Cycling is next to … Godliness?
Cycling is next to … Godliness?
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, enduring temptation from the Devil. Mirroring this, there are those who still attempt to give up a small vice during Lent.
The original purpose of the fast was to draw you closer to God, and would be in addition to prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and atonement. In this spirit, the Right Revd Dr Edward Condry, the Bishop of Ramsbury, gave up his car for Lent last year, taking to two wheels and public transport. In the process, he saved over 2,000 miles of driving. This year, he will begin his four wheel fast again, and take on the additional challenge of eating only locally sourced food.
As anyone who lives or who has lived in rural Wiltshire will know, public transport is limited. Bishop Edward mainly looks after churches in rural parts of Wiltshire, and therefore he will largely be dependent on an age-old trinity of Pashley, Sturmey Archer and pure pedal power.
Bishop Edward said: “Last year, I gave up my car for the whole of Lent, doing as much of my business as possible by bike and the rest of it by bus and train. This saved over 2,000 miles of driving. It was rewarding, and at times extraordinarily challenging.
I was surprised how much of a spiritual experience it was to give up the car, in a way that struggling to give up chocolate had never achieved, for me. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but maybe it is as simple as having to change my life pattern and make an extra effort."
“Lent should be a time when Christians make some real sacrifices, following the example of Jesus Christ, who fasted in the desert for forty days before starting his public ministry. It’s also right that I do things that lead me to question my 21st Century lifestyle that comes at a huge cost to the planet. That’s why I decided to eat only locally sourced food for Lent as well as giving up the car.
“Christians are called to care for God’s creation. Each of us must take our personal contribution to CO2 emissions seriously.”
While for many cyclists and CTC members the challenges ahead of Bishop Edward might generate the sin of “envy”, CTC would encourage them to be more Christian in spirit. Lent falls early this year. Wind and ice cold rain will not be uncommon, and short dark days the norm.
The Bishop recognises this, but even in the darkest cloud finds a silver lining: “There will be moments when I’m cycling into a vicious wind on a busy A36 in the evening twilight that I’ll think I’m mad for doing this! On the other hand, you really appreciate the slow arrival of warmer weather and especially the lighter evenings once the clocks go forward.
“Another great positive of living without a car is the time it creates for really switching off. We live in a world where instant communication can leave us feeling permanently harassed and stressed. Cycling gives me space to think properly and to pray deeply.”
Bishop Edward will blog regularly during Lent at http://bishopedward.wordpress.com/, and here at CTC we wish him every success over the next six weeks of Lent.