How would you respond to an invitation from a princess?

I was blessed enough to be invited to do something with one on Sunday after church.

“Daddy, can we ride bikes together?”  Well, . . . of course we can.

This invitation came from my eight-year old daughter, who fell in love with riding her bike this past week. I want to say little girl, but no matter how I will always hold onto that description I’ve got to concede sometimes that she’s tall, strong, and in second grade. I’ll have to do the same on her wedding day. Everyday after school we’ve been at the park while she rode around the basketball court getting her bearings, faster and faster and faster. She was hoping to ride on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday mornings as a pastor are full; I’m up early, out early, engaged all morning, and return home to my family in the full throes of Sabbath-keeping. They are usually rolling into naps or watching football or reading in the sunshine. As I come home I ask the Lord to prepare me to love and serve them, to take the load off my wife who has had all three of our kids by herself all day, to be present to my two sons and daughter. I’m hopefully aware that as vocations go, what my family needs on Sunday is for me to be a priest/father/husband to them, not teach a great class or preach a great sermon. Despite where my head is as I pull up to the house, I’m often pretty tired.

But when a princess asks you to go for a bike ride, you go.

So there we were, mid-afternoon, on a striking September fall day, riding bikes on the W & OD trail in Northern Virginia. This is a busy trail, one full of bikers, walkers, and runners. Before deciding to go I’d visualized in my head just how to do it for fear she’d be afraid.

But she’s a risk-taker, brave and willing to try new things. I should have guessed she would vault onto the pavement with a brave push down on the pedals and take off like a pro.

She cranked along with her one speed while I rode around her, guiding and watching as her long legs pumped the pedals, propelling her up and down hills. I was proud of her.

We busted down several miles of the trail with her attacking the pavement, but then had to turn back and go home up a gradual slope most of the way. She was undaunted for most of the return journey over the long, uphill way back to our house (like I said, ‘one speed’). I saw her passion, perseverance, need for water, courage, and competitiveness.

I wouldn’t have traded it for the world, and I hope she invites me again soon.

Dean Miller is a husband, a father of three, and a priest at The Falls Church Anglican.  A graduate of Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. he loves a good book, ice cream, walks instead of car rides, all sports, and any great story.  He can be reached at [email protected].