Get Your Hands Dirty

I once had a ’78 Honda CB650C.  It was a fussy bike and I knew every bolt and screw on it.  About once a week, Ol’ Duke left me on the side of the road.

It wasn’t a bad looking bike, but it had started to rust.  Outside and inside the tank.  I added an in-line fuel filter that needed weekly replacement.  The chain required constant adjustment.  It ate batteries.  I could remove the carburetors, clean them and put them back on in less than an hour.

Once, I had planned a week-long ride across North Carolina.  I would hit Deal’s Gap before it got dark, then head to the NC/TN border the next morning.  Before I left, I spent a day getting all the maintenance out of the way.

Things were going well.  I was headed east on 74, looking forward to getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was raining.  Not hard, but enough to keep everything wet.

Suddenly, Ol’ Duke lost power.  I pulled safely onto the shoulder.  No luck getting it started again.  I knew the battery was strong because I replaced it before the trip.  Carbs were clean, no fuel leaks and a fresh filter.  Everything looked good.  I removed the tank to get a better look.

I had noticed that there was some dry rot on the plug wire insulators before I left, but I didn’t think it was bad enough to cause problems.  I guess when I put everything back together before leaving, I had somehow caused it to break down, exposing bare wire.

And there I was.  200 miles from home on day 1 with rain shorting out the electrical system.

There was a Honda dealership just past the parkway exit.  They laughed at the thought of a dismantled CB650 on the side of the road but incredibly, they found a set of plug wires that would fit Ol’ Duke.  I made it back and installed the new wires.

I was on the parkway within 30 minutes.

I enjoyed riding Ol’ Duke, but my hands were always getting dirty.

That reminds me of my Christian ethics professor Amy Laura Hall.  She would say something like, “True Christianity is not a suit and tie in a beautiful, clean church.  If you’re doing it right, your hands get dirty.  You’re tired.  It doesn’t always smell good.  It’s not pretty.”

You get the idea.  I liked her class.

Christianity doesn’t just happen between 9 and noon on Sunday morning in an oak pew.  Christianity happens at 2am when a sponsor talks an alcoholic down.  It happens on Monday night serving supper at the Salvation Army.  Or on Saturday afternoon building a wheelchair ramp for an elderly couple.  Those are the moments when you see God.

Done right, Christianity gets your hands dirty.

Now my hands stay pretty clean with Hoss, my BMW R1200RT.  That’s pretty good for riding.

You’re not likely to see God with clean hands though.

Further Reading …

This post references Duke Divinity School faculty member Amy Laura Hall.  This post also references the Blue Ridge Parkway and Deal’s Gap.  Ride both of them at least once – you’ll be glad you did.