One of the gifts of summer is the ability to ride my bike. The St. Casimir Parish rectory where I live is located just north of Stevens Point and so I have easy access to country roads. I usually try to take a ride in the early hours of the day when the temperature is cooler and the traffic less busy. (Full disclosure: it is also the time of the day when I have more energy.) Many have asked how long and how far I go. The answer to both questions is as long as the derriere endures.
Bike rides provide an array of sights, sounds and smells. Most of the time there is an encounter with creatures of the woods – deer, turkeys and scores of avian species. Dogs signal that they are aware of my presence but are not interested in any pursuit. I am especially impressed with the flowers along the roads – goldenrod, black eyed Susan, oxeye daisies, orange day lilies, and many others I can’t name. There is an entire palette of colors along the roadways. Unfortunately, there is also much detritus that mars the beautiful landscapes – beer/soda cans, food wrappings/containers, and, since COVID, used face masks and hand sanitizer containers.
When Pope Francis issued his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, he sounded an alarm about the reality of climate change, but also challenged us to be sensitive to how we can care for nature in our little part of God’s garden. At the very beginning of the encyclical he wrote:
I hope that the summer will be long and warm so that I can continue to enjoy the beauty of the earth, our “common home.” I will continue to pray that our government leaders will recognize the need to act to combat climate change, and I will pray that all of us will take better care of this earth of ours.
-Fr. Dennis Lynch