Biking and Listening
Bearing in mind that some move across our landscape as runners on foot and others prefer their motorcycles, the following represents the humble musings of a cyclist.
There’s one thing about cycling. It’s quiet.
It has the feel of being a “natural” kind of thing. No pollution. No worries about leaving behind a carbon footprint.
When you ride, you mainly hear the “whoosh” of the air going by your ears plus the sound of the bicycle bouncing over the uneven pavement. Here and now, there is also the “click-click” as gears change.
All in all, it’s pretty quiet – except for one other sound. That’s the noise of your own huffing and puffing if you’re pushing hard. Depending on your speed and your intensity, that heavy breathing can get pretty loud.
But something fascinating happened to me recently.
Riding past the prisons in Enfield, I followed the slope of Bilton Road heading towards the crest of the hill. From that point, you can see the mountains of Hampden. You may not see a million miles, but it does feel as if those mountains are way, way off in the distance.
Pushing hard to keep up a good speed, I was anticipating the view and a moment to stop pedaling.
Here’s what happened: I got to my spot at the top of the hill, stopped, and it was noisy!
The creaking of the bike was gone. The wind in my ears was gone. But my breathing wasn’t. I gulped and sucked in the air as fast as I could. I breathed that way for 15 seconds…maybe 30…Still no quiet.
And then, as my breathing returned to normal, it did get “quiet” in an unexpected way.
In fact, once I was still, I began to hear the breeze in the trees. Somewhere far off, I heard a branch crack. I stood more quietly and, suddenly, I began to hear the birds in the trees. Not too many because it’s already late Fall. But the quieter I got, the more I heard could hear the birds calling to each other. Some were close to me and, the more I listened, those far away also joined the singing.
Once I was still, the field and trees came alive. I heard the world all around me.
“Days pass and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles. God, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when Your Presence, like the quiet of an autumn field, alerts us to the world around us. Help us to remember, whenever we listen, that the bush burns unconsumed. And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder: How filled with awe is this place, and we did not know it.”
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