On the second day of our retirement ride, Rich and I had a very unique experience. We were some where in Tennessee having left Marietta, GA on the Tuesday morning and we were headed toward Paducah, KY. Our norm each day was to ride for about one hundred and twenty miles, then take a rest stop and gas up if necessary. On that Tuesday morning we had taken a break at a rest stop somewhere in Tennessee. I had headed into the building to use the facilities while Rich took a stretch.
I was inside for a while because a bus had made a pit stop just minutes before we had arrived and there was quite a line for the ladies room. When I came out Rich was standing beside the bike deep in conversation with an older gentleman. I hung back a little giving them room for their discussion. Then Rich looked around and saw me there, motioned me forward and introduced me. I very much regret that I do not remember the gentleman’s name, but I can tell you some things about him.
I learned he was a retired Navy man, a Veteran from World War II. He, too, had owned a bike back in the day and had met and married his wife shortly after joining the service. He said that they really enjoyed riding together back then. His wife came out of the building at this point and joined us and we learned that they were from Knoxville, TN. They were very committed to their church back in Knoxville and they told us they were in fact on a day trip with fellow church-goers. We asked where they were going and the gentleman, with a chuckle, said that they didn’t know. They were on a “mystery trip” and had no idea what their destination was!
At this point, reaching out his hand, Rich thanked him for his service to country and said we needed to get going as we had quite a few miles to cover that day. The gentleman grasped Rich’s hand and thanked him in return for his service to country too. Then, to our great surprise, he extended his left hand toward my right hand and asked permission to pray over us. With joy in my heart I reached out to take his hand and he connected with his wife on his other side, and she in turn clasped hands with Rich.
And right there, the middle of a rest stop parking lot somewhere in Tennessee we were blessed to receive prayers of gratitude and prayers for protection from two strangers. He asked the good Lord, our Father, to watch over us, to keep us safe from all harm. He asked for blessings upon us as we continued our trip and prayed that we would have a wonderful and enjoyable ride. With full hearts we said our goodbyes, mounted the bike, and rode off leaving our parking lot friends to enjoy their mystery tour.
Although I do not remember their names, I can picture them in my minds eye. I can see the four of us standing beside the bike, the big tour bus in the background, holding hands and praying together. It was beautiful and was most definitely a highlight of the ride for me. That memory will be with me in years to come, and I hope that Rich and I will be able to do the same for someone else one day as we ride our Harley around God’s creation.
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!!
My husband and I own a Harley. We love our Harley. It’s a rich deep blue Ultra Classic that we bought almost two years ago. Prior to that we had a Sportster for ten years. I guess it would be more honest to say that Rich had a Sportster and I would ride it occasionally. But in late 2006, as he approached a major deployment starting in 2007, Rich decided to sell his beloved Sportster and order the Ultra Classic for when he returned.
We came to live in the States after being overseas for eighteen years and within eighteen months, we had become empty nesters. This gave us the opportunity to get out more on the bike. We began to explore Florida and it became obvious fairly soon to the both of us that our “sits bones” did not tolerate long rides. So we discussed the possibility of upgrading to a touring bike.
The deployment was the perfect opportunity for doing this. So Rich put the Sportster up for sale and banked the proceeds. He then saved all his sea pay for the seven and half months he was away and, within a few days of returning home at the end of August 2007, we rode to Gainesville to take possession of our new “toy”. Since then we have put just over 14,000 miles on it, and that’s in spite of Florida’s rainy summers!!
Today we took a wonderful ride. The weather was great: sunny, but not too much, and just a very short shower. Our original plan had been to ride down to St. Augustine, but things changed and we ended up riding to a new Harley dealer. We were on a “mission” to find me a new helmet!
Even though we have an intercom speaker system set up so that we can communicate as we ride, sitting on the back of the Harley has become another time that I find myself saying a lot of prayers. We start every ride with a prayer of gratitude for the blessings of the bike and they joy that we get from riding it and also asking for protection and safe riding. For me this just helps to set the tone, and before long I’m praising and thanking God for the wonders of this world.
There’s nothing like riding the back of a Harley to become fully appreciative of the beauty of nature. Feeling the wind in my face and the sun on my back makes me aware of how much I love being outside. The scenery that we pass always brings me such a sense of gratitude for this amazing earth that God created. And pretty soon I’m in such a state of gratitude that my soul is singing.
As the miles go by friends and family come to mind and it’s just a natural progression for me to start asking God to bless and protect them. Sometimes there are specific requests that need to be made for people who I know are going through tough times. My children always get special mention, especially my daughter. And from there I go to world needs, and so prayers for peace and environmental respect get added to the list.
The ride today was a great success. We found a great helmet; black with a slight underlying sparkle and an outrageously gorgeous deep purple flame pattern all over!! (I’m happy!) We had a very interesting Indian lunch (I LOVE Indian food!) over in the Baymeadows area. On the way home we encountered just a short shower which was really quite refreshing. Most importantly we arrived home safely, which is always blessing in and of itself. And once again I had the opportunity to have some Harley prayer time.