by Fr. Jason H. Laguerta
On a cycle you’re in the scene, not just watching it.
- Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
I fell in love with two wheels when I was around seven or eight years old. One of my earliest memories of childhood is that of my father and I riding a bicycle going to the farm to secure the harvest. While my father worked in the rice field, I was trying to learn how to ride. The bike was too heavy and the seat was too high. I could only step on the pedal with one leg and push with the other. But that was enough for me.
Riding is a compelling metaphor for life. Robert Pirsig says that “in a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.”
Modern life has detached us to what is real. We go virtual and artificial most of the time. The artificial weather in an air-conditioned room or car makes us believe that it is cold when it is scorching outside. This adds to our daily disconnect. We look at life through a frame as if we are not part of the drama and the unfolding story of joys and pains. We become bystanders unable to connect in spite of technology. The screen monitor becomes the smokescreen for a growing loneliness and alienation.
When Jesus became man, God decided he won’t look at humanity from the window of eternity. He wanted to take it and drink it all. He’s not standing by. He will walk. He will ride. On a young donkey yes. But he did ride. To tell us that he wants no barriers between us and him. No glass pane. No chasm of up there and down below. He became real. A person. A friend.
Let us start our journey with Jesus. Let us begin our path to discovery. Let us ride to encounter.