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Outdoor bike rack:Bike locks and binkies make us feel safe

If you park in the northeasterly parking lot at Sacred Heart Hospital, you might notice the steel tubed bicycle rack near the walkway. I’ve passed it hundreds of times but never took time to really look at it. This past week as I made a hurried trip to visit friend with cancer, I happened to see something I never had noticed on that old bike rack. While it was only holding one 18 speed touring bike, it held a dozen different bicycle locks.

Most of those locks looked like they had been there for a long time. There were those big U-style locks that were so popular when I was in college. Others had chains were rusted and the tumblers were probably frozen from years of neglect. These were forgotten locks that were once used by faithful cyclists. There was a time when each was purchased and unpackaged. Some were expensive and were probably brought to protect an expensive road or mountain bike. In each case, these locks were once actively protecting bicycles, but now they passively await a set of bolt cutters from the maintenance department.

As I hurried through the maze of halls and elevators to see my friends, I began to consider those locks. They are models of security. They represent safety and protection. The lock is a guardian that watches over its property with strength and diligence. It only needs a key or code to yield its hold and release its treasure back into the world. Yet, over time each of these guardians was abandoned. Now they stand guard over nothing; their purpose no longer realized. Their owners have moved on.

Most of us have some proverbial bike locks in our lives. There are answers that used to satisfy my curiosity. Now those same answers just raise more questions. I’ve watched as my children grow up and abandon their pacifiers and stuffed animals. Favorite woodlots in my old neighborhood have become shopping malls. Some promises that I once held dear have proven weak. Relationships that were as strong as steel have rusted through salty tears of change. Time has marched on and left life’s old locks as relics of antiquity.

We all want to feel safe and protected. We want to know that our families will last and our relationships are secure. We want to trust that our finances are stable and that our health is good. We want to trust our laws and those who enforce them are doing so for the best interest of the common good. We trust our schools with our children. We lean into our neighbors and co-workers as we engage into lives that enable and depend on trust in each other. From where does your sense of security come? What locks have you left in your life?

As I headed back to my Jeep, after a good cry and prayer, I made my way across the street back to the parking deck. As I stepped over the curb, I saw something else. There was a lone blue silicone baby pacifier that lying at the base of the curb. My guess is that it was dropped by some child as she held on to her Daddy or Mama. They, too, were leaving the hospital and moving on with their lives.

That binky got left in a flash to join the old bike locks that resided just a few feet away. I’m sure that within a few miles, that baby let Mama know that she needed a new binky! Even so, that child will eventually leave the days of pacifiers in the wake of time and move on to buying bike locks. The cycle will keep going as we learn to trust and hope.

We live in a world where we relocate our sense of security from pacifiers to bike locks, from childhood friends to spouses, and from our pay stubs to our investments. We mature in faith and wisdom. We keep growing and we keep on trusting something. It’s part of living and I for one, don’t ever want to go back.