On your bike, Rector!
Many of you already know that I am leaving after Evensong on Easter Day to take a holiday. I shall be cycling from The Hook of Holland to Istanbul, some 2900km over 29 days. The ride is going to be in support of the MS Society and The Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Historic Churches Trust (of which I’m a trustee) and if you would like to support those charities then you can do so using the link below. In addition to the ride I am going blond to support the charity - be not alarmed - it is only for the duration of my trip and before panic sets in remember what the Lord said to Samuel: For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Sam 16.7.
The Lord does indeed not see as we see, and does regard the hidden depth and purposes of the heart. In these days running up to Easter let us pledge our hearts to Him again and strive for his righteousness to be among us in our public worship and private faith.
One of the questions people often ask me is: ‘when did you begin cycling?’ The answer is on my 8th birthday when I got my first bike; a BMX which my Dad had spray-painted bright green. Dad taught me to ride and I can recall him running behind me holding the underside of the saddle to give me the stability and confidence to push ahead on my own.
Cycling and all things ecclesiastical formed a union through bell-ringing. I had started to learn in the autumn of 1998 at St. Mary’s Hitchin and caught the bell-ringing bug pretty badly. Most evenings and weekends I would be off on my bike visiting a ringing practice somewhere in Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire. This was of course long before the days of my having a mobile phone and so I’d call my parents to let the know where I’d got to. Public Houses were always a good place to stop and make a call because they’d usually let you use the phone for free (perhaps I discovered my fondness for them at that time too).
Bell-ringing was gradually joined by a love of visiting and cataloguing churches, this led to a fairly confirmed atheist (as I was then), having my heart strangely warmed by the invitation from a number of kind Christians, to start attending Divine Service. God’s grace won and the rest is history.
The love of being on two-wheels has continued to remain a passion and has fused closely with aspects of my personal faith, and every year I try to get away for a few weeks to make a pilgrimage of one sort or another to nurture and look after the state of my soul. When you receive your ordination, your private and personal faith becomes public property, and if you’re not careful everything becomes too ‘outward and visible’ rather than ‘inward and spiritual’. People these days talk about mindfulness and looking after your mental health, I think it is so important for all Christians, especially those in public ministry, to try and get the balance right. The balance for me is nurtured, in part, on two wheels.