My church makes time for our Joys and Concerns, one of my favorite portions of our worship each week where we speak aloud blessings and share our broken parts. I have taken full advantage of this community for years, my brokenness is well known. I am quick to share blessings as well, knowing they are plenty. Last week, I shared with the congregation that I was embarking on this new adventure, ready to become a Harley Mama. The response after the service was heartwarming, the support and encouragement overflowing. This group of people love to see joy with me, find excitement in other’s trips, promise to pray for safety and then do it. One friend stopped me as I was walking to the car, his smile just huge, he told me this was awesome. If there were any naysayers, any who judged that I had no business being on the back of of motorcycle at my age, they kindly chose to stay silent. This friend though told me that I need to be sure to master the wave. “The wave?” He went on to tell me there is a wave a that bikers give to each other, a sort of two-fingered wave that all give as they pass. “Make sure you do that.” We laughed and I assured him I would remember.
I left my home, my husband, my security. Everything I have to sustain me for two-weeks fits into the saddlebag. Certainly we stop for food, but souvenirs and shoes that are more comfortable are out of the question. Minimalist traveling, indeed. Impossible to mindlessly look at a cellphone, missing the wonders around, the road and wind require that my hands stay empty and just look. I found I have joined a new club, a new community. My friend was right. Bikers everywhere flash that wave. I’m not sure what it really means, I am not fully initiated, I only have one Harley shirt. But as I watch this wave, this consistent wave, over and over, I have taken comfort in those two fingers flashing. “I know you are there, I see you. I get your spirit. Be safe, traveler.” A prayer lifted up with each bike we pass.
We have yet to stop without folks around peppering us with questions: where are you heading, where are you from. Advice about weather we are facing, stories of their travels. My brother and our other traveling companion are big men, decked out in Harley leathers that cover the sweetest men I know. What we haven’t encountered is fear or judgement at our appearances, or rather theirs, I still haven’t fully embraced the biker look. The boots were too small, back to my Tom’s. No one asks who we are voting for, no one thinks we are looking for trouble. This is a new community, one I never noticed. I never talked to bikers at gas stations. I will now.
I wave now, two-fingers. At first it felt awkward, like trying to get the chaps on for the first time. Wearing a new persona, thinking everyone would know it doesn’t really fit. I get the merit of that wave as surely as my helmet, though. A quick flash to any we pass to let them know I see them. There is worth in the seeing. Certainly on a bike, you want to be seen. But what about off it? Don’t we all just want to be told we are visible, we count? Kids in cars wave to us, bikers riding in trucks flash the wave. “Be safe, friend” we tell each other. While I left my community of faith at home, I am secure in this biker gang on the road. We are covering each other in prayer with every pass.
May you all feel seen today, may your travels be safe. I see you. God speed,my friend. Wave to a biker, it might be me. I’m the one wearing Tom’s.