Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Car-Free Conference Travel

Last week I went to Denver, CO to offer a Church on the Move workshop for the Evergreen Association of the American Baptist Churches, USA.  My options to get there were:

1. Rent a car and drive: 13 hours and 13 minutes.

2. Take a bus to Kansas City then another bus to Denver:  23 hours and 40 minutes.

3. Fly via Delta: 2 hours (organization paid for travel). 

I opted for the third choice.  

When I arrived in Denver I purchased a RTD day pass: $10.50.  The ticket took me to Union Station in downtown Denver.  Union Station is a gem of a building. I was most impressed with the train and bus connections available at the station.  I walked to my hotel, checked in, then rented a Lime bike and biked the Cherry Creek trail and the South Platte River trail.  After dinner I got back on the bus (remember, I had a day pass) and took it to REI to rent a bike for 24 hours (cost was $32). 

I don't know why I never thought of renting a bike from REI before.  The next morning I rode the bike back to Union Station and hopped on the Flatiron Flyer to Boulder, CO (another RTD day pass).  My bike fit on the front of the bus (they have space for an additional seven bikes on the bus, where luggage goes on other passenger buses).  

In Boulder I met a friend and biked a 20 mile loopdeloo route around and in and throughout the city.  What a city, but I gotta tell you I've never been in a city where every resident looked like they could complete an Ironman and/or kick my a$$.  

After a great ride and lunch, it was nice to put the bike back on the bus, sit back and relax as I was driven back to Denver!

The remaining two days I did not rent or ride another bike, instead I walked and walked and walked around the city.  The whole point of this post is to show that rather than spend $50-$100 a day on a car rental, purchase transit day passes and/or rent a bike, explore the sights and smells and delights of the city you are conferencing in.  Not only will you get to see and experience more the city, you'll also feel better - because nothing is worse than going to a conference, sitting all day and eating rubber chicken.  Move a little. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Sidewalking It: Blessing of the Animals (and Bikes) 2022

October 4th is the feast day of St. Francis, it's also the birthday of Walter Rauschenbusch.  Most churches observe the feast day of St. Francis with a Blessing of the Animals on the Sunday before the feast day.  Churches enjoy having sanctuaries full of pets on these Sundays.  

I too enjoy churches full of humans and non-humans. But this year I tried an experiment: holding the blessing outside of church on the sidewalk; and instead of doing it during a worship hour, offer it at an hour when pets are out and about, like 4-6pm when they are out for their evening walk...

So we offered the blessing of the animals on Tuesday, Oct. 4th, from 4-6pm on the sidewalk in front of the church.  It was a great experiment.  What happened?

At 4:01 a neighbor brought over their cat (in a cardboard box).  I asked them if they knew about the Wedge's cat tour, they did not.  And how many hours a day they spend watching cat videos on twitter.  Don't worry, we all do it.  

From there it was a steady stream of dogs and cats and bikes and a scooter.  I figure St. Francis would approve of bike and scooter blessings too.  

True, I did not bless as many animals as I would have if this had taken place during a Sunday morning worship service.  However, because we did it outside, on the sidewalk, on a Tuesday during the late afternoon, I was able to have several one-on-one in-depth conversations with neighbors (many I had never met, after being the pastor for 10 years - church doors are hard to open) about life, about their pets, about their pets' healing presence, how much joy they bring to life; we also talked about how wonderful it is to bike in the Twin Cities, the promise of bike buses (see below for more info), and how it is nearly impossible to find someone riding a bike without a smile on their face.  

But what about the people who do not live in the neighborhood, go to Judson, and want their pets blessed too?  I did not think about this until someone brought this point up to me.  It's a great point.  2023 will be a combo event.  Sunday morning pet blessing during worship AND a sidewalk blessing in the evening (probably on a Sunday too). 

What is a bikebus?  Check this out.

And if you are searching a good book on St. Francis, please check out Jon Sweeney's fabulous book: Feed the Wolf