Side by side


The 1st day of my journey was a day of intentional contrasts.  Starting at Griffith Park Observatory I made my way down the mountain and rode though LA and Hollywood.  In spit of the glamor associated with Hollywood it is filled with poor neghborhoods and ramshackle apartment buildings literally next door or across the street from multi-million dollar mansions.  

From there I headed past the Hollywood Bowl, up the Cahenga pass and onto Mulholland Drive where the rich and famous live.  Skirting this winding road along the crest of the mountains I could see both the expansive urban sprawl of the San Fernando Valley to the north and the city of the Angles stretching out to Santa Monica Bay to the south.

As beautiful as all this was, the real contrast came shortly after crossing the 405 Freeway.  Here is where the pavement ends and Mulholland Drive turns into a stretch of road called “Dirt Mulholland”.


As this road – really a glorified mountain bike trail – wound its way through the Santa Monica mountains state park civilization disappeared.  No sounds of traffic, no other people, no man made structures of note.  It was like riding mountain trails back in Virginia.  Utter peace and calm prevailed.

Yet, at several points along the trail I could look out and see the vast expanse of civilization below me.  I could even look down on jetliners coming I’m for a landing at Burbank airport.  Below lay a world of hustle and bussle, traffic jams and work schedules.  Here I was in a sea of tranquility just a few miles away aND a 1000 feet or so above.

How could two such different worlds coexist side by side? I realized that this is the way the world exists. Not neatly separated, but mashed up – rural and urban, rich and poor, young and old, black and white, Republican and Democrat.   Perhaps we’d like to see that which is not like us eliminated.  We think it would be earier to get along with everyone if everyone thought like us. But that’s not the way the world is.

Rather than fear that the evil influences of whatever part of “them is not like “us”, perhaps we would do better to take a lesson from how contrasts exist side by side.

After all,  as Jesus said, “G-d makes the rain to fall on the good and evil alike.”

Stats: 8 hours in the saddle, 75 miles ridden, 4237 calories burned.


Author: pastortoddhammond

I have been a parish minister nearly 30 years and have had the privilege of pastoring from Maine to California. I began serving the Agape Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the end of 2014.

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