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Bishop's Thought

By Dr Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury

I gave up the car for Lent. I wanted to do something positive. I don’t find giving up cake a great spiritual help (and not easy either!) I wanted to say something about our responsibility for God’s creation.

It was – mostly – enjoyable.  Rolling along Wiltshire’s beautiful lanes is such a pleasure. There was one afternoon when I got soaked as if someone was throwing buckets of water over me.

I do not pretend that I have saved the planet by saving 1500 miles of car fuel. It did raise a lot of interest in all kinds of places.

My blog was read by people in 45 countries, and national TV was sufficiently intrigued to do a piece about my carless Lent for Songs of Praise.

Some have asked if it was a Lenten and spiritual experience. Yes, it was.

First of all, I have always puzzled as to how giving up chocolate relates to Christ on the cross or in the wilderness.

Secondly, I am not one of those who feel themselves constantly in touch with God. I am one whose faith is enlivened by glimpses of the divine. I certainly had more glimpses on the bike than driving the car. Someone once wrote a poem saying prayer was like a kingfisher – the sudden unexpected  heart-lifting flash of gold and blue.

On the bike every journey becomes a pilgrimage: a time to converse with God. A car journey is so much more utilitarian, our aim to follow the satnav until we reach our destination as soon as we can.

Cycling reminds me that, as R S Thomas wrote, “Life is not hurrying on to a receding future”.

I think that also means that I can leave a decision about next Lent until next year.

+Edward Ramsbury

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Bishop of Ramsbury
Bishop of Ramsbury