God Likes Tricycles

            Motorized Bicycle Greenline Shimano Tourney Deluxe 26" Beach Cruiser - 7-Speed (DIY)

I remember maneuvering around my backyard standing on the back of a big red tricycle my older brother steered toward and away from dangers. We loved that tricycle, as demonstrated by the twenty old family photos which looked more like copies than examples of how often our parents thought it was a good idea to take pictures of us in identical poses on that bright red symbol of childhood. As I look back to those innocent days in the equally innocent early 60s, I realize that the red tricycle is a perfect metaphor for what childhood should be about. You get to move around, embarking on adventures while seemingly balancing  yourself precariously during your journey, hovering between safety and danger, ready to go out on your own but, yet, still needing that large front wheel.  On a temporal level, that big wheel represents your parents.  On an eternal plane, however, that wheel is God, Who will always be the Father to us, regardless of our earthly age.  There is an inherent respect and humility in admitting that you need a tricycle, that you need the security and presence of that big, third wheel guiding you, even as you foolishly start believing that you are actually balancing yourself.

On earth, the sight of an adult riding a tricycle would be cause for a good dose of mockery, and even a few psychiatric visits. In fact, increasingly, the sight of an adult praying with devotion to an unseen God seems to conjure mockery and psychiatric suggestions as well. That is why everyone sees the tricycle as the preparation, the precursor to the bicycle.  It is what you ride until you have progressed beyond the childish, the immature, the naive and innocent. In fact, doesn’t this world, and especially this society, look at Christianity, very much including Catholicism, in the same way as it sees that tricycle?  Isn’t Christianity viewed as some naive, foolish, superstitious mental ailment or insecurity that, thankfully, some enlightened and profound folks somehow escape and point back to on magazines and television with equal parts resentment, ridicule, embarrassment and, for that matter, even relief of having escaped?  Doesn’t this society look at its secular humanism as progressive thinking, evidence of the emancipation from the foolish recitation on beads and belief in rituals?

This society looks upon the tricycle with quaint patronization. It is the cute toy of naive infants who do not know any better, who go around  believing that they are balancing themselves oblivious to the reality that, if it were not for that big front wheel, they would go down like a ton of bricks or knock themselves senseless on a wall.  That is acceptable for children, but adults know enough to have either moved beyond the foolish tricycle or, if they have not, at least have the sense or decency to not ride around in one looking like idiots.  If you think about it, this society looks upon Christianity, very much including Catholicism, in much the same way.  It is the tricycle of the mind or, as Marx called all religion, the opiate of the people.  According to this society, Christianity, like the tricycle, encourages, even promotes, a naive belief that we are balancing ourselves when we are not. Given this view, it follows that, just as adults are supposed to move beyond tricycles and graduate to bicycles, so too Christians are supposed to, at some point in their expected mental development, move beyond their arrogant, condescending superstition and holier-than-thou grasp on beliefs which, despite their ancient and rich history, are now looked upon as something like a myth on steroids.

I am here to tell you that God likes tricycles.  He wants us to remember that, in fact, we cannot really do it alone, despite how often this society tells us that God is a third wheel, and that three’s a crowd. We are bombarded with the notion that independence, subjective morality, convenience, buffet ethics, and feelings are what matter in this selfie society.  We are equally told that we are all that we need, that there is no God, and that we can handle it on our own, even as we are immediately given the business cards of therapists, counselors, and lawyers.  The very same people who speak of choice, of privacy, and obsession with self, will be the first ones to suggest every foolish remedy or guru that slides down the ladder of popularity.  We are people frantically seeking bicycles which will not last, or which will only take us off the next cliff we see as a bridge, and the next mirage we will see as a paradise.

The tricycle is about humility; it is about admitting that you need that big wheel up front. At the end of the day, Christianity, with Catholicism very much included, is the tricycle of  the soul, with God as the big wheel up front. God likes tricycles, and I am glad that I have twenty photos on one.

Copyright, 2014,  Gabriel Garnica   All rights reserved.

The Myth of The Boat

We all know the story. After Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves to feed thousands, His disciples found themselves out at sea in a vicious storm and became terrified. That terror was multiplied when they saw what seemed to be ghost in the distance, but that figure turned out to be their Master ( Matthew 14:28).  Peter’s initial faith that his Lord could help him meet Him out at sea faltered and, becoming afraid, he began to sink until saved by Christ’s reach. I do not wish to focus here on Jesus the Savior reaching out to us beyond our own limitations, or Peter, displaying that annoying swing between great faith and great doubt. Rather, I propose that we look at what I will call The Myth of The Boat. What does that boat represent here?  Why is that boat a myth?

I suggest that the boat represents our comfort zone, that place where we feel in control of our world, of our present, and of our future. Common sense dictates that, when facing a decision between two places, most people will tend to choose the safer place. Thus, Peter’s initial belief was that Jesus was the safer Place in contrast to the boat he knew so well. However, very soon thereafter, Peter’s doubt and lack of faith in Christ caused him to hesitate, to, at least for a moment, believe that he was better off in the boat than out on a limb reaching for Christ.  That hesitation was enough to make Peter sink in the sea of his own humanity, his own doubts and insecurities and, I propose, in the ironic sea of his own arrogance.  I know it sounds strange to say that Peter was insecure yet arrogant at the same time. However, as many behavioral scholars will tell you, arrogance is often the attempt to cover up for insecurities.  How many times are we so arrogant that we believe we know better than Jesus, that we know what is better, or safer, for us than our own Savior does?

That boat, then, represents, our ego, so fixated on our perceived greatness that it ironically evokes our greatest weakness in the end. That boat is a myth, of course, because it is only when we realize that the boat is a pathetic substitute for Christ, that this boat will eventually sink, that it is a big lie on the sea, that we can then ditch that boat for Christ.  God controls the wind, and the wind pulls the sails which guide the boat, so how can we possibly believe that the boat is a safe, controlled, place to be?  That, in a nutshell, is the lie of the secularist, who believes that he or she is running the show, driving the bus, steering the wheel, on the boat.

Make it a habit to ditch the boat whenever your Jesus calls you, for those who think themselves the king of the world on that boat will only witness their sinking delusions, but those who gaze upon the King of The Universe will never sink.

Copyright, 2014,  Gabriel Garnica.    All rights reserved.