Sanctifying spokes and spirits in Salisbury

Bikers gather at All Saints of America Orthodox Church in Salisbury for the Blessing of the Bikes, led by Father John Kreta.

Sava Marinkovic

Sanctifying spokes and spirits in Salisbury

SALISBURY — In early afternoon on Sunday, June 16, the quiet rustling of leaves gave way to the roar of engines as a curving column of motorcyclists arrived at All Saints of America Orthodox Church in Salisbury.

The bikers — nearly 60 riders between 44 bikes and trikes — journeyed from throughout Connecticut and neighboring New York to receive the church’s seventh annual Blessing of the Bikes.

A prayer opened the event, with bikers and regular parishioners assembled in the road alongside the stretch of wax-shined bikes. Father John Kreta, the parish’s priest-in-charge, intoned an invitation to prayer in the traditional Orthodox manner before all the gathered joined in a spoken recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

“It’s a joy to be with everyone and to share a meal,” said Fr. John, “but we worry about everyone on the roads, too.” To that end, blessings serve riders and their passengers as both offers of protection and calls to mindfulness of biking’s perils.

Over each vehicle, Fr. John signed the cross with a water-saturated brush, saying: “This motorcycle is blessed with the sprinkling of this holy water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.”

After every bike was visited and blessed, ample food and refreshments were offered — distributed to attendees alternately sitting, standing, or lying in the grass to bask untroubled in the sun of an early-summer’s day.

The groups of bikers and congregation members gather for a group photo.Sava Marinkovic

The turnout, although nominally somewhat less than that of the previous installment, comprised a great deal of newcomers alongside long-time supporters of the yearly tradition. “Almost half of the bikers were visiting for the first time,” noted Fr. John, optimistic about the prospect of the event’s growth in coming years.

On behalf of those the blessing has already served in years past, organizer Jimmy Dunn spoke of the event’s significance. “It has helped so many of us,” said Dunn, “and even comforted those who have lost loved ones.”

“We’re all trying to help each other live more spiritually,” continued attendee Mike, noting that bringing everyone together annually for the blessing has strengthened their collective resolve to do so. Around him, those seated signaled their affirmation, testifying how both motorcycling and adherence to a shared faith have helped the bikers to overcome life’s hardships and preserve bonds with friends and family — those both near and distant.

The warm and convivial mood that seemed to pour out from the group made the fact of this apparent, with the comfort of lifelong friendships obvious in the easy conversation that abounded.

Toward the close of the picnic, a call was made to organize the various subgroups that would accompany each other home or to further activities. Photographs snapped and hands shaken, some ambled into the church to reflect or pay their respects. The rest mounted their motorcycles to begin their winds away, the sound of engines once again overtaking all else.

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