Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

For some reason, there was no hot water this morning. Took a cold shower. I was complaining about this at breakfast, but I tried to put the best face on it, "I guess there is nothing better for a person than a cold shower." The Dutch art historian answered me, "Yes. Like a waterfall. Like paradise." That's one way to look at it.

The "Little Great Wall." Xi'an has the most impressive city wall you can see today in China. In years gone by, all major cities had walls, with city gates. Universities still do. But many of the old walls have been torn down, now. Sometimes, fragments of them remain. You will see the gate, but no continuous structure. But in Xi'an, the wall is unbroken around the entire city. I don't know how much of it has been rebuilt. Quite certainly it is not all original. Nevertheless, a ride around the wall is a great history lesson.

This morning, I went to the South Gate, climbed to the top of the wall, rented a bicycle, and circled the city on the top of the wall. It's about 14 kilometers. Took me an hour and a half. Before I started, I asked the lady which way I should go. She said I could go either way, so I started around clockwise, which seemed logical to me. It wasn't long before I realized that everyone else was riding the other direction. Why do these things happen to me? Oh, well. Sometimes life gets interesting when you're the only one going the right direction, but you know what you do? You just keep peddling. Don't look at everyone else. They don't matter. Set the standard. Somebody has to.

I stopped for a time of meditation somewhere on the north side of the city. I walked to the edge of the wall, and peered through the battlements at the uncertain world. I opened my pocket Concordia, and sang the old hymn:

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be,
Thou blest "Rock of Ages," I'm hiding in thee.

Hiding in Thee,
Hiding in Thee,
Thou blest "Rock of Ages,"
I'm hiding in thee.

In the calm of the noontide, in sorrow's lone hour,
In times when temptation casts o'er me its power;
In the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea,
Thou blest "Rock of Ages," I'm hiding in Thee.

How oft in the conflict, when press'd by the foe,
I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe;
How often, when trials like sea billows roll,
Have I hidden in Thee, O thou Rock of my soul.

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