Last weekend Richard and I travelled south to Melbourne, Florida. We had been invited to help celebrate the wedding of an old friend and colleague who we got to know during our time in Naples, Italy. Bob is also a Harley guy. In fact he infused Richard with the desire to get his first Harley, and he also made a three day motorcycle trip with Richard from Naples, across Italy to Bari, then on down to the “boot” of Italy and back up to Naples.
Since we have been here in Jacksonville, we have hooked up with Bob to go watch a shuttle launch from Space View Park in Titusville a couple of years ago. Rich also hooked up with him back in February of this year and they braved the bitter cold of an un-Florida like night to see a night launch actually on the NASA site down at Cape Canaveral. Unfortunately that launch was postponed and neither of them could make it back for the following night when the launch finally took place.
So it was with great pleasure that we accepted the invitation, along with about forty other people, to join Bob and Angelica in the celebration of their union. We drove down from Jacksonville on the Friday afternoon. It was a gorgeous day and I think we said “it would have been a perfect day for a ride on Harley” only about a dozen times! When we got there we quickly discovered that many of the guests were retired navy and/or Harley folks!
The wedding ceremony, which was held at 6.30pm in the lovely open courtyard of the wedding venue, was short and sweet. Angelica looked as beautiful as any bride should and our dear friend Bob was obviously very happy and, even though he said he wasn’t, he seemed quite nervous. Friends were asked to give them advice or share special thoughts with them before the minister, another friend, declared them man and wife. I told them, “don’t stop dating”.
The rest of the evening was spent socializing and enjoying a lovely dinner. The DJ was great and spun some good “old music” as well as playing guitar and singing himself. Some of us even managed to get up and boogie a little. The cake was duly cut and eaten and,shortly afterwards, we headed back to our hotel for the night.
On Saturday morning we got up slow and easy. After breakfast we packed our bags and headed out to go visit Bob and Angelica in their home. As we turned onto A1A heading south to Grant, we noticed a Bonsai nursery to one side of the road and made a decision to stop there on the way back. And so, a couple of hours later we found ourselves in the company of Mr. Feng Gu who proudly showed us his trees and explained the art of Bonsai. It was absolutely fascinating.
Well after looking at all the different types of trees, Richard said, “so pick one Babe”. Oh sweet music to my ears. I have so wanted a Bonsai tree for many years. But it wasn’t one of those desires that I had ever spoken out loud. In the bigger scheme of things owning a Bonsai was not a pressing need. It was simply a secret desire. Yet here I was, just a choice away.
Some of the trees were quite expensive but Mr. Gu was very patient and kind and showed me a small tree in a beautiful cobalt blue dish. My soul leapt but I was a little hesitant because it was bare; exquisite trunk, branch, and root growth but no leaves. Mr. Gu explained that he had just recently pinched all the leaves off, which needed to be done twice a year to encourage the tree to produce smaller leaves than normal but in proportion to the size of the tree itself.
My heart was captured and the deal was done. I had my tree, and while I was waiting for Mr. Gu to run my credit card, I noticed he had two baskets on his desk with miniature clay Japanese figurines. So I picked out a little wise man reading from an ancient scroll. He had a long blue robe of cobalt blue which perfectly matched the dish of my newly acquired Bonsai. So there he stands, among the roots of my tree which, by the way, is already full of minute new green shoots .
Wow! I am still overwhelmed. Two thousand two hundred and fifty three miles completed on the back of the Harley. That was the sum total of the mileage of our trip to and from San Antonio, Texas. And Rich added another five hundred and seventy five miles to that as he travelled from San Antonio to Arlington, Texas and back. He just had to smell the sweat in the new Cowboys stadium:-).
We spent three days on the road to get to San Antonio, and three days to get back to Jacksonville, Florida. That’s a lot of God’s creation visited and appreciated and a lot of private God-time as we rode.
I am not completely isolated when I ride passenger on the Harley. Rich and I have interconnecting speakers and mikes so that we can communicate as we travel. If either of us sees something interesting we are quick to point it out to the other. And it’s always good to say “I love you” as we ride.
But most of the time is spent individually. Rich obviously has to focus on the driving part of the experience, which leaves me with a lot of time to communicate with God. I get to pray for our safety and protection as well as our enjoyment as we travel the highways and byways. This is always primary before and during any trip that we take whether it be on Harley or in the car.
Next on the list to God are all the people that are under my “prayer candle” at home. This is a candle that I keep on the Italian granite island in my kitchen. The candle rests inside a candle jar, and the jar sits inside a metal holder. When people put out requests for prayers for either mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical healing, I put their names on a piece of paper which goes inside the metal container under the candle.
When there are too many names on any one piece of paper, I start a new one on which I always write, “for all those who have gone before and…” Under this I add the new names. So once you make it under my prayer candle you’re there to stay! When I light the candle I do so “with intention” that all those named be lifted up to the Lord while the candle is burning. And as I go about my day and I see the candle I offer more prayers for everyone.
Once this is done I then turn over my sorrows and heartaches to God and ask that He relieve me of them, that He resolve them for me, if it be His will. That last phrase is always the hard part of praying to God. But if I am to practice total trust in the God of my understanding and His plans for me and others, then I must add that phrase, otherwise I am dictating to God what I think He should do!
And then it’s on to world intentions. Now that could take up a trip to the moon and back! We, mankind, have made such a mess of this world and continue to do so today. Sometimes I get a little despairing when I realize we are still making the same mistakes, doing the same things as we did thousands of years ago, and expecting different results. I read somewhere that’s a true definition of insanity!!
I spend a lot of time asking God to please change peoples’ hearts, to lead them on the path of love and compassion. I ask him to remove hatred and greed and the quest for power. I ask Him to take care of the defenseless ones and to bring food to the hungry. I ask Him to shower humankind with His love, His grace, His light, and His energy.
So as you can see, my Harley time is put to great use. It’s usually a very intense and focused time for me and the tears flow frequently. I have accepted this as part of my mission in life and I am very willing to do it. As I pray for others and their needs, I also benefit because I am deepening my own spiritual life and my relationship with God. So it’s a real win-win situation for me and the tears are a small price to pay.
I almost forgot. Some of my Harley prayers are simply words of worship and praise. I forget who the singer is but the song says something like, “Our God is an awesome God”. I like to let Him know that I see that and appreciate it. And let me not forget the gratitude. My soul is full of gratitude for the many blessings in my life, and so I thank God for all He has done and is about to do. Amen!!
The butterflies are dancing all over my stomach. We are about to embark on the most adventurous Harley ride ever. Today we leave Jacksonville , Florida and head to San Antonio, Texas. That’s almost eleven hundred miles one way!!. My biggest wish: that God protect us and give us safe and joyous riding.
Harley is packed and waiting patiently to rumble out of the garage. Rich has cleaned her beautiful blue chassis to a sparkling shine. The side saddles have been packed since yesterday, and once the king-pack is packed with “last bits”, the remaining two bags will be strapped on top and we will be ready to roll.
It’s amazing how much stuff you can get on a motorcycle if you plan carefully. I cannot believe that we will be gone for ten days and I have packed so little! The only real “rule” I created for myself was, only one pair of jeans for the three-day ride: they can be washed and readied for the return ride home too. Oh, and I also made myself not pack deodorant. We can share for this trip:-).
We are keeping a careful watch on Alex as he blows across the Gulf towards Mexico. Rich has been calculating times and distances and although we may run into some outer band rain showers, we should be arrived at destination before anything too strong might hit. We have good rain gear and so are well prepared for riding in the wet. If things should change drastically then I guess we will have to “hole up and hunker down” while we evaluate and readjust.
I am looking forward to seeing some new country and more of God’s great creation along the way. We have been as far as New Orleans going west from here but this is much further west. Our first stop is projected to be Pensacola by this evening. Tuesday we plan on heading for Lake Charles in Louisiana and then Wednesday will see us arriving in San Antonio.
I also need some personal down time, and there’s nothing like riding the back of the Harley for that. I know I will be spending much time in prayer and there will probably be tears too. But that’s OK because my “Buddy” will be with me upholding me and getting me through. Harley time is great for some private personal self nurturing.
Why the tears, you ask? Because of sadness surrounding my daughter, and more sadness surrounding my eldest son. Then throw a deep sadness in there for the shaken relationship with my sister and voila, the makings of a good country and western song!! Hopefully there will be much joy along the ride and even greater joy at our destination to balance out any sadness I may be carrying in the depths of my heart.
So I may be “off the grid” again for a few days. Richard will be taking his trusty Netbook with him so I will have ability to write if the urge comes. I will just have to see how my availability happens around the events that are planned for San Antonio. Safe travels to one and all and have a wonderful Fourth of July!