Friday, June 27, 2008

Riding

We bought an electric scooter today. It's called an eGo. I rode it from the seller's home across town to ours, trying to remember to stay to the side of the streets, my hand signals, and all the other rules of the road. This is our third, and by far our smallest, scooter, and I have to say, I LOVE IT! It's exactly what I've been dreaming of to run down the hill to the grocery store, the library, all the little errands I do during the week. And to think, I'll just have to plug it in to a regular outlet at the end of the ride.

I rode my first motorcoycle at Young Life's Woodleaf camp in northern California the summer after my sophomore year in high school. Little Hondo 80's, and I tore up the track, if I do say so myself. I loved them. In those days, my only goal was to keep up with whatever boys were around. Whether it was go-carts, those little scooters, or all-you-can-eat pizza nights down at Pizza Haven, I didn't hold back and let them win. I know, on this very blog I've indicated otherwise, but if you'll remember, I said my competitive juices flow when I think I can win...and in my youth there was nothing that told me a boy--by mere virtue of gender--could ride a go cart faster, or eat more, if I put my mind to it.

My college boyfriend's family was all about motorcycles. And though I'd ridden those little bikes a lap or two around a track, AC and his dad thought I needed a lesson or two to really get the hang of a real bike. So one hot, dry summer day down in Grangeville, Idaho when the air was barely moving and AC was off at his summer job, I climbed on the back of a big ol' bike (the kind now escapes me, but it was a giant sucker!) with his dad, who was a rather intimidating, rough-speaking, grease-under-his-finger-nails kind of man, and we rode far out on the gravel country roads (actually, there are nothing but gravel country roads near the tiny town of Grangeville, Idaho, but he told me that if I could ride on gravel, I could ride on anything), and then I got my motorcycle lesson. Ray (his actual name--and doesn't if fit?) showed me where everything was, how to shift gears with my foot, to accelerate, brake, and then we got on the bike. I got on first, and he got on behind me. He'd taught all his kids to ride just this way, but I don't think a 'girlfriend' had ever come out to stay before, ever been his student. And poor Ray wasn't about to touch me, in any way, shape or form. Certainly not to put his hands on my waist--not when I was driving straight down the country road, not when he was trying to tell me I needed to lean with the bike, rather than against it, even if it felt counter-intuitive, not when I practically turned it over, and my face was blushing in shame! I wanted to tell him it was ok to hold on--and even HELP! But I was also kind of thankful that he didn't, if you can understand that. How embarrassing would that have been? Really? Ah, poor Ray. He just held on to the back of his seat and prayed (though he wasn't much of a praying man) that I wouldn't harm that mighty beast. Fortunately, we both survived--both the ride and the embarrassment--and I learned to be a pretty good rider. We spent a couple of afternoons at it, and by the end, though he couldn't give me a legal endorsement, he felt comfortable enough with me that he let me take one of their bikes off by myself for the first of many long rides. Riding fast into the wind...

Years later, the Beve and I bought a little Honda Elite to run back and forth out on the flats between our house and Grampie's when we lived in Sequim--a mile apart. It was great fun. The Beve would take the children for quick spins on it on those quiet (paved!) roads, and they loved that. When E was ten, he decided she was old enough to try riding it herself for the first time. Unfortunately, she didn't have Ray as a teacher. She got on it, Beve helped her start it up, and she drove full speed ahead. plowing it straight through our neighbor's fence. I was in the house, heard this giant crash and when I got outside there was a perfect cutout of scooter and head in the fence. E was apologizing (such a oldest child!) but I was TICKED at the Beve for not teaching her better than that.

The reality is, we need teachers. I think of Ray teaching me versus little E plowing through that fence, and I know that. We need to trust that those who have been doing a thing have something to teach us. We need to listen to those who are ahead of us in the faith, those who know how to ride better than us. Not standing on the side telling us, egging us on, but actually getting on the bike with us, and guiding us as we learn. Are there people in your life like this? People who are willing to get on the back of your life and lean with you as you corner? Listen to the Holy Spirit wind with you as you are riding along? Hopefully they're even willing to put their hands on your waist to pull you up short when you need them to, or even simply to hang on for the ride. If not, there's One for sure. Will you invite Him along?
Hmm. Maybe He should steer.

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