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Wheel of God
by Bill West

The church was filled with the sound of squeaking; as if fifty people were tying balloons into animal shapes.

The Right Reverend Poonbender ducked as he passed through the Sacristy door, pirouetted, then cycled to the pulpit, pogoed up its spiral staircase, and dismounted his unicycle with finesse.

He looked out across the sea of bobbing heads of his congregation. A proud smile creased his face. The air was filled with the aroma of rubber, deodorant and WD40. Men and women of sleek physique, taut bodies clad in lilac lycra, their leg muscles pumping, their heads crowned with cycle helmets bearing the sacred Wheel logo.

Poonbender held up clasped hands, as if in prayer. The congregation ceased their forward and backward motions and dismounted their unicycles. Silence descended.

“Brethren of the Latter Day Unicyclists,” Poonbender said in a strong, if high pitched voice. “I have wonderful news that will fill your hearts with gladness; - Blessed be the Wheel of God.”

“Amen.” The congregation boomed.

“There are those who would mock us, who deny the sacred Circle of Life, the Wheel of God!”

“Thy Wheel be done” they intoned.

“Some peddle the heresy that Jesus never rode a unicycle, that unicycles were invented in 1800. This is an evil falsehood. Was not Joseph a carpenter of skill and might? Did he not teach his God-given skills to young Jesus, to plane and saw, to steam and bend, to turn wood on a simple lathe, to make a spinning wheel for Blessed Mary the mother of our Saviour? I don’t doubt that the Shroud of Turin was woven from threads spun by Mary’s own fingers. The cloth that bound our Saviour when he was taken down from the cross came from that same spinning wheel.

And when Jesus was a boy playing in the road, seeing the prideful Romans ride past in their chariots wouldn’t his heart cry out, as ours do, at the affrontery to God his father? For we know that the Penny-farthing was a heresy, and the bicycle the creation of the Devil, as most assuredly is the four wheeled car, pumping out its noxious fumes, poisoning God’s air, truly a Weapon of Mass Destruction!

I accept there is an argument in favour of the tricycle as evidence of God’s compassion for the elderly. None of us will forget I am sure poor sister Margery who struggled so long and hard in her devotions until the Lord chose fit to take her to His bosom. She suffered so many falls, and few of us can expect to survive a broken pelvis at the age of eighty one.

And next time, when we are at our evening devotions; when we gather at Golgotha car park, behind the shopping Mall at sundown, and we stand in formation, stationary atop our unicycles, arms outstretched to remember the suffering of our Lord upon the Cross; look behind you! Don’t our shadows form the shape of that Cross?

I know we have all suffered the disdain of the sinful. There are those who would scoff at our creed, deny that Jesus was the first unicyclist. But we need fear no more. For I have had a vision and a revelation.

Not only Christ was a unicyclist, but so were his mother Mary, and his disciples. The evidence has been staring us in the eyes for centuries. Look at the picture behind the altar, painted by an Italian, Giotto by name, a painting called ‘The Mourning of Christ’. I have made an extensive study of the apparel worn in those far off days. Their clothes were loose, even in the cold snowfall of Christmas. Here I have a sheet of the size and shape they might have worn.

Mervin, will you switch off the lights while I put on my Biblical garb?”

The church went dark. The winter moon gleamed pale through the West Window. There was a shuffling and the odd bump from the darkened pulpit; then silence broken only by a faint ticking of a wheel, slowly spinning.


A spotlight came on – and in its beam, the Right Reverend Poonbender wrapped in a sheet, his upended unicycle strapped to his back, the wheel spinning, framing his head. The light glinted on spinning spokes, looking for all the world like the gleaming halos in Giotto’s painting.