This post has been a long time coming. I could blame my tardiness on a busy schedule. One likely culprit, however, is a denial that “The Ride” had to come to an end.
As these winter months descend upon us, my longing to be back on the road grows ever more. But it’s not just the joy of being on a bike for 70 miles a day. What I miss is the opportunity to speak on matters of poverty and social justice before a captive audience. Sure, I can and still do talk about these subjects. But there’s something about the novelty of 12 dedicated (possibly crazy) cyclists that capture people’s attention.
I miss the fellowship. The friendships that were made will go on for a lifetime. The stories that have been told and remain to be told. Sore muscles, ibuprofin, rainy days, hot days, rough roads, narrow shoulders, butt balm, enough Clif bars to feed armies, gorgeous scenery, amazing people, stories of hope, stories of despair, and pasta. And even more pasta. Did I forget to mention pasta?
Around the conclusion of the ride, the federal government had reported the troubling news that the number of Americans living in poverty had risen to 44 million. That means in the last year 3 million additional Americans found themselves at or below the poverty line.
Does that mean the ride was unsuccessful? Hardly. Over a half-million dollars was raised for Catholic Charities programs that serve those living on the margins of our economy. More importantly, our success was is shaping the hearts and minds of those with whom we came in contact. It was in changing perceptions about poverty so that people would understand “the poor” to be “our poor.” It was in motivating the uninformed and the disengaged to take action. It was in affirming those on the front lines in the battle against poverty — physical and spiritual poverty.
Yes, the actual ride has concluded; however, the journey to reduce poverty in America must continue. In a nation of abundance with immeasurable innovation, there is no reason why we cannot lift our fellow Americans out of poverty. It’s really a matter of the heart and a willingness to put our own personal/political/social agendas aside for a moment and look out for the common good.
To find out how you can become involved and join the journey to reduce poverty in America, please take the first step and visit the following: http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=1882
Up Next: A Tribute to my fellow riders and support team.