Quakers: Not just for breakfast anymore

2/28/06 upi article

So There I was…

… At a truck stop café, stocking up on a warm breakfast to keep me going through a long day of motorcycle riding. My ride is a Kawasaki Vulcan 750 named Rocinante, or Rosie, or just “The Holy Kaw.” When I am out on the road my mode of transport is obvious, even when she is parked outside because I am always wearing leathers and there is a full-face helmet on the counter next to me. I usually take a seat at the counter because the leathers don’t bend so good, and it’s hard to get in and out of them.

I am minding my own business, but that never seems to prevent other people from minding my business with me. A big trucker plants himself next to me. The correlation between truckers and bikers is significantly high.

“Hey, pretty lady, where you riding off to today?”

They never seem to be able to leave the solo female biker thing alone. But I take no offense. I give a brief itinerary. Weather is discussed -- I never discount weather info from a trucker.

“So, Whatcha do when you aren’t ridin?”

“I’m a Quaker preacher.”

This always stops them for a moment. Silence ensues, which is appropriate since Quakers often worship in silence. The next question is almost always…

“I thought you guys were all dead.”

We are often confused with the Shakers – an 18th century sect that did not believe in procreation and hence mostly died out. Quakers have been around since 1652, have had women preachers all that time, and, for good or ill, we do have children.

“Nope, we’re still going strong.” I answer.

“And you ride motorcycles?”

Confusion with the Amish is often next. Quakers have no conscience against technology per se.

“Yep, and cars and airplanes and everything.”

“Hunh” I can see the confusion generalizing. I decide to volunteer a bit of information.

“And, we don’t look like the Quaker Oats guy anymore.”

“I can see that – but you are eating the oatmeal.”

“Oh Yes, we are very religious about the oatmeal.”

Actually, Quakers have never produced, sold, or had any official connection with commercial oatmeal production. Those guys are trading off our good name. I think we should get a discount, but we don’t. However, sometimes I just can’t resist messing with the heads of random truckers.

“So what are y’all about?”

“Oh, you know, the standard Jesus stuff -- being good to folks even when they aren’t good to you, taking care of the poor, keeping it simple, telling it like it is.”


“OK, we don’t really care so much about the oatmeal. Cream of Wheat is perfectly acceptable.” (Got caught by my own preaching once again.)

“You know, I always thought Jesus would make a good biker.”

“Me too, buddy, me too.”

“Oh, you know, the standard Jesus stuff -- being good to folks even when they aren’t good to you, taking care of the poor, keeping it simple, telling it like it is.”

Keeping it simple, telling it like it is. Thank you.
Awesome. Thanks! - Rob
haha - I don't really know what to say other than I want to be a Quaker biker too.
best explanation I have heard of of the "standard Jesus stuff". Thanks.
Motorcycling gives great opportunity to witness. Of course you have to combine it with the discipline of talking to strangers. It is amazing to me how many adults, especially women can go days or weeks and not talk to someone they do not already know.
The discipline of talking with strangers. There you go, that's an important one. I wish I could explain Quakerism so easily. I would have gotten all caught up in inexplicable lingo, hmms, uhhs, and haws. I love your definition, I have to try to remember it. Your post makes me want to get a motorcycle.

Are you sure your ministry isn't paid for by Kawasaki USA? I can just see the execs in the board room: what demographic is ripe for motorcycle ownership: Quaker preacher wannabees! "Get Peggy on the bike, she'll sell 'em!"

Your Friend and fellow two-wheeler,
Truly! I should not only get the oatmeal discount, but a full Kawasaki sponsorship. Believing in radical inclusivity as I do, I would promise to preach the Gospel at Sturgis AND Daytona!

I once experienced absolute divine intervention at the hand of Corporate Team Kawasaki Racing - but that is another story.

When I get back from preaching in Berkeley this weekend I am going to buy a new steed. This one will be a Kawasaki ZG1000. Rosie - faithful companion though she has been, has only a 3 gal gas tank. The ZG has 7.5 and at 45 plus mpg that gets you a bit down the road. I have felt a gentle tug to visit Friends in Alaska for some time now.

I know the 'Holy Kaw' bit is probably insensitive to Hindu bikers, but God forgive me - I just can't leave it alone.
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