When we met Shane Claiborne, it was like meeting a little bit of Jesus. He is real, down-to-earth, easy to talk to, and gently gets his message out. He spoke at First United Methodist Church in Tempe, Az., and then at our church, CrossRoads United Methodist. Young people came from all over the Valley to hear this modern-day prophet speak about the church, the world, and about loving God and God’s people.
We were asked to provide extra care for the earth before he arrived to counteract the fact that he was getting on a plane and polluting the air to be with us. Our church rode bikes, took the light rail, and tried out alternate forms of transportation for the week prior to his coming.
Personally, I rode my bike to work for that week. Not a big sacrifice, since I live less than a mile from work. But I did have to figure a few things out. How do I carry my briefcase and computer on a bike? (I got a backpack, and stuffed my office needs and my lunch into a very heavy, and very full pack.) What do I wear to work? Wearing my usual business attire didn’t seem to work because, well, I couldn’t wear my dress, and my pants got stuck in the spokes, and my heels didn’t do so well on the petals. One day, a trial run, I fell over sideways trying to cross Central Avenue because my belled trousers got stuck on the bike as I was trying to stop. Thank God, there was no traffic, and no one saw my silliness as I spilled out all over Central. But, what to wear was a problem. How do you dress professionally and ride a bike? (I started wearing jeans and flats). And, the last problem was the most vain of all. How do you wear a helmet and not have a flat-head of hair at work? (I took helmet off in neighborhoods and wore it only in busy streets…and had hair stuff at work to fix my vanity problem.) I never thought riding my bike could be so complicated.
The funniest day on the bike was the first day. It was the day we had a golf-ball sized hail storm in Phoenix. So I rode in the morning with cold rain pelting down as I peddled fast so that I could get there soon. And at the end of the day, I waited out the hail storm, leaving when it was mostly over, praying that I wouldn’t get a concussion from the balls of ice falling from heaven. I made it home fine, but felt like I’d been through an adventure.
But, on the bike I got to see Phoenix in a different light. I saw more faces of the homeless folk, who were also riding their bikes. They smiled at me, barely recognizing the CrossRoads pastor as I helloed them passing by…later we had many talks about our bikes. I saw cars flash by and noticed that they missed so much in their hurry. I noticed the streets, the families and the homes, the businesses that were closing, and the ones that were thriving. I saw my town in a more intimate way…all because my wheels went slower.
Shane is a famous Christian. You can check him out online. He is known for living his faith, not just talking about it. He moved into a poor neighborhood, for example, so that he could make a difference daily. He traveled to Iraq as a person of peace. He learned from Mother Teresa that your life’s actions speak louder than all your words combined. He is famous because he writes and because he is real.
I saw Jesus in him. And that was enough.
Faith, hope, love,