From anywhere but on it, a bicycle seems a near silent mode of transportation, exercise, and amusement. But anyone with a bike is familiar either with the largely metallic cacophony of scrapes, grinds, creaks, whines, and groans which accompany a ride, or the grease, patience, muscle, and YouTubes which prevent it. I prefer the latter. But on occasion, for example, a tick finds its way into the joint between my seat-post and the bike’s frame. With the first disruptive ping from that joint, my ride goes from gliding in Elysian fields to impalement in part one of Dante’s famed trilogy.

The odd thing is that while I’m riding, my physical person (as it were, sans bike) undoubtedly makes more noise than anything emerging from the bike itself. My knee’s ratcheting is 5×5. My heaving, 59-year-old breath is heavy enough to power the non-existent sail I wish were propelling me forward. And the wind in my ears blankets everything else in a constant white noise I actually find pleasant.

Jesus sees in the Pharisees what he knows is the tendency in all of us: to strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24).

I ride my cooperative, silent bike. Then, plink. Argh. The seat-post is creaking again. I will obsess about the tiny sound until I fix it. That sonic gnat gone, I can get back to ignoring the discordant camel of my own sounds.

Others may seem the greater distraction: their discourtesies and sins, inconveniences and needs. But an attentive and honest rider knows that our noises need as much work as theirs, or more.

This week, may we first address the problems in ourselves, then listen more carefully to clear the speck of dust in our gears, or our brother’s eye.