I know I’ve said this before, but the things that authors do to inspire themselves are amazing. Karla rides a motorcycle! Even across the Mackinaw Bridge. (I’ve traversed the bridge several times in a vehicle and even done the bridge walk on Labor Day once, but the thought of crossing the expanse on two wheels sounds terrifying. Karla is an adventurous woman.)
As a pastor’s wife, mom to kids with autism, caregiver to my mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s, my creative flow can be stifled. Even though I love to write more than anything else in this world, sometimes I feel completely empty of words. When that happens, I know it’s time to pump up some adrenaline.
And nothing gets my adrenaline pumping quite as fast as a ride on my motorcycle. Yes, I really am a pastor’s wife who wears biker boots, just like the title of my book.
I didn’t start to ride a motorcycle until the ripe old age of 47. I’m 52 now, and I’m still riding strong. There’s nothing like the ride on an iron horse to clear the cobwebs of your mind. When you ride, you have a heightened awareness of everything around you. In my book, I named the motorcycle “Heaven.” It really is an other-worldly feeling when you ride. Here’s how I write about it in The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots:
I was glad to ride. To let my bike take me far, far away from the issues at home, at church, and in my head and heart. I felt as if my cares sat in prickly baskets on my shoulders. Breathing took effort, and not because the humid August air was stifling. Stress sat on my chest like a weighty chartreuse elephant. I needed the wind and miles to blow the burdens away and transport me to a place of tranquil, crystal-clear thinking.
I rolled Heaven’s throttle for a while before I took off out of the driveway. “Rock and roll, girl. We’re going for a long, ride, just you and me. I hope you’re up for it.”
I didn’t know where I was headed. It didn’t matter. I needed to go away, leave Eel Falls and see something new. It could be anywhere as long as it wasn’t here.
Before long, I was completely immersed in the sheer joy of my bike feasting on mile after glorious mile of wide open road. The deep, guttural roar of the engine and assault of wind on my face gradually wore away the issues weighing me down. I relaxed under the soothing force of the bike’s speed and its thick, throaty song. It calmed me to hear the syncopated pops, and rest in its bold, rich song. It was the ultimate escape. Like climbing into an overstuffed, comfortable chair. I allowed the organic sensation of the motor’s revelry to lull me into whole-hog heavenly rest. It was an ironic peace—a cacophony of machine, road, and human spirit—harmonious and suspended in time. It shouldn’t have felt peaceful with all the noise, but it was utterly tranquil.
The day cooled off, and I enjoyed the wind on my skin. My eyes watered a little, but I wasn’t sure if it was from tears or wisps of air slipping underneath my sunglasses. I could feel a small unintended smile on my face. If only I could always feel this serene. If only people could know how really good this felt. They’d want to ride, too, and never stop. No wonder Goliath liked sticking his head out the window when he rode in the van.
My motorcycle has taken me to many wonderful places. My husband and I have traveled hundreds of miles together. Here is a pic of our motorcycles parked in front of Gene Stratton Porter’s first house. This is where she wrote A Girl of the Limberlost, one of my childhood favorites.
With my motorcycle I also tamed the dragon at Deal’s Gap. People from all over the world converge on this curvy road that stretches across Tennessee and North Carolina to test their mettle. Some drive too fast and die there. Many crash and hang their mangled bikes on the “tree of shame.” I’m happy to say I rode it twice and lived to tell the tale. If I told you I wasn’t a wee bit nervous, that would be a lie. But the older I get the more I realize we must get out of our comfort zones if we want to grow! And growth means more creativity, right?
I think my favorite road trip was when my Mr. Himself and I rode from Indiana all the way up to Mackinac Island (well, as far as the ferry that took us across to it). Riding over the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge on her 50th birthday was a thrill.
Still, there’s nothing like hopping on my bike and riding around rural Indiana and taking pictures and enjoying God’s creation. We have a lot of long talks on those rides, God and I. These little excursions refuel me and help me get my life in perspective. I’m grateful for the opportunity to ride, write, and worship Him.
Psalm 23:2,3a He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.