The morning is glorious, a perfect day for a practice ride. I’ve got a new trike and I need to practice because the balance is different than a bicycle. Although it’s been over 15 years since I rode a bike, all those old ways my body knows of balance and saving a slide in the gravel or a fall come back as though there had not been an absence from riding. My ears rejoice to hear the sound of the click while coasting. My entire being rejoices at movement again. The dog barks annoyed that I am not taking her for a ride yet. I have to practice more before giving her a ride. Also, her helmet and doggles will have to be ordered. The helmet is on its way the doggles, well, figured I best break it to her slowly. She does not like dog accouterments.
Though the trike is a great ride and easy to pedal (I’m only practicing on the flat part of the road for now), I’m breathing as though I biked miles. Asthma does that to people. I knew that if I were to ever be able to ride again, I would have to find some kind of electric three-wheeled vehicle. Brian, at Charlotte Cycles, helped me find the right electric trike for me. I will write more about that blessing in my personal blog. This part is for my religious blog though.
What does a trike have to do with Palm Sunday? It’s not something I would have considered before. The weather here, however, has been tricky. It always is this time of year. On Monday, when the trike was delivered, it was spring. The next day it snowed AND it stuck. Up here on Beech Mountain, we got an inch and the wind was up and
howling like all the March poems speak about. Saturday was pretty enough, but allergies had me stuck inside. Today, the allergy meds were working and no asthma attacks. I was dying to practice riding.
While I was out in the sun, I enjoyed the movement and the beauty of the day. Birdie, my dog, was happy to sniff around the chipmunk mansion and the stairs near the parking area. The only time she got upset was when I got out of sight. That girl loves to ride! Because I was concentrating on the feel of the trike and trying to remember all that Brian told me about trike safety, Palm Sunday wasn’t on my mind at all.
But when I came in and the new neighborhood bird sang loud and proud, I thought how wonderful to have the experience of practicing a ride on a trike on a Palm Sunday. It’s a perfect day to ride. The church I attend, Church of the Holy Cross Episcopal, sent out
these wonderful palms to each of us for today. As is the custom at our church, this was done with thoughtfulness, intention, and prayer. How do I know about any of that? Because as I have lived with these people of G-d, they have shown me that they practice what they teach. More importantly, it is not preaching or preachy for them, simply a way of being in the world, being in community with one another.
When Jesus got on a colt/donkey to ride through Jerusalem, Jesus was practicing what he teaches. Humility and eye to eye real-life messages that made a difference to those who hungered for something more. Many thought that Jesus, the historical person, might be like a new David and be a warrior. Jesus wanted the people to know that though he came to lead the people, he was not above them. Jesus was on their level.
I’ve known this every time we celebrate Palm Sunday. Yet, it ends up being such an exultant celebration in our churches that we too might think that Christ coming into our ordinary lives is one too high for us to reach or connect with in a real way. As I rode the trike this morning, I realized when I came back in that the trike puts me eye-to-eye with my neighbor. It lifts me up in some ways because I’m shorter when standing. But in no way does it lift me above another.
Jesus’ ride on that young equus wasn’t about WHICH animal was ridden, but the fact that the animal was young and therefore, kept Jesus at the same level as the humans laying down the branches along the way. Jesus could have been riding a zebra and the effect would have been the same. It wasn’t about what kind of Equus, but that Jesus was being vulnerable in a crowd of people who wanted him to be war-like as King David was a warrior. We all have seen the movies or been around how intimidating a warrior’s horse can be. If you’ve never stood beside a full-grown horse, you can’t know for sure how intimidating it can be. Jesus did not want to intimidate those gathered alongside the road.
If nothing else today, perhaps we should focus not so much on the hosannas that the people lifted up as Jesus rode, but at the courage, faith, and vulnerability that Jesus exhibited on that ride through town. We all are being humbled by COVID, and in many ways, humiliated. That’s not the way of Jesus. Everything we read about this person many call “savior” is that the historical Jesus was humble and calling the religious and non-religious alike to choose to humble themselves and be good neighbors and live in compassion. We’ve got a long way to go. We can start today.
This species includes zebras, donkeys, and horses.