I grew up paying little attention to the environment around me. My family strived to live simply – not necessarily for the environmental benefits, but because it saved money and resources to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Something changed for me in high school and then college, where working to lower my carbon footprint and to live a more eco-friendly life became an essential part of my spiritual existence. I began to see my Christian faith as one that was centered on peace and justice for all. I began to discover that most peace and justice causes are often influenced by environmental realities, and working toward solutions usually involved starting with care for the earth.
It was in this new space that my friends began exploring the world around us on the two wheels of a bicycle instead of a car. We discovered that the slower pace often allowed for a deeper connection to the geography and people of a given region.
I headed to Southern California for graduate school and was faced with some of the troubling realities of life in the Pacific Southwest. Water shortages, smog and pollution, and overpopulation were in my face whether I liked it or not. It seemed obvious that for the sake of future generations we had to work to make things different. My wife and I started being more intentional about a whole host of things – from the food that we bought, to choosing to walk more or ride our bikes, or even to hang our clothes on a line instead of using the clothes dryer. I also met and was influenced by theologian Ched Myers, and his work around Watershed Discipleship.
During my time in California I also took several bike trips around California – one of my favorites being a five day trip to visit five different minor league baseball stadiums which covered more than 300 miles of sunny California landscape. This trip combined many different interests including bicycles, baseball, craft beer, and travel.
My current role as a campus pastor for 3rd Way Collective at Penn State is one that is defined less about spreading theological doctrine on campus, and more about creating spaces for conversations to take place around issues connected to peace, justice, and faith. This trip is the perfect intersection of those three things, and I can’t wait to make that first pedal rotation.
Read Ben’s guest post about bike trip Day 2.
MANY THANKS to our 2015 silver sponsors Sun Directed and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor,
and bronze sponsors Freeze Thaw Cycles and the Rock Ethics Institute for their support!
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