Monday, November 12, 2007

Flight of the Vespas

I’m spending some time at one of my favorite coffee places this weekend. No, it’s not a Starbucks. I’m not a coffee snob and I really like Starbucks but I have friends that are seriously “anti” (One of the anti Starbucks crowd refers to them as “four bucks”). Honestly, if they ever get to “fourbucks” for a simple cup of black, I might have to re-evaluate my java preferences.

Where was I?

Oh, yea. So I’m looking forward to just leaning back in the crisp morning air with a hot cup to read the paper and do a little people watching when it became clear that I was walking smack dab into some kind of club gathering. As I looked around, the parking lot and all the spaces in front of the shop were filled with bikes - and not the kind you peddle.

I’ve enjoyed riding the powered two-wheel machine since the early 80s. My parents were wary of motorcycles as most parents are and probably should be. Growing up, I was barely allowed to look at them, much less touch or ride one. My cousin, Eric, from Florida had a big black Honda. When we would visit, I would circle the mysterious machine parked in the garage but, as far as I remember, never sat on it and certainly never went for a ride.

I bought my first motorcycle in the early 80s. It was a Yamaha Virago. I don’t know exactly what a “Virago” is but if you jumble the letters around, you can come up with some pretty funny combinations. (I’ll confess that I don’t know what an “Impreza” or “Elantra” is either) I later moved on to the American made Harley and have never looked back.

I remember riding my first bike to Louisiana from Houston. My Mom and Dad had no warning that I’d made this purchase. They didn’t know who was riding in circles around their house in a leather jacket and full-face helmet with the dark shield. When I stopped on the driveway in front, my folks came out with arms folded and smiles on their faces.


I took my coffee and found a seat in the middle of the action. After a few minutes, a young man stood up and announced that the ride would begin soon. He gave a few instructions and people began to suit up with jackets and helmets as they made their way to their rides.

If you’re imagining roaring, made in the USA V-Twins coming to life under the rough hands of intimidating bikers, you’re a little off.

This was the flight of the Vespas. I smiled.

What amused me about this whole scene was that the atmosphere was pretty much exactly like a big motorcycle rally. Only the rides were different. The riders wore leather jackets and helmets with patches and decals expressing their personal political, social and moral leanings. There were custom paint jobs and personal touches that made each scooter unique. These riders had found camaraderie.

As the time came for them to leave, I wondered how they would all get on the street at the same time and how they could possibly merge into traffic moving at speeds that would probably demand full throttle from the scooters. While groups of 5 or 6 waited their turn they goosed their little engines leaving those of us watching bathed in Vespa exhaust fumes. Another smile. The noise was kinda cute.

People long for community and we all desire fellowship with people on common ground. The common ground might be need for expression. The common ground might be simply “need”. Growing up in church, my heart always leaned toward fellowship with other believers. But outside the fellowship of the church, there is still a hunger for togetherness. Of course, those of us inside would prefer that those outside simply come in. It’s much easier that way. That way we don’t have to go outside into the world filled with Vespas and Harleys or whatever else might make you cringe.

But to love God is to love people – people made in His image. To love God is to set aside our preconceived notions about what a certain group might be into or how they might feel about “Us” or how they might feel about “Him”.

Richard Foster wrote…
Those on the outside see only loss in following Christ. They miss entirely the great freedoms: the freedom from a stifling self-absorption; the freedom from a plotting and scheming one-upmanship; the freedom from the insecure systems of this world. And so much more.

Get outside your comfort zone this week. Do something or go somewhere (Let Him lead you…don’t just go!) this week that might make you a little uncomfortable. Read something that you don’t agree with – something that might make you ask some questions of how you live and what you believe (At the very worst, it might give you some insight to the lost world around you). Knowing all the time that our God is Steady, Immovable, All-Knowing, full of grace and mercy and able to keep us wherever we go. This is a great world, a fallen one of course, but what a tremendous place our Lord has given us to live, to see Him and to love those around us.

Pray – Love - Smile


1 comment:

Chuck Pryor said...

Great stuff Wayne... Maybe I should get a Vespa :)