08 Jun, 2012

Changing of the guard.

Great adventures do not begin or end. They are grafted into the eternal so seamlessly that vestiges of their temporal nature become buried beneath the bark of lore and legend. Like great relationships or timeless narratives, the ends we use to smolder their ashes seem only to fan the flames. Such is the fire from which we walk.

After a year of living at the mercy of others, I am left overflowing with gratitude. So many people have contributed to this community. Some are no longer with us. Many others have gone on to start their own means of creating dialogue about climate change or seeking our deepest longing. Whatever you are doing now, I want to thank you for being a part of this incredible journey. However small or large you consider your contribution, please know that you have been a part of something that has inspired deep discussion and mindful action. Thanks! Last Sunday, I was back at my home church– Thad’s in Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of preaching again, as I did at the beginning of the trip. It was an honor and a comfort to be back in that community, where I hope to be for a while to come. Thanks to everyone at Thad’s for your support!

As you no doubt know, this will be my last official blog post. My year without flying or driving ended on Tuesday. Over the last few days, I’ve had a handful of occasions to ride in cars and even drive a little. I was not anxious to do so, and I now understand why. As I speed across town or down a highway, I feel that I am being robbed of my life. It’s like eating a cheap food when you’ve had the good stuff. Although my diet continues to be primarily plant-based, let me give an analogy from outside of that diet. The best beef I’ve ever tasted was a filet straight from the Pampa in Argentina. It was full of flavor but completely unadorned. Amazing. When I was a child, I consumed countless TV dinners with Salisbury Steak as the main course. That meat was scarcely recognizable as animal, and it was usually doused in some sort of gelatinous gravy. It’s hard to go back to that once you’ve had the Argentine filet. Believe me: most car rides are TV dinners compared to bike rides.

The bicycle allows for so many encounters that are impossible to catch in a car. Here, I caught a side of Compton I had previously missed.

I suspect much of that is due to connection. In a car, you are in your own world. Yes, you have choices, but those choices are less meaningful than you might think. Often, the isolation results in mindlessness. If you roll down the windows, you can feel the breeze. If you turn off the stereo, you might hear the birds or breeze. But you can’t feel the road. You don’t smell the world you pass. You are virtually robbed of your time because you can’t meet it with your full mind. You are removed, unplugged, and disconnected.

That mindless practice extends into our lives. It is not simply a question of atrophy. We actually work at our frenzied thought and disconnection. Every once in a while, something comes along to shake us up. Maybe it’s romantic love. Maybe it’s learning. Maybe it’s the passing of a loved one. But in all of those things, we realize we are far more connected to the world around us than we previously imagined.  That connection enriches our lives.

Over the past year, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of shifting our discussion around climate change. Rather than emphasizing prevention, I believe it is time to equip our communities to deal with the consequences of climate change. That entails a focus on issues that are regionally prominent. Learn how your community will be affected by these changes, and try to minimize the effects and potential suffering. In the process, you’ll find yourself more connected to God, neighbor, and land. You’ll see how small actions like pedal strokes can lead you 11,530 miles down the road. You’ll look back on a crowd of individuals acting in small ways to contribute to a great journey. You will wake to find your being entwined with all around you—from neighbor to creator and back. And you’ll see how the love at work in all things finds a way where we see none.

Until we meet again

More deeply connected

Than we thought possible