I am a bicycle commuter. Starting in 1999, my main source of transportation has been my bicycle (actually in 1998 even before I moved to Boston I rode to work from time to time on the unfriendly roads of Virginia). With the exception of a couple of steep hills and rainy days, bicycling the 3.35 mile route is the most pleasant — and quickest — way to work. Generally I can pedal my way to work in 25 minutes while walking the same route takes 50-60 minutes. The T, which sadly doesn’t follow a straight line between my home and workplace, takes at least 45 minutes, and often takes a whole lot longer (although once, just once, I managed to get to work on the T in 20 minutes, but I’ve never been able to duplicate the feat).

Generally I commute on bicycle roughly from late March to mid-October. This year is a bit topsy-turvy. I had problems with my bicyle all summer long and it was either in the shop for repairs or I was too frustrated to ride it. Eventually I learned the problem was that there is a crack in the frame — a nearly irreparable problem, and a dangerous one at that. So in early October I purchased a new bike from the wonderful folks at Broadway Bicycle School. My current bike is the Redline Conquest Sport which may be the best bike I’ve ever had, and I highly reccomend it for bicycle commuters. I’ve been riding it almost every work day since.

Yesterday morning it felt like winter for the first time after unusually mild weather throughout November. In fact, it snowed. Today, a brisk but sunny day I braved the cold and pedaled to work. I’m trying to be less of a wuss about riding in the winter so this was a good step in that direction. I figure I can ride on the milder and clearer days in the winter, at least as far as the nearest subway stop which cuts the bike commute in half.

I think I can handle the cold and the wind (and even some precipitation), but there are two things I worry about:

  • Ice — When I was college I rode my bike across a patch of ice and before I knew what was happening I fell straight off the back of my bike! I landed on my backbone and it smarted for a long while, but fortunately there was no serious injury. Still, it was so sudden and so stunning I’ve been wary about ever riding in icy conditions again.
  • Snow — The main concern of snow in the Boston area is that it piles up on the side narrowing the roads, and the bike paths where they exist, thus taking away the places I usually ride. Motorists generally are unhappy about sharing the roadway with bicyclists and I certainly don’t want to be among the cars in slippery conditions.

The ride today felt good and I feel confident about continuing to ride as long as possible. I’ll update here with news about my fall/winter bicycling commuter experiment.

Happy New Year!

In trying to get rid of the default first post entered by Word Press, I ended up editing the post instead of deleting it and starting a new post. As a result, my first post of yesterday is dated 19 November. It occurs to me that as long as I have no readers, I can just keep editing and editing until its perfect and no one will be the wiser.

The title of this post — dated 5 December — probably makes it look like I’m once again editing an old post. In fact I’m just celebrating the start of the liturgical new year: Advent. This is one of my favorite times of the year, the weeks of preparation for Christmas. I’ve recently read Mass, May Crowning, and Merton: And Other Reasons I Love Being Catholic by Liz Kelly and Advent is near the top of my list of things I love about Catholicism. The traditions of advent include the advent wreath with the a candle lit for each week, and the advent calendar where a little paper door is opened each day of December leading to the Nativity. I like it a lot better than counting down in “shopping days.”

On Sunday I flew back from Virginia and due to engine trouble my flight was delayed 5 hours and I missed Mass. Each year I like to see if I can make it to Mass every Sunday of the liturgical year. Missing the first Mass of the liturgical year is kind of a bummer because that means it will be a whole year before I can try again. Despite being forced to keep the Sabbath holy in Newport News/Williamsburg Airport, I am making an effort to make this Advent at time of greater contemplation.

Today’s first reading from Isaiah contain’s these famous words:

They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.

Isaiah 2:4

World peace is often discussed as an ideal and something worth achieving. It’s certainly the goal of many a beauty pagaent contestent. In my life, I’ve oftened imagined movies I’d like to make. One movie concept I came up with would be called And Then Peace Broke Out. I see at as an anthology of short films by different writers set in different cities around the world telling stories of what life would be like after peace on earth. Of course, I never learned how to become a producer or a director so the world will never see this film. I also never came up with my own vision of what peace on Earth would be like.

This is likely due to the fact that peace on Earth is difficult to imagine. Can anyone on Earth imagine what true peace would be like? I can only approximate what it would be like with images from cheezy tv specials of people hugging, sharing food, and feeling the freedom from fear and hatred. But really it’s impossible to know what peace would be like. Imagine 6 billion people agreeing to study war no more – none of them fighting, none hungry, none oppressed. A lot of people would have to make a lot of sacrifices to make that change, including many who are good at heart and have no idea how their lifestyle causes harm to others.

I expect I’m one of those people. What would I give up for world peace? It sounds like an easy question, because there’s so much to gain. I need to start with some small action to advance peace in my own corner of the world. What can I do?

One thing I’ve long wanted to do is get involved with the Catholic peace organization Pax Christi. This advent they’ve provided resources to help focus prayer on peace in Iraq.

To close out this post on Advent, I’d like to reprint a poem by Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan I read recently at National Catholic Reporter.


By Daniel Berrigan

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss —
This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction —
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever —
This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world —
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers.
This is true: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young shall see visions,
and your old shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and
peace are not meant for this earth and for this history —
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.
Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.

Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:
Jesus Christ — the Life of the world.