Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blessing Bikes

"Would you be willing to join some other local clergy in the blessing of the bikes?" an email asked me a month ago. I said "yes" not knowing what all was involved until I arrived last night on State Street, downtown Santa Barbara. The street was blocked off, with the Farmers' Market south of us and bicycles of all sorts parked in a corral in front of a stage. A local band played with energy and then we were invited up on stage: a Roman Catholic priest, a Chumash Indian sage (holy woman), a young woman rabbi and me. Each of us was invited to offer a blessing from our own traditions. The rabbi read a traveling prayer in Hebrew. The Chumash sage lit incense in a shell and waved an eagle feather through the smoke chanting a prayer to "grandfather" in her unique language. I prayed referencing God leading and guiding his people through the wilderness into safety of the promised land. And the priest referenced holy gestures (sign of the cross, touching medallions and the sprinkling of holy water). When it was done (15 minutes) the crowd clapped and the host thanked us for making him feel calmer and safer. And I went home.
I am a bit perplexed about what happened and what I did and did not do. We were clearly a mixed group. Was I co-opted by the culture or was I engaging the culture to consider God's presence in the most normal act of riding bicycles? That's why being a pastor is so much fun...and so perplexing!


At 8:02 PM , Blogger Kalon L said...

I think it's a misnomer: it was really a blessing of the "bicyclists". And if one can pray for others in a public forum, I would say we should go for it! Thanks Don.

At 9:22 AM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Thanks for your affirming word Kalon!

At 1:11 PM , Anonymous Rick in TX said...

I agree with Kalon (although it wasn't clear from what you wrote, if the people blessed by you were "bicyclists" or "bikers" - I had the impression as I read that they were the latter). You brought the presence and grace and name of Christ into the marketplace of ideas. Good job!


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