There is nothing quite like riding on a perfect summer morning, along a beautiful stretch of road, most especially along the Long Island Sound’s shoreline. The temperature is a comfortable 70 degrees. The morning breeze offers a cooling balm. On some mornings, the wind can be felt at your back, pushing you along the road (although that inevitably means that there is a headwind on the return journey). The legs feel strong and the cadence of the pedal stroke does not waver. There is nothing left to do but breathe in the air and sense the rhythm of God’s creation.
There is nothing quite like the perspective it offers, the balance it provides. The religious person responds to the world in general and to life in particular with gratitude. Judaism’s fundamental posture is to shout blessings at everything we see, from blossoming flowers, the foods we eat, the joys we share and even the deaths we witness.
The second century sage Rabbi Meir taught that we are supposed to say 100 blessings every day. Although one might think this to be excessive, and perhaps even exhausting, the intention is clear. If your heart is filled with blessings, if your tongue recites thanks then the world appears more whole. The world appears like those perfect mornings, as if an artist’s hand paints it. God’s fingerprint is there beyond the waves.
The brokenness is lifted.
The heart can indeed be shaped by the blessings we utter. The soul can be refreshed by the wind at your back.
Albert Einstein famously said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Faith and cycling are more similar than people realize.
Sometimes all you have to do is get out there and ride your bicycle. Get out there and restore your sense of balance. Get out there to breathe in the wonder of the natural world.
Sometimes all you have to do is get out there and shout a blessing, or two or three.
The Jewish tradition offers: “Blessed are You Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the great sea.”