Life from the rear-view mirror

Are you Stuck? Vol 53

July 26, 2013 | Comment

BenelliI started riding a motorcycle for real when I was 15. It all began when my dad let my brother and I ride these little 150cc Honda mini-bikes on the beach in Daytona FL back in 1970. The bug bit me hard. And I began to dream of having my own motorcycle one day….soon I hoped. Turns out that Dad had a hankering to do the same and we began talking about, and looking at motorcycles in earnest! Our search was most centered in the papers and swap sheets but sometimes we found some great bikes in someone’s front yard. We didn’t have much money then and most of the bikes we looked at were out of our reach. But one day dad found a non-running Benelli single-cylinder 250cc in pieces for sale (see picture) on the side of the road in Munnsville, NY. I don’t remember how he heard about it or how we got it home for that matter. What I do remember is that the bike was in pieces and it’s single piston was seized…stuck. Rusted in place. There was no starting it..and no two wheeled fun to be had until the offending piston could be un-stuck.

My dad was raised during the depression…and as a result, he learned to do all things mechanical for himself and mostly by himself. He had an old Indian motorcycle when he was a kid so I think the idea of having a bike again was nearly as exciting for him as it was for me. We surveyed the pile of parts now in our garage…it was hard for me to imagine this box of parts running again…but I was short-sighted.

Now I don’t remember all dad did to get that piston un-stuck…only that it required a lot of patience and a lot of oil. As the oil was working it’s way down the cylinder, persuading the metal of the piston and cylinder wall to play nice once again…dad was cleaning and assembling the other pieces and parts…with me mostly “holding the flashlight”…which is code for…”actually holding the flashlight.” I am, and will always be….”mechanically declined.” But put a flashlight in my hands and boy-howdy…I am one “heck-of-a” useful instrument.

Over the course of a few weeks the bike started to come together. We got a new battery, pumped up the tires, changed the brakes, adjusted the clutch and did all the pre-flight checks we could while we waited for the penetrating oil to work on the stuck piston. And one day…a few weeks into the project…dad went out to garage…he gingerly stepped on the kickstart and it moved freely. The cylinder walls had relinquished their hold on the piston and although it didn’t start right away…I could sense the motorcycle was close to having a working motor and that meant I was close to being gone! Open road here I come, bugs in my teeth and all!

Dad continued to work with the motor. The penetrating oil was drained and replaced with linseed oil then the motor was run for a while. That linseed oil was replaced with regular motor oil and the motor was run some more. When dad was confident that the bike wouldn’t quit…he ventured a ride around the block. Success! Now it was my turn. I hopped on the bike…and after a couple of quick kicks…it fired up. I oriented myself to the stuff I’d need on this short trip. Brakes, Clutch, Speedometer, shifter…then off I went…The motorcycle was fixed and maybe not good as new…but I was riding and that’s all that mattered.

It’s not hard to draw some significant spiritual analogies here…which is my intention after all. The analogies are so obvious on the one hand…but also so easy to miss on the other. The secret to getting them is that you have to be “willing to see what you look at.” I mean see like the Na’vi sense… (You know…the big blue people in Avatar…c’mon!) To be redundant…(unless you haven’t seen Avatar..) The type of “seeing” I’m referring to is what you do with your eyes and heart and mind and soul. Let’s call it spiritual awareness only possible via the Holy Spirit.

I’m finding that many of us are “stuck” spiritually these days. We need an overhaul. We need our oil changed…we need re-building and re-purposing. Not at our own hands…but by the Master mechanic. Only God has the tools at his disposal to “un-stick” us. To fix us…to get us back on the road to fulfill our destiny in Him. The process is often long and slow. But as one of my friends used to say when he was in a particularly sticky situation…”this isn’t where I started….and it’s not where I’m gonna stay”

I don’t know about you…but I’m on the way to the shop!

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