I peered into the closets (I can still remember what was in the closets!), I went into the basement, around the furnace, into the backyard… I went everywhere. But nowhere did I find a good memory of my dad there. I found several bad memories, which I quickly shoved away. I found a good memory of my dad at his house in North Carolina a short time before he died, where he finally said he was proud of me.
Then, off to church, where I heard a Father’s Day message (as you probably did), a nice lunch with Sharon, a short motorcycle ride with her, and then home, watching the Nationals lose again to the Cardinals. We went to the family night for Gordon Parker, and then came back home. It was about 6:30, so I went for one last ride while Sharon did some cooking.
I rode up to Shenandoah National Park and headed north on Skyline Drive, hoping to ride to US33 and then head south back toward home on US340. Just south of my favorite overlook, Trayfoot Mountain Overlook, I came around the corner going a little faster than I should, and a bear about 6 ft long was ambling across the road. When he heard and saw me, he picked up the pace and with a couple of gallops, went into the woods. That was my Father’s Day present! Nice!
I continued on but looked at my watch and decided I really didn’t want to ride down 340 in the dark, so I turned around at the Dundo Overlook and headed south on Skyline Drive, fully satisfied because I saw my first bear in years up there. That changed about 30 seconds later as I came around another curve, this one a little sharper. As I came around the right-hand curve, it was heavily overgrown in the shoulder, and there was another bear in the middle of the overgrowth! I startled him, I think, and he jumped out at me. I had to twist my throttle just a bit to make sure he didn’t hit my rear end. I looked in the rear view mirror and he ran across the road behind me. I’ve heard of (and had) close calls with deer, but not with bear!
Needless to say, I slowed my pace the rest of the twenty or so miles south on Skyline Drive. When I came out of the park, passed over I-64 and US250, I decided to head a short way down the Blue Ridge Parkway, knowing I’d see a deer or two. And that’s exactly how many I saw: two. I saw a baby deer nursing on its mom as I rounded a curve. I’d never seen that before either. Enough wildlife for one day! I jumped over to Route 610 and headed north past Swannanoa Golf Course and Swannanoa Mansion. I pulled into the Inn at Afton as the sun was setting to get a drink of water from the bottle I brought. I jumped off the bike and paused, relishing all that had occurred on the ride.
As I was putting my helmet back on, a Jeep Liberty pulled up with a family in it. He parked facing me but quickly turned around to face away from me. I thought, “I’m leaving in a second, buddy. Hang on and you’ll have a great view without me around.” Just then, he turns around again, faces me, and then gets out of the car. He walks over to me with a smile on his face and says, “I feel like Jesus wanted me to come over to you and talk to you and pray for you. I wanted to be obedient, so here I am. Can I pray for you? I said , “Sure.” He asked me if and where I go to church and we exchanged pleasantries for a moment. He then prayed for me. He prayed that I would know the love of God like never before. He prayed that I would know the Lord’s favor and have the Lord’s protection. After he finished, he repeated that he just wanted to be obedient, and that maybe that would save my life one day (as he looked at my motorcycle).
Was it bizarre? Maybe. But I prefer to think of it as an “uncommon” day. I felt like God was touching me all day long, reminding me of just how close He really is.
I wonder what today holds…