Assistant Minister's Corner - Rev. Monica Dobbins

05 September 2019

For my daughter’s birthday this year, my spouse and I decided to buy her a new bike. We’re so fortunate to live in a neighborhood where people can ride their bikes in relative safety, and where there are interesting places to go. Just one problem, daughter says: who is going to ride to these interesting places with her? 

So it only made sense for me to get a bike as well. I picked out a cute seven-speed in light blue, gave it a basket and a coffee-mug-holder, and when it arrived, she and I hit the streets. There’s no feeling like pedaling down the street, with the wind whipping by, sun streaming through the trees, riding through sprinklers, lifting your feet off the pedals to coast for a moment. 

Since we live in an upstairs apartment, it’s an effort to get the bikes up and down the stairs, so we have to be intentional about our bike riding. Sometimes it seems like more effort than it’s worth. We decide how far we want to ride today by remembering that, at the end of the ride, we will have to carry those bikes up the stairs. Even more exercise! Yet the sun, the breeze, the cold water, make it all worth it. 

These times that we live in are so oppressive. There’s so much pain in the world, and so much of it seems intentionally cruel, as though there are people just sitting around thinking of ways to hurt each other. Our neighbors and loved ones who live on the margins are in even greater danger than ever before, and the work to which our conscience calls us requires more of us, physically and emotionally. The injustices in the world can feel so overwhelming that to set them aside and engage in rest or the pursuit of joy comes with feelings of guilt or waste. 

But if we do not take time to enjoy the good things of life, then what are we working so hard for? I believe that life is not meant to be only hardship and pain; we are meant to enjoy it too. We don’t need to spend a lot of money or time; just appreciating the small joys of life is enough to sustain our work for a better world. Most especially, we need time to appreciate each other, the ones we love, as well as the stranger. But we have to be intentional about making space for joy. If we leave it to chance, we might find ourselves sitting on the sidelines. 

When the heavy lifting of justice work seems like too much effort, let us remind ourselves and each other that the sun, the wind, and the water are present with us in the work; and that none of us has to ride alone. Doing the work of making the world a better place can remind us of the goodness that is already here: that we are blessed beyond measure by the beauty of the world and the love that we share.