In mid-August this summer, I did something I’ve never done before. I participated in the Ronnieboobonnie Bike Tour in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. When I was invited to participate, I thought (vaguely) it was some sort of fund-raiser for storm recovery. But I wasn’t clear on the details. My friend simply said that a bunch of people were getting together do this tour and it’s a ton of fun. As the weekend approached, I asked a few questions and learned that the tour began at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and we would ride from one establishment to another on bikes until the wee hours of the morning. Essentially, it’s a bar crawl on bikes. And there’s no grand purpose behind it; it’s strictly for fun.
So I cleaned up my bike, oiled the chain and headed out on the Ronnieboobonnie Bike Tour. Just getting to the first bar was fun. We dodged shore traffic and rode over bridges, we zig-zagged on and off sidewalks to avoid walkers and/or traffic as necessary. It was a hot afternoon, but bike riding creates its own wind-chill, so there’s built-in air conditioning. We rode through pockets of hot air and cool air and got sprayed by lawn sprinklers — all sorts of pleasant sensory experiences you miss in a car. Strong scents of cut grass, salt water, and suntan lotion came and went. Riding with three other people added to the fun as we changed positions, discussed possible routes and navigated traffic lights.
We met up with some other Ronnieboobonnians at the first tiki bar. More joined us throughout the night — at the height of participation there were over 100 bicycles parked outside. We wore matching T-shirts and entered each bar like a swarm of red, white and blue locusts, quickly overwhelming bar-tenders and waitresses alike. They received us with good humor and worked hard to meet our needs for food and drink. Conversation was light, smiles abounded and hearty laughter punctuated every exchange. As we came out of the second bar, a woman in her seventies asked us about the event. She said it looked like so much fun, she was going to put it on her bucket list for next year. After an hour or so at each bar, we’d bike to the next. The rides were fun interludes that helped us cool off and clear our heads. I suspect I wobbled and swayed a little more after every bar, but we watched out for each other and made sure everyone was safe. There were a few minor crashes late in the evening and at least one bloody knee — but even the injured bike rider laughed through the entire incident. It was fun. Very fun.
It has occurred to me that I haven’t done many things lately strictly for fun. I always seemed to have a cause or a purpose or a goal. I had an agenda. Having an agenda is vastly different than doing something strictly for fun. In fact, an agenda can suck the fun right out of something if you’re not careful. And I wasn’t careful. So life had become very serious. I thought ponderous thoughts and worried about serious matters.
And you know what? That didn’t accomplish one thing. I didn’t find any answers and I didn’t solve any great mysteries. Worrying accomplished nothing. On the Ronnieboobonnie Tour I re-learned something I used to know when I was little: that it’s good to have fun simply for the sake of fun. There is joy in lightness of being. There is freedom in letting go of adult worries.
Jesus said, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
Is it just me, or do we as Christians seem to worry about everything? At the very least, we try hard to find meaning in every little thing. We look for signs. We seek answers to age-old mysteries. I think for me the driving reason behind this relentless search for meaning also comes from the Bible. One of my go-to verses is Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” If all things work together for good, then all things must have meaning, right? That is the way I thought of it for a long time. But Ronnieboobonnie has me thinking a little differently.
Maybe not everything is laden with meaning. At least not so far as we should be concerned. Because it’s GOD’S purpose we’re talking about. God’s good purpose. Maybe a sunset is just a sunset. Maybe our health is declining just because we’re getting older. Maybe someone dies just because it’s his time. Maybe a storm is just part of the natural order of things. Maybe a bike tour with friends is just an opportunity to have some fun.
Here’s what Ronnieboobonnie taught me: Lighten up. Have fun for the sheer pleasure of having fun. Laugh because you can. Even fun works for good according to the purposes of God.