I did it! A termís commuting from Crowmarsh to Oxford by bicycle, a round trip of 29 miles, 1600 miles on the speedo, fitter than Iíve been in years. 55 minutes of reflection, prayer, irritation at those drivers who donít seem to care, or notice, or both, numbness in the days of biting cold.
There have been moments of good humour: the fieldmouse that managed to cross the A4074 during the rush hour; Rotary volunteers collecting from a captive audience at the traffic lights in Wallingford.
There have also been moments of sadness: the endless dead animals, foxes, rabbits, badgers; the aggression of drivers who think that travelling at 70 instead of the statutory 60 will make inroads into their lateness - 2 minutes saved between Wallingford Bridge and Magdalene Bridge!
But I wouldnít have it any other way. Itís my daily retreat: an opportunity to thank God for this amazingly rich and varied world; a mobile chapel, where I can pray for my neighbours and friends (and those infuriating drivers); a retreat, into which mobile phones, doorbells and TV advertising cannot penetrate; a planning space, where my best lectures get written.`
Itís very easy for us to get absorbed in the busyness of this world, whether it is the daily grind of a lengthy commute, the endless string of domestic chores, or the retirement commitments which make us wonder how we ever found the time to go to work. We live in a world where people measure our value by what we do, and thatís often the first question we ask someone: ĎWhatís your job?í
Jesus, busy as he was, found time to stop and reflect in the most surprising of places: by a well while travelling, on the prow of a fishing boat in a storm, at a dinner party with a prostitute crying at his feet. We canít recover the measured life of a medieval monk or hermit, or put aside time for a three day retreat in this crazy modern world of ours.
But we can, if we will, find interludes in our life where we can stop rushing (in our heads at least), savour life, think of God, and pray for our enemies. And we might also knock down a few less wild animals, or wild cyclists, as we begin to pay more measured attention to Godís world around us.