By Sal Ruibal
I've always had a difficult time dealing with Christmas. Some of that comes from having a birthday 10 days before Christmas. I don't like sharing the stage with the Son of God. Jesus never heard anyone say, "This is your Christmas and birthday present combined."
But that's just ego talking. I seriously doubt that some archaeologist in 4024 is going to discover some ancient blogs written by a guy in the long-lost kingdom of Virginia and create a religion around them. And I really hope that preaching about the heavenly kingdom of riding my bike on sacred ground in my local woods doesn't lead to my asphalt crucifixion by a distracted high school kid reading a text message while driving to West Springfield High School.
I think Jesus was a pretty cool guy who probably would have preferred to ride a mountain bike than riding an ass from town to town. Maybe he anticipated the anger that has been created over the question of who really invented the mountain bike and decided he just wanted to ride an ass more than deal with a bunch of asses.
I like that he drove the corrupt moneychangers from the temple with a whip. President Obama hasn't got around to that but he's got four more years to do the right thing.
I try to go to church every day. My church is a lot like the places Jesus chose for his worship: it's near water, you can fish there, there's shade in the summer and beautiful leaves in the fall. Even the snow is pretty.
When I ride my bike there, I believe there is a heaven, a heaven that's made new with every sunrise and is remade in the still darkness.
Riding a bike in the dark is a wonderful gift. In the dark, you can't see all the little obstacles in your path, you just keep the pedals turning and your eyes wide open. And the amazing thing is, your eyes adjust and you start seeing new things: stars that are really just fires that burned out billions of years ago, but are now shining down on the trail for your illumination. The Moon looks so big it might just be in your neighborhood, a big fat mirror bouncing light from our Sun to give us a different perspective on our own lives away from the vast man-made machinery that seeks to illuminate our every minute, but only creates mirages.
Perhaps that's why I love photography so much. You can capture a tiny bit of light and, as Einstein showed us, light is time. In that little closed box with one big eye, we can hold a moment in our hands. We now have the ability to throw those moments around the world in the bat of an eye.
I'm not Jesus and I'm not Elvis, I'm just a storyteller in a little place that destiny has sent me. And now you and I are meeting in a place that couldn't have been imagined even 50 years ago. You don't have to believe that Jesus was God or even existed at all to appreciate the connection we have at this very moment. We have everything, we just have to look around and see it, even in the darkest moments and especially on a bike.