Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Heed the Promptings, Part 1

© Cindy Beck, 2008

(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Holy Ghost, promptings, bike ride, spiritual impressions, Spirit,

I’m right-handed—yet there I sat, typing the beginnings of this article by hunt and peck with my left hand. Why? Because I failed to persist in my efforts to understand the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Many years ago, when my hair contained less gray and my joints didn’t ache so much, I took my toddler son on a bike ride. Biking has always been one of my favorite ways to get exercise, so I strapped him into the child’s seat on the back, and off we went. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. Near the end of the ride, I turned the bike in a circle to head home. There was no warning—just a slip of the tire on a wet spot. The bike flew out from under me and I was flung to the asphalt.

Scrambling to my feet, I rushed to my son. His wide eyes reflected fear, but he had been protected by the plastic seat. The gravel embedded in my knees stung and blood seeped from the cuts, but he didn’t have a scratch. As we started home, I searched my heart to see if I had ignored any promptings from the Spirit. Relief flooded through me as I realized that I was blameless. I hadn’t been forewarned but we had been protected.

Move the clock forward to 2007. Over the summer months, and with increasing frequency, images of that long ago day flashed through my mind.

Odd. What did it mean? I gave the thoughts a casual moment of interest, then brushed them off as if they were dust on a windowsill. My son, Dave, was full-grown, so there was no toddler on the back of the bike. And no reason to worry about taking a spill during the dry, high desert summer days.

In November, fall air and bright sunshine once again beckoned. Jumping on my bike, I whirled away across town, the soft breeze teasing my hair, the pungent scent of fallen leaves tickling my nose. On the way home, a friend called to me and I turned the bike. A narrow strip of the cement in front of me looked wet. For a split second I wondered, in jest, if someone was watering the curb and gutter, trying to make them grow.

I should have made the connection with the recent promptings … but didn’t. As my tire crossed the wet patch, the bike flipped out from under me, and before there was even a chance to get my hands down, I crashed to the ground on my right side. Blood dripped from split skin on my little finger. Worse than that, my right arm really hurt. After being flung to the concrete, though, how could any part of me not hurt? I dusted myself off and my friend took me into her house and spot-cleaned the blood from my clothes.

All the while, my arm ached—a lot. I told myself it was just bruised and battered … and maybe I’d pulled a ligament.

Stepping back outside to head home, I put my hands on the handlebars and used my forearms to balance so I could jump up onto the bike’s seat. A recognizable, dark feeling of intense pain shot through my right arm.

I knew what that meant—a broken bone. After living through a broken nose, a shattered ankle and a snapped wrist in my lifetime, the feeling was all too familiar.

And it was a Friday, just after my doctor’s regular office hours. When my husband arrived home from work half an hour later, we drove to the emergency room. The x-ray revealed the arm/elbow had a break right where the two connected.

It wasn’t hard, standing there in the emergency room, to recognize that the Spirit had been warning me for months. Why hadn’t I listened?

My answer to that now sounds feeble. Every time the Spirit pricked my memory, I didn’t understand the message. Was I being warned to avoid wet spots? Or to quit riding my bike? Was I supposed to do that for a week, a month, a year … or forever? Not knowing, and thinking it was just a coincidence that I remembered the past accident, I had brushed it aside. What I should have done was pondered the impression, reasoned out what I thought it meant and then prayed for confirmation. Had I done that, the broken bone could have been prevented.

Fast forward to eight months later. On a fine summer day in 2008, with the breezes blowing and the birds singing from the tree tops, I climbed on my bike and felt that surge of happiness that comes when riding. After gliding down the driveway, I turned onto the road, and an impression came to me. This bike is getting too old. It’s time to get rid of it and buy a new one.

Aw, no. Get rid of my favorite, teal-colored bike? The one that reminds me of the ocean? The one that carried me on biking adventures with my young son?

I thought for a minute. Maybe the Spirit is just telling me I need to tighten the bolts and get new brakes. I rode a little farther, telling myself it was my own logical thoughts that made me worry and that giving the bike a tune-up would take care of the matter.

The words "metal fatigue" came to mind.

I wanted to bargain. Listen, I’ll tighten everything and put new brakes on. That way it’ll be okay during the summer and I can buy a new one for Christmas.

An image of the bike breaking in two and my body lying crumpled on the ground entered my thoughts. At the same time, the prayer that I’d whispered for guidance and protection that morning floated back to me. Stopped short by the impressions, I chastised myself. What sense did it make to pray for guidance, and then to stand around and argue with the Spirit when He gave me direction? Hadn’t anything been learned from the accident of eight short months ago? What about my vow to listen more closely to promptings given me?

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I’d learned the consequences of ignoring the Spirit with the last broken bone, and it wasn’t a lesson I wanted to repeat. Walking would give just as good a workout. I turned the bicycle around and headed home.

Today the sparrows and finches are chirping outside my window. The sweet scent of the linden tree across the street calls a siren song. It would be the perfect day for a bike ride … and in the next week or two, when I get a new bicycle, I’m going to take one.

Until then, the old teal bike will remain parked in the garage. And hopefully, the Spirit will continue to guide, and have patience, with its owner.

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