i've finally nurtured back to life a long lapsed habit that i love--biking to work. this was not very often practical when i was a parish pastor, although my colleague fr. chris tiano regularly seemed to manage. oh well. i began biking to school and back when i was a kid in bozeman montana (we're going to bozeman to visit my parents july 2-10 and i'm looking foward to climbing in the mountians). i love the solitude, the focus and movement of my body moving on the bike, and the way everything is so present unlike when in a car behind glass. the smells (sweet and sour), the greetings from porches and honks of cars, and here, in new haven, the chance to ride through the downtown yale campus. it is, for me, a means of keeping body and soul together. one of the things that currently has me thinking about living faith as a way of life is exactly this question of how to practically keep body and soul together. how, in other words, to be in my life fully, but with the difference made by following jesus . miroslav volf wrote an excellent piece on this idea a few years ago titled 'soft difference' partly as an exegesis of 1 peter but also partly as a friendly response to stan hauerwas and will willimon who take the 'resident alien' metaphor to rhetorical excess. in comparison, given miroslav's terms, hauerwas and willimon would be advocating a 'hard difference.'
biking is a way for me to think about care of the body and care of the earth. it is a way to make a personal counterpart to my writing of letters to the president on behalf of energy policy that takes seriously the stewardship of the life of all creation and not simply the parochial interests of the united states or, more to the point, businesses in the united states. i'm thinking of those business for whom environmental stewardship requires huge investments of cash to meet tougher pollution standards. but ultimately god counts the costs and benefits of our lives, and if faith is not just a meaningful motivation for personal virtue but also a serious basis for debate about public policy then we are called to a more expansive view for accounting of costs and benefits, especially beyond current quarter profit margins. in morning prayer today, the psalmist declared, "the wicked crush your people; they murder the widow and the stranger and put the orphans to death" (94). harsh. but when we separate body and soul, we cooperate in opening the door to evil. so, the moral of this tale is: everyone, ride your bike! no, not really. but find ways to practice keeping body and soul together. it matters.
anon, and +peace