For Americans, September 11 needs no title or explanation. It’s a date frozen in time, an experience that holds painful memories, and there are no words to express the shock that made America stand still. It is a day that only silence can fill. Yet, we are resilient, hope-filled people!
Hope and Resilience are powerful words with deep meaning! Hope and Resilience was the theme for the Cycling with Sisters 60-mile bike ride that took place on September 11, 2020, from Chesterton to South Bend, Indiana. For the A Nun’s Life team, September 11 now holds a bit of excitement and great memories from our participation in this amazing event.
It all started the night before the ride when The NL team, along with two women religious, five collaborators, and several support members, gathered together to take the opportunity to get to know one another and to bond in our passion for the social justice issues which the ride was built upon. True excitement was building and we wondered if any of us would be able to sleep.
Then after many months of planning and adapting to the challenges of COVID-19, the day of the ride finally arrived! September 11 was here with new energy, new hope, and deep resilience! The riders and support team gathered together in a circle of prayer greeted by the rising sun. And because of the brilliance of technology, the online world joined in this circle, too. The energy was abundant as we opened our hearts and focused our minds on the overall theme of the day: Hope and Resilience! We recalled the individuals, families, and communities who have been affected by the current Coronavirus pandemic, as well as those people whose lives were forever changed on September 11, 2001, especially remembering the thousands who died.
Thirteen miles later, the group gathered in Michigan City for the second stop which focused our prayerful energy on efforts to end human trafficking. It is a heinous crime and one that is thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. We remembered the thousands of innocent women, men, and children who are victims of exploitative labor and sexual abuse. We also recalled the efforts of many religious congregations and collaborators working to bring an end to human trafficking. Following prayer, the riders eagerly took to their bikes for the next 8 miles meditating on the content of this prayer.
The group then gathered at Soldiers Memorial Park in La Porte, IN for the third prayer stop to focus on an end to racism and hate. We recalled the deaths of several individuals over the past year because of the color of their skin. It serves as a reminder that we are in the midst of two pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. Our prayer awakened us to the fact that faith requires us to not only speak out but also to take action to end the racism in our own hearts and in our society. We recalled the work of religious congregations and collaborators that give effort to engage people of all color in conversation and to grow in reverence and respect of one another.
Arriving in New Carlisle after pedaling 38 miles, the riders gathered together in prayer at the fourth stop standing in solidarity with our Earth and all of God’s creation. We also renewed our commitment to preserve, protect, and reverence creation, and to effectively address climate change and other threats to life on earth. For more than 40 years, women religious and collaborators have been reflecting on the interconnectedness of all creation and educating ourselves and others about the integrity of creation and ecological sustainability.
The fifth and final stop brought the riders and support team into South Bend, Indiana, where we gathered to pray for immigration reform and support of immigrants. We were mindful of the millions of migrating peoples, refugees, and asylum seekers, looking for safety and a place to call home that supports their dreams and hopes. We recalled with gratitude the many women religious and collaborators who give of their time, income, and resources to be a healing and loving presence of God to those most in need.
It was a powerful day as we shared our good energy as people of hope, people of resilience, and people who desire positive change in our world. We even had sisters riding virtually from their homes! The internet allowed us to livestream the events of the day keeping the online world connected with the riders and bringing sisters together from across the United States and Canada to participate in the prayers from their convents.
But the ride is not over! Cycling with Sisters continues to ride on in Prince Edward Island, Canada, October 3 beginning 1:30p Atlantic Time. Sister Sue Kidd and Stephanie Manseau of the Congregation of Notre Dame, Montreal, Quebec, are organizing this 24-kilometer ride and all the prayer stops.
Visit the Cycling with Sisters Facebook page and support this group of riders by liking, sharing, and commenting on the posts. I also encourage you to join them on Facebook for the five prayer stops that will be livestreamed. Let our corner of the world resound with “Amen and Alleluia” for the sake of social justice and positive change for our times.
Cycling with Sisters-Facebook is the place to be on October 3! Mark your calendars!