For those who don’t know, my wife M is—in addition to being a gifted priest and a wonderful wife and mother—a dedicated athlete. She is a great distance runner; she beat her Boston Marathon qualifying time by over 20 minutes. In the last couple of seasons, she has been focusing on triathlons. She’s easing into them and has only done a few, but in those few has earned a spot in the age-group nationals coming up in Milwaukee.
I don’t worry about her so much when she goes out to run or swim. What concerns me is when she goes out to bike.
It’s dangerous to cycle here in the city. For the most part, she goes out to the surrounding areas where the roads are wider and there are fewer cars, but even out there it’s not terribly safe. There are a few areas where there are dedicated bike lanes on wider roads that offer cyclists a margin of safety—one being the wide roads in the Roland Park area of the city.
Despite precautions, there have been a number of cyclists hit in the Baltimore area by cars in the last year or so with very little repercussions on the part of the offending drivers, and the cycling/tri communities are very unhappy with the situation.
You can only imagine, therefore, how our household is responding to the news coming out about the suffragan bishop killing a cyclist in a hit-and-run accident. It’s been reported in the Living Church here and in the local press with more detail here.
No one around here knows the full story yet. We are torn between passions of justice and mercy.
One aspect of our calling as Christians is forgiveness, second chances, and clinging to the promise of the resurrection. Even when we believe that the story has ended—as on the first Good Friday—God may yet not be done with it.
Another aspect of our calling as Christians is about the process of transformation. Sin is a reality in life. We are called to lay it bare in confession—if only to ourselves—and to seek transformation into something different. Something better. Something that knows the truth, has made the decision to be aware of the truth, and is prepared to live that truth. In so doing, we demand justice on our behalf and on behalf of others. For justice and truth are deeply connected, frequently being two sides of the same coin.
For us in the Diocese of Maryland this story wan’t be going away anytime soon. I suspect there may be implications for the broader church as well. There are questions opened up by this tragedy in several areas:
- questions about the process for selecting bishops, about who knows what about candidates for bishop (M was at the electing convention—nothing was mentioned about candidates’ prior legal woes)
- questions about the role and place of clergy (bishops included) as the leaders of communities of moral growth
- questions about addiction and recovery in the church
For now we pray for all involved. And tomorrow we go to a vigil ride for the slain cyclist; clergy have been asked to wear their collars.