Grant Jenks Logo

A Parable of Wind and Hills

I enjoy riding my bike a great deal and miss it while we are serving in Mission Year. Back in Washington, I rode my bike usually on Saturdays along a river that connected the Sammamish and Washington lakes. The ride traced entirely through a valley and so the river was gentle. (So gentle that my wife and I were able to paddle kayaks up and down it.) While I appreciated the ride, I didn’t like how flat it was. The only obstacle was wind. Back in California, I loved going up and down the foothills that were so close to where my parents lived.

In California, I would spend hours pedaling up hills. Sometimes there were beautiful sites along the way. Turning between two hills, I would get glimpses of the Bay Area and cutouts from the mountains. It wasn’t uncommon to fly down a hill in a fourth the time it took to go up.

Hills are a wonderful obstacle in part because you can see them. They are tangible. Stop pedaling and you will feel very quickly that  you are slowing down. Observe the grade, and you’ll know what slows your motion.

Hills are also a wonderful obstacle because whatever you go up, you must also come down. Pedaling up a hill is like storing away money in savings. All that energy you put in to storing up is returned to you in the thrill of flying down.

Wind is not like hills. You cannot grab or see the wind. In fact, as you ride and the air breezes past your face, it’s likely to seem there’s no wind at all beyond that which is created by the pedaling. There’s no beauty that comes from striving against the wind. You don’t earn a beautiful view. You just strive.

And it’s so much more subtle. Some days, I would ride hard and make terrible time. Later I would notice that all the leaves waved against me.

Wind is an unseen obstacle that retards your motion. It’ll help, at your back, like the downhill but not nearly so much. And you don’t store it up as with a climb. You do not curry its favor by your own effort.

So it is with life’s obstacles: some are seen, some are unseen; some reward, some retard.

What’s some wind in your life, at your back or in your face? What are some hills, climbing up or coasting down?

Last updated on February 16, 2022.