Wednesday, October 19, 2011
We drove through the gate and saw her. There she sat in the middle of the gravel parking lot, a bone yard of sorts filled with abandoned, wrecked, impounded and towed vehicles of all shapes and sizes. And the place I had her stored; a twenty-one foot Dura-Craft with a seventy horse Johnson, two live wells, closed bow storage, depth finder and electric trolling motor. Not too pretty but the best fishing boat in the world – at least I thought so.
But then we saw it.
We stared at it lying on its side in the dirt. Evidence of something bad – real bad stared back. The left side was pretty much gone. Gas tank, handle bars, foot peg, saddle bag - mangled metal and leather baring scars that won’t heal; wounds that ran deep – too deep for repair.
I could almost smell, and almost hear, the burning of screeching rubber; the collision of bone and metal; could almost feel the ripping of flesh and leather.
My son, Josiah read my mind and gave it voice; “You’re looking at the bike of a dead man”.
His words startled, yet I knew they were probably true by looking at the twisted hunk of what was once a Honda motorcycle.
I looked at the sun, my old racing partner, as she rounded the bend on the back side of the day. Guess he’s done racing the sun – and now, maybe he’s facing The Son, I thought.
“Oregon, he was a long way from home. But now, well, I suppose he’s home… for good.” I said tapping the license tag with my foot.
We walked away in silence and resumed our mission to commission Josiah as the new captain of the ship. His big dreams and big plans for the boat hadn’t changed but the mood went bitter-sweet.
We hooked onto boat and drove away. The bike stayed there on its side in the dirt, but the memory followed me home.
Later we were told the story: A seventeen year old driving a one ton dually fell asleep at the wheel and drifted into oncoming traffic. Two out of state bikers passing through, on vacation, both died. The pickup driver was admitted and released unharmed – at least not physically. But, I suppose, emotional scars will run deep and perhaps last a life time. The newspaper report had little detail about those involved; a pickup driven by a juvenile, two out of state cyclists…not much more.
Around here it’s harvest time. I wonder… Junior’s sleepy. He pulled an all-nighter in the field bringing in the harvest – thought he’d give Dad the night off to get some rest. But, as his thoughts drifted toward his bed his truck drifted to the left and…life happened, ended, jaded.
In the evening quiet I see my reflection and hear a revised version of Josiah’s words play in my head: “You’re looking at the life of a dead man.”
And I wonder… How many times have I fallen asleep at the wheel of life? How often have I drifted off course in word or deed causing casualty; allowing words to drift out of line; slumbering prayers; apathetic action? Lord knows my scars run deep and the aging signs of a twisted mangled life stare at me in the mirror.
Hopelessness grabs me hard. I have to tell myself to breath.
Why does life happen so hard? And so unfair? And so random? Why even try to find joy when all around is sorrow; pain; lack – a bone yard of abandoned, wrecked imprisoned lives? What is the answer to this mess?
I think of the boat, my life. Its future was bleak – with me as the captain, another endless winter in a bone yard of death. But… now, all that has changed since it has a new captain, and he plans to make all things new.
And it becomes clear… The Captain of our soul has arrived. The word Josiah means the Lord understands. He understands our weakness, our failures, our sins and He has driven not truck but nails into His torn and twisted flesh to hook onto us and deliver us from this body of death and offer Salvation and make all things new.
And that boat’ll float all the way to heaven.