How to Create Your Own Blessing of the Bikes
We get a lot of email from people, asking how they can start a Blessing of the Bikes event in their town. It’s easy!
Most important of all, do it YOUR way! Every Blessing of the Bicycles event that I’ve heard about is different, and that’s GOOD!
Here’s are a few suggestions:
Don’t be shy about asking your local house of worship to participate.
The funny thing about this event for me is that whenever I tell someone about it, some people take it very seriously, some are deeply offended, and some think it’s all a joke. I always say, “Whichever one of those attitudes works for you... good on you!”
We usually do our Blessing on a Saturday (the church is quite busy on Sundays, of course!) Our Blessing is in the spring -- the beginning of the bicycling season here.
We encourage people to wear their usual cycling attire, and to bring their bikes INSIDE. We invite Roller Bladers and (non-motorized) scooter riders to join us as well. Bicyclists who are wearing exposed shoe cleats are asked to remove their shoes at the door, so they don’t ruin the floor.
It’s nice to have some music as people enter. In the past we’ve used the church organist, an operatic vocalist, a bagpipe player...
The Reverend usually welcomes us and says a few kind words. One thing you have to figure out on your own is how religious you want this to be. We prefer to keep ours pretty low key, because we want people of all faiths to feel comfortable. You should do what feels right for you.
The Reverend often reads this passage from the Bible:
“And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels."
We have four cyclists walk a rider-less bicycle down the main aisle, followed by a moment of silence for bicyclists we have lost in the past year. Some years we have read out those names; other years we have not.
The Reverend walks down the aisle, sprinkling the bikes with Holy Water.
There are some parting words from the Reverend, and everyone is encouraged to ring their bicycle bells.
As the organizer of the event, I usually make a brief statement to thank the church. I also mention that we will be asking for a donation as people leave. (Volunteers hold the usual church collection baskets by the door). The donation is entirely voluntary, and it all goes to the church. I usually recommend that people donate as much as they spent the last time they stopped for a muffin and Gatorade while out riding.
There is music as we leave.
Again, the most important item of all is to do this YOUR way. The items above are just ideas to get you thinking -- create your own tradition, and let us know how you did!