The Patron Saint of Motorcyclists -2019

Here I sit, in the restaurant Panera, on a rainy day in Rome, Georgia, grading papers, when I’d rather be out riding my motorcycle on St Columbanus Feast Day, who, as we know, is the Patron Saint of Motorcyclists!

Here’s a link to a page I wrote a while back to explain as to why the Irish monk, Columbanus, is our patron saint.
Motorcyclists that do venture out today will most certainly be wishing each other: Sona (happy in Irish) Columbanus Day! We bikers are far more literary and learned than we look!
Sona Columbanus Day!

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The Patron Saint of Motorcyclists Feast Day, November 23rd.

Just reminding everyone that today is that special day where motorcyclists everywhere wander out to their garage to stare at the bike they wish they could ride today if it wasn’t so dang cold.  St Columbanus Feast Day!

Here’s a link to a page I wrote a while back to explain as to why Columbanus is our patron saint.

Motorcyclists that do venture out today will most certainly be wishing each other: Sona (happy in Irish) Columbanus Day! We are far more literary and learned than we look!

Sona Columanus Day!




Patron Saint of Motorcyclists -St. Columbanus of Bobbio’s Feast Day! November 23rd.

I’m packing up Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King Classic, and heading out on a trip tomorrow. Here in Georgia USA the weather’s supposed to be in the low 70’s. I’ve got hula girl standing and swaying on the bike where my clock used to be- she’s there to remind me to have fun and not take things, myself included, too seriously. In my windshield bag I’ve got a cross and some prayer beads – to keep me reverent, and I’ve got a medal celebrating the patron saint of motorcyclists – St. Columbanus. Tomorrow is his feast day which should augur well for a safe trip. But who decided he was the one who would be the patron saint? Apparently, the Vatican and the Harley Davidson company who made a medal promoting him. And just who was this St Columbanus of Bobbio?

Despite the Italian ‘Bobbio’, this guy was an Irish dude! What a surprise! During the dark ages in the sixth and seventh centuries when the Irish were saving civilization and Christianity, he ventured away from Ireland wandering up and down Europe starting monasteries and spreading the word about Christ.
How do we know he was Irish? Apparently what cinches it is that that we know he lived at home with his mother into his 30’s, he wasn’t married, and he didn’t have a job. Ha ha! (Old Irish joke).
Seriously though, the story goes that he was tall and good looking and the girls chased him (I can relate to that except for the tall bit, and the good looking part and, well…). He was also a bit of a wild guy with the ladies, who chased after him -okay, okay so there’s no resemblance between us at all! Gimme a break. Anyway, a holy woman put the fear of God in him and he decided to change his wild ways and become a priest. When his mother found out she tried to block the door physically with her body, but he just stepped over her, signed up and got his traveling orders. He traveled throughout Europe, to Germany and Switzerland and ended up living in decadent France for 20 years, establishing three monasteries there before he moved to Italy. He carried his Celtic Christian ideas and practices with him.
He lived in a cave for years, was very pious and is said to have wrestled a bear. But unlike Davy Crockett he didn’t kill it; instead he tamed it and yoked it to a plow.
He is quoted as having said, “Love is not orderly.” You gotta love this guy!
Miracles credited to Columbanus include:
Once after being surrounded by wolves, he simply walked through them
When he needed a cave for his solitary prayers and a bear lived there he asked politely for the bear to skedaddle and he did.
When the Luxeuil Abbey granary ran empty, Columbanus prayed over it and it refilled.
He cured several sick monks and gave sight to a blind man at Orleans
But my favorite is that he multiplied bread and beer for his community. We’re talking about craft, micro-brewed beer here! Bikers love their fresh beer!
If Columbanus were alive today I imagine him riding a Road King like mine. If not, maybe a Harley Fat Boy. The Fat Boy is a living legend. Arnold Schwarzenegger rode one in “Terminator 2”. Its got a 1,584cc pushrod V-twin engine, six gears, massive torque and you’ve got to love those shotgun-style tailpipes. It’s nimble, has no saddlebags and is perfect for itinerant monks flying around on those twisty heathen roads in Europe. Combine all this with Christianity and you can’t be beat! Love and a Fat Boy can conquer all!
I like what the Monk Jonas wrote in the seventh century about one of the miracles of Columbanus.
A while after, Columbanus went to the monastery of Fontaines and found sixty brethren hoeing the ground and preparing the fields for the future crop. When he saw them breaking up the clods with great labor, he said, “May the Lord prepare for you a feast, my brethren.” Hearing this the attendant said, “Father, believe me, we have only two loaves and a very little beer.” Columbanus answered, “Go and bring those.” The attendant went quickly and brought the two loaves and a little beer. Columbanus, raising his eyes to heaven, said, “Christ Jesus, only hope of the world, do Thou, who from five loaves satisfied five thousand men in the wilderness, multiply these loaves and this drink.” Wonderful faith! All were satisfied and each one drank as much as he wished. The servant carried back twice as much in fragments and twice the amount of drink.

So I hope you will celebrate his feast day on November 23rd in some appropriate fashion. I’ll be hitting the highway.

May he always help us keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down.

(Some of this is taken from one of my previous blog entries.)

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Day 5: What’s a Bad Riding Day Look Like? Today. Lakeville, Minnesota.

Right now it’s 38 degrees (3 degrees Celsius), raining and the wind is blowing out of the west at 13 mph. Could be worse though. Could be snowing like it was when I was riding through the Rockies two years ago, about this same time of year. When I left this morning it was 44 degrees so the temperature has dropped. I’m trying to make it up to Fargo today (250 miles away) but it’s going to be challenging.  The rain has already soaked through my trousers.  This morning was not fun – my windshield was coated with raindrops, so was my helmet visor and then I had the spray from the 18 wheelers. Fortunately, I made it to a Starbucks. Yippie! Going to hunker down here for a while, warm up, dry out, change clothes and then try the road again. Only managed 50 miles this morning so I’ll be “nickel and diming” the miles up to Fargo.  Gonna need the protection of St. Columbanus, the patron saint of motorcycle riders, today if I’m to keep my Zen going! (I know- mixing theologies there a bit!). Still, I’m happy! Watch out for motorcycles!

Adventures in Motorcycling: Pub Theology. Have We Kicked God out of the Bars Now?

I’ve covered about 500 miles on the bike so far and have ridden through Georgia, Alabama, and Florida in the last two days. Right now I’m hunkering down at the Key West Inn in Fairhope, Alabama. Just back from McSharry’s Irish Pub where I had a really good Sheppard’s Pie and a pint of draft Smithwicks. And for the first time in my life I experienced Pub Theology. Apparently the first Wednesday of the month they bring religion into the pub. But I don’t think this is really necessary. I would argue that at least in the southern part of the United States God has never really left the bar. He’s mentioned in just about every other sentence or at least every other conversation. Come to think of it a woman friend of mine and I were talking about Jesus just the other day in Old Havana Cigar Bar in Rome, Georgia. We didn’t really come to an agreement. I thought He’d be okay with certain things that she didn’t think He’d approve of. Tonight was a bit different. It was more of a lecture by an older man who, along with others, had done some inspirational work in helping folks out. I want to acknowledge that. But frankly, a few other heathens and I decided to head for the smoking area outside.
In the southern part of the USA you can’t go far in any restaurant or bar without some kind of spiritual conversation taking place. This morning, a man singled me out at McDonalds (because of my biker gear) and spoke to me about motorcycles and Jesus. I enjoyed the conversation though I didn’t agree that Jesus had a preference for Harley engine modifications made by the Screamin Eagle Company. Yesterday, In Dothan I met up with a friend at the Waffle House and we talked about Buddhism and she gave me a Tibetan Buddhist charm for my motorcycle. Though I consider myself a Christian I acknowledge contributions and insights from other religions. On my motorcycle I have a medal from St Columbanus, the patron saint of motorcycle riders. The medal reminds me to be reverent in my travels. I also have the Taoist Yin Yang symbol on a bracelet attached to my mirror to help me remember to be balanced and to trust the journey. Now I have a Buddhist charm to remind me to stay in the here and now and to show loving kindness and compassion to everyone I meet. I also have a hula girl which is there to remind me to not take myself too seriously and to be silly sometimes.
I was in a great honky-tonk in Rome the other day; The Sports Page. It had been awhile since I listened to some country western tunes but I’m relieved to know that God is still in many of them. I managed to hear some of my old favorites and the lines: “It wasn’t God who made honky-tonk angels and taught all them good girls to go wrong.” And another I remember from years ago: “One night of love don’t make up for six nights alone. But I’d rather have one than none Lord ‘cause I’m flesh and bones.”
The south in the USA is Christ Haunted so expect Him to pop up not only on Sundays and Wednesdays in the churches but also in conversations anywhere, from the gas station to the bowling alley. And definitely, definitely in bars.

Day 1: Hula girl, Yin Yang, St Columbanus and Motel 6

Day 1: Hula girl, Yin Yang, St Columbanus and Motel 6
Just got in to Memphis and I’m hunkered down at an old Motel 6. And yes, they kept the light on for me. Stopped at a Comfort Inn but they wanted over $120 for a room. Found this place just two miles away for just $53. And it even comes with a bottle opener attached to the wall. I’m trying my best to keep expenses down to $100 a day. Today I had the Over 55 breakfast at Krystal for $3.25. Gas/petrol was $36 and with the room that made $92.25. Other expenses put me up to around $104. Not bad.
Crazy ride today. Left Rome when it was about 75 degrees and now it’s 55. Went through sunny weather, rain and a thunderstorm. Still it was fun. So good to clear my mind and let go of things.
325 miles today without any real difficulties. Not surprising because I had good mojo working. I have hula girl on the bike again, in good shape. She had lost her grass skirt and I had to take one from a spare broken hula girl (I know, I know) and tidy her up. I also have a medal to protect me. St Columbanus, the patron saint of motorcyclists. Finally, I have a Yin Yang medal hooked on my right handlebar. So what could go wrong?
What I remember of today was the beautiful azure, cloudy sky when I left Rome. The magnolia trees and their white blossoms. Purple wildflowers, daisies, Mexican primroses by the road side as I flew past. Regal Live oaks. Then a violent thunderstorm, the sky gunmetal grey and thumping. I hightail it through the rain to the cover of a gas station.
Good trip so far. Grateful, thankful, prayerful.