Photographers know that sometimes the beauty is the whole scene, and sometimes it is some small portion hidden in the middle of a lot of clutter. I don’t choose the images; they call to me and I shoot. It speaks a language of the heart. My only regret is that I didn’t have my better camera with me.
I needed a clearing time today, a chance to process what I experienced on a higher level yesterday. I’ve long felt that there is something truly awful about the city of Norman, OK. On the way to the trails park I came very close to running off the road in Little Axe, a small school district near the dam of Thunderbird Lake, but part of the Norman city limits. There were no other vehicles parked at the trailhead with bike racks, so it was a bad sign, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time. Once on the trail, I knew something wasn’t right. My bike was complaining, and it never balks at a hard ride. Once I decided to get out of there, I still struggled with a sense that I was being detained, held up by something that wasn’t friendly.
All the way home, driving back another route than the one I came in on, I had visions of crashing the bike and breaking a leg, or sustaining some other serious injuries. I prayed about it as I drove, speaking out loud what was in my heart. The visions faded as I crossed I-240, headed north on Sooner Road. I need to stay away from Norman. It’s not so much a question of the city itself being evil, but it’s a bad place for me. It’s critical that I understand it on that level, though I do have a sense that there is a great demonic power at work in that town.
So today I wanted some time, some extended exposure to solitude in one of those secret places where the Spirit of God waits to reveal things. I rolled out on Reno-Vickie-NE 4th route. But at the North Canadian, I jumped off the right edge of the road and took the access path used by the Parks and Recreation maintenance trucks. Just for fun, I took a longer route, heading north for a ways until I found a better ramp down onto the flood plain. While the city hasn’t mowed in months, the trucks pound down a very nice dual-track route up out of the mud. It’s very thick grass nonetheless, so while I can ride along at a fair clip, it requires a good bit of pedal pressure. Thus, in just a half-mile I got a good workout. In the second photo above you can see the faint trace of this track coming around the corner where I approached the prayer bridge — the bike path bridge over Crooked Oak Creek, just off the backside of Eagle Lake.
It was just the Lord and me out there for a long while. The bridge frame offers enough shade that I can be comfortable for quite a while in the breeze. By that point I had made up my mind about Norman and I’ll avoid it in the future. Instead, God spoke to me about the twin parables in Matthew 13:44-46 of the Hidden Treasure and Pearl of Great Price. Whether people are searching or just going about their normal business, we can’t help them unless they see the value in what we offer in our mystical faith. The moral wealth and power has to be apparent to their hearts regardless of the words we might use. And I was also reminded of the importance, for me, of understanding virtual space and the way people form communities online. Like it or not, this is the future of civilization.
As the moment faded away, I remounted and rode back out through the Eagle Lake park and up onto Reno. Just a short jaunt down to Branch Street. I zigzagged my way across that neighborhood, coming across Sunnylane at Fairview. From there I slip around to the entrance of Ray Trent Park. The path across the park puts me out on Judy Drive, and at Sooner Road I cross over and hit SE 7th. That eventually turns into Harold Drive and I cut right onto the multi-use path into Holoway Park. I need to cut some brush that blocks the path behind the houses, but that path runs me out to Sandra. Straight across is a grassy alley that runs up a sharp incline to the backside of 10Gym. Once out on Air Depot, I head north to the parking lot of Golden Corral, then across to Applebee’s and it’s just a loop around some houses back to our apartment complex.
I’ve included a satellite image of today’s ride, traced in dark lavender, where I started off the map on the right with the upper trace. I cut across parking lots when I can, follow sidewalks where it’s legal, and try to stay out of the traffic as much as possible.