In the World, Of the World
Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone -- George Fox, 1656
Driving back from the North Carolina coast a couple of weeks ago, I had a train of thought. We frequently used a smartphone to guide us around the Outer Banks. It's fascinating to watch that little blue dot move around the map as you drive through an unfamiliar town. I definitely felt the master of the situation, at least as long as we had a good cell signal.
Heading home, we first rolled across the coastal plain for a couple of hours. It is mostly large farms with intersecting roads, and the flatness of the terrain is alien to this hillbilly. A mental image came to me of being that blue dot on a flat map. The vastness of the seascape and the uncommonly distant horizon I had been viewing for the past week came back to me. Then a feeling that I used to get in my motorcycling days returned, that of being a small but finite presence in an immense world, not in insignificance, but as one of many sentient beings.
Most bikers have probably had that same feeling, and maybe horsemen too. Unprotected by a shell of steel, you are unbound, and there is a unity with creation that brings a profound peacefulness. It is a wonderful feeling, and I thought of how much I missed it.
Then I drew a parallel. There is a well-worn quote by George Fox, the man usually described as the founder of the Religious Society of Friends: "you will come to walk cheerfully over the world," and it seemed to fit the moment. There aren't very many Quakers, so in some ways we're as isolated in this world as a rider on a motorcycle. But the satisfaction we get from our lifelong seeking of truth is a gift that brings honest joy. For most, the space we occupy in society is small, but at least for this Friend and probably all of us, walking cheerfully because of a full and active sense of spirituality expands us, grounds us, and gives us a place.
It's a lot like riding a motorcycle.