Sunday, August 05, 2012

Transformations #43: The Bike Theft

On Aug 4, my wife and I attended Freedom To Love, a conference on the Theology of the Body as presented by Christopher West.  If you're not familiar with this topic, it's one of the key components of the Catholic Church's New Evangelization.  It's a deep, profound, and complicated study but is full of insights into our faith, our creation as sexual beings, and our creator.  It is jam packed full of jaw-dropping "I never knew that!" and "That makes such perfect sense now!" moments.

It was a pleasant & sunny day - perfect for a bike ride to get us to the Convention Centre downtown.  I've become a big fan of riding my bike into downtown Winnipeg, as it is much easier to navigate the traffic and free to park.  But I had never parked my bike for an extended period of time downtown, and this was a day long conference.  I have a good bike lock though (or I thought I did), and we found a bike rack near the front of the building that I considered to be within sufficient public scrutiny as to prevent a would-be thief from being able to spend too much time trying to cut my lock.  I was reasonably sure everything would be fine.

After our lunch break, my wife wanted to confirm our bikes were still there, and I took a look - they were.  "She's being too nervous," I told myself as I headed back to the conference room.

The bike locks you see here aren't ours.
But as the conference ended - it was amazing, by the way - and we headed out to go home, I was stunned to see an empty bike stand where we had had them locked up.

This is such a gut-wrenching feeling.  While not as serious a violation as a home robbery, it is still offensive to think that somebody took the time to cut my lock (which was securing both bikes to the rack).  In all likelihood, the bikes were taken to a pawn shop or broken up for parts to sell to fuel a drug habit.

We immediately went to the security desk and asked them if they had any footage of the theft.  The cameras recorded somebody bending over them at 2:54 PM, a different guy approaching them at 3:10, and the same guy riding one of them around the other side of the Convention Centre two minutes later.  Apparently bike theft is a team event.

My house insurance deductible is $500, and putting in a claim would have an impact on our monthly premiums too.  It's hardly worth putting in a claim for this.  Remind me why I'm paying $100/month for their services?  Perhaps if the thieves had done a more thorough job and broken into our home too... I guess I'd better be careful what I wish for though.

According to the City's website:

As many as 3,000 bicycles are reported stolen each year in the city of Winnipeg. 
The City of Winnipeg recovers up to 1,500 bicycles each year, with only 10 to 12% returned to their rightful owners. 
The City of Winnipeg sells over 1,000 bicycles a year at its annual bicycle auction because ownership cannot be traced.

Ironically, I had read this about a week prior, and had resolved to get our bikes registered.  The key to finding the rightful owners of bikes is to register the serial number with the police, which means that we'd stand a 50% chance of getting our bikes back.  You can't imagine how hard I'm kicking myself for all the decisions I made (or the ones I procrastinated on) that led up to this theft.

But that's not my transformation moment from this tale.

I was scheduled to play music at our Mass today, and the theft had been understandably troubling me.  My spirit was not in a place where I could rejoice at anything.  So as I walked to the church I prayed.  I prayed that the Lord would take all my worries and woes away.  I prayed that the Lord would restore my joy and would allow me to let go of the anger I was feeling.  I prayed for the thieves, that they would be converted and saved from their destructive cycles.

And I felt liberated.  A new & refreshing joy filled my spirit and I was able to focus on the beauty of Mass.

My wife had an insight that I'm clutching as my only grain of hope in this situation: perhaps those bike thieves had nobody else to pray for them.  Perhaps the Lord allowed this to happen so that they would be brought into the circle of our prayer life.  If so, I am doing him and them a great disservice by holding on to my bitterness over this.

That release from anger, that liberating love: that's the small change wrought in me this day.


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