Bike 2019: Day 5.2 — reflections after Bealesville to Washington, DC

Blogger: Nathan Martin

For our final day of riding I offer four brief reflections:
Sustainability is complicated. Poolesville Green organized an evening conversation at the Am Kolel Retreat Center that included a member of the Poolesville commission, a local developer, a utility expert, and some local environmental activists who were exploring the challenges of expanding solar generation capacity in Poolesville, MD in general and in the 93,000 acre agricultural reserve in specific. There was no general agreement among the group but witnessing the many voices and perspectives around the table was important. Just because there are no simple solutions does not negate the obligation to step up.

* Our traditions can nourish us for the path ahead. Congregation Adat Shalom again treated this year’s group of riders to lunch and respite along today’s ride. And we had the pleasure of hearing Rabbi Fred offer impactful Torah (Jewish teaching) about sustainability. He reminded us that (1) we are temporary user’s of the earth but it is not ours but God’s (Ps. 24:1), (2) that we are called upon not to waste resources (3) that concern for economically vulnerable needs to be at the center of any policy (Dtr16:20), (4) that God’s first covenant with Noah was with all humans and all species, (5) and that we need to implement the precautionary  principle in our environmental work, just like the Deuteronomist legislates that rooftops need to have a parapet to prevent unnecessary falls (Dtr 22:8). Finally, Rabbi Fred reminded us as he unrolled the Torah scroll that not only are the letters on the scroll a reflection of the divine but that we humans and the earth itself is a divine “text” that deserves reverence.

Our world is beautiful and inspiring. Perhaps it was the warmth of the sun on today’s ride, but we were able to appreciate the gentle beauty of farmland, forest canopy covered bike trails, and the Potomac river. It was a powerful reminder of why we are coming to Washington, DC, to fight for beauty around us.

* Relationships are central. It was a pleasure have the Philadelphia and State College groups come together to build connections during the course of our final day riding. While some of this connection was formal – we started the day with singing together – but mostly it was through casual conversation on the bikes and rest stops. It is good to appreciate both our diversity and our common purpose.

We close this final day’s blog with a prayer from our Pave the Way with Prayer that echoes Rabbi Fred’s teaching from the Philadelphia Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom which met us along the bike path early in our trip:

Treat the earth well
It was not given to you by your parent
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors.
We borrow it from our children.

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