Spiritual thoughts of a city cyclist
A Christian Science perspective.
Around the world, city cycling is definitely picking up speed! From Curitiba to Bogotá, Colombia to Copenhagen to Montreal to Portland, more and more Western cities are incorporating cycling into their transportation planning mix, not to mention places in the developing world where the bicycle continues to be used as an uncomplaining “beast of burden.”
But motorists sharing the road with cyclists, pedestrians, and in-line skaters, using city pathways can be challenging, requiring generosity and patience on all sides.
For the past 20 years, my wife and I have been committed urban cyclists, with our “family car” being a small fleet of bikes. We cycle through city streets with tricky left-hand turns and uphill climbs in traffic, while sharing lanes with cars, buses, trucks, and other cyclists. I even ride during Canada’s snowy winters. While not everyone feels at ease cycling in a big city, I’ve felt safe and secure by turning to God for help.
I’ve taken some logical steps toward safety – I wear a helmet and a safety vest that makes me stand out, especially at night. I know the laws, and I try to be visible and predictable.
But it’s prayer that makes my cycling experience overwhelmingly positive. I truly do feel safe. After 20 years, I can literally count unpleasant incidents on one hand.
It helps, I think, to abide by some spiritual “rules of the road.” – rules that can be applied by cyclists, vehicle drivers, and even pedestrians. Here are some examples:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). The road belongs to God because the whole universe exists for God’s glory. The challenge is to cede our personal views, feelings, and assessments to what God knows: His absolute sovereignty and our perpetual safety.
The mind of Christ
Often we might look at other cyclists or drivers and think unconsciously, “My trip is more important than theirs.” What if our priority, instead, were to help and minister to others? Try it, and watch what happens. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3-5).
I don’t drive defensively in the usual sense. I’m not watching out that I don’t get hit. Instead, I look for God’s perfection expressed as courtesy, intelligence, kindness, and so on by both drivers and pedestrians. It’s a different kind of vigilance, and it bears fruit every time.
I trust only the fact that divine Love is behind, beside, and surrounding us all, governing every traveler as God’s image and likeness. If we trust fallible humans, that trust is misplaced – especially in an age of instant messaging and cellphone distraction. And if it seems right to caution a driver or pedestrian, I do it as gently as I can. For example, on my winter bike, I have a funny horn that sounds like it belongs to a circus clown.
The reason I do something is all-important. If I cycle because I want to become healthy and fit, then the starting point isn’t divine perfection. If I cycle out of fear for the environment, my actions affirm imperfection. So, being healthy as God’s child, I cycle. Knowing that God is governing His environment, I emit very little carbon going from Point A to Point B. Knowing that God’s safety embraces everyone, including me, I wear a helmet.
Turn the other cheek
Have you ever been the target of road rage? You can take it with good humor, considering objectively whether you could have done something differently. Once a bus driver started yelling incoherently at me. In that moment, I was able to know that there was only one Mind. One Mind knowing itself – because there isn’t anything else – with no anger, no sense of injustice, just appreciation and understanding. Right away I felt compassion for this man, and it was easy to turn the other cheek. Later, as I prayed about the incident, I could see that, though I honestly didn’t feel I had done something wrong, I could understand his anger. I resolved to be more thoughtful in such a situation in the future.
These aren’t the only spiritual rules of the road. They’re just examples. I pray a lot about cycling, and the prayer needs to be fresh every day.
Almost everyone is a driver, rider, or pedestrian on most days. What an opportunity to share harmony and love.
Adapted from tmcyouth.com.