The other day I took a detour off the bike path, turning down to where I usually see pedestrians walking close to the edge of the water near the Pier. I had cycled by this spot many times and once was even intrigued to stare into the tunnel where people were going. So I rolled around a flagpole and pedaled into the unknown corridor.
It was a gateway to the riverwalk, which happens to be one of my favorite places in the city. I spend no time on the riverwalk. I’ve been down there before, for a boat tour, for a short walk. Perhaps I love the place so much because I haven’t spent time there. Because it’s so out of the way. Nonetheless, I pedaled through the tunnel.
A couple sat on the hard sidewalk on a blanket with a brown bag between them. They were too good-looking to be homeless; that’s the thought I had as I watched them for those moments. Around us was pictorial of the city’s history. I think that’s what it was. I didn’t stop and read the tiny words under the blocks of beautiful images.
I pedaled on, saw a cafe dedicated to Monet, felt a hundred water sprinkles on my arms, my shirt, and my face. There were places people could eat. I thought of the couple behind me, the pair that sat on the ground instead at one of the tables. I saw a dog who saw me as I rode by. I spoke to the walkers on the walk. Everyone was smiling. I thought to capture a photo of a sculpture but didn’t. I thought about something someone told me once that God had told them to tell me. I made a note that I’d return to see the sculpture, to take that picture, to remember what God may have been saying to me. At the end of my little stint–because I turned around at the Dusable bridge–was the architectural boat tour office.
I rode the same path back to the Lake, saw the same rain-soaked tables, the same couple with a burrito between them. I felt the same water spraying me, refreshing me with what I needed. I was on my way to park for a while. The half way point would give me a marker to spend some time in prayer. But riding through the riverwalk, I had already felt that I had been with God, that I had been praying all along. And it was true. I had been praying. Those moments, even the eye contact with the chocolate lab, were prayer-filled. And I told myself that all that had come from a detour off my path.