Pastor's Column - May 1, 2013

A bike ride in Barnwell

Over the past three years I've served as Methodist pastor here, I've ridden my bicycle across a lot of Barnwell County. In fact, I totaled up the miles I've ridden since we moved here in 2010, and I've ridden a little over 450 miles just in our county. (If things go according to plan, by the time this edition of The People-Sentinel is published, the total will be close to 550 miles.)
I've had fun riding through Barnwell and the surrounding area. I've ridden my bike through Hilda, Olar and Elko, and gladly taken in the rural fields as I've rolled past. Watching workers harvesting watermelons, stopping once in a while to rest and drink some water, and waving at neighbors passing by, I've gotten a good feel for the heart of Barnwell.
I believe the best thing about cycling through an area is that you get to appreciate it in a fresh way. We all know that when you drive through, it's easy to miss the scenery passing by. And most of us don't have time to see very much of the countryside on foot. But on a bike, you can experience communities, wildlife and various surprises that greet you along the way. We are surrounded by so much God-given beauty, and we just have to go outside to reap the benefits!
Now, it hasn't all been fun: I've been chased by a few dogs, I've been pointed and laughed at, honked and yelled at. I've only been almost run over once, though, and overall my rides have been pleasant. And maybe I deserved some of the pointing, yelling, honking and barking. Overall, I've really enjoyed my time rolling through many of the areas around Barnwell.
As part of an initiative to help Barnwell be healthier, the city has been working on plans for improved bike and pedestrian paths. The city of Barnwell depends on the citizens to help develop the right plans, bringing ideas together that will help our county to be more fit and healthy. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming years, and the cycling and walking plans will provide a great opportunity for all of us. Not only do we get healthier, we also get to experience our community in exciting new ways!
One of the greatest blessings of riding over the past three years has been seeing community in action: seeing folks I know and stopping to talk (when I'm not too out of breath), seeing other folks enjoying time with their friends and loved ones, and once, when I was running, I even had a chance to push a stalled car out of the roadway. So I invite you to join me out of doors: Let's get some fresh air and enjoy our beautiful county!
Rev. Michael Hood is the pastor of Barnwell United Methodist Church.