Where Would Jesus Ride?

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
While it might be argued that Jesus, given His issues with the Italians, would not ride a Moto Guzzi, few would challenge the right to His ride of choice.

The question of what Jesus would ride will obviously never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction. The faithful of all brands would welcome the common bond with the Savior, and who wouldn’t savor a ride with a guy who died and came back, right? Not to mention the son of God.

But the question of where He would ride arrived on the eve of our annual spring group ride, which, as if by prophecy, fell this year on Easter weekend. So our previously unnamed congregation of road-worn elders gained the title of Geezers for Jesus. And by consensus it was clear that, should He happen to show up on the central coast of California, Jesus of Nazareth would clearly choose the inland route between the coast ranges – Highway 25 north from San Miguel to Hollister, 100 miles of motorcycling majesty. Not a King’s Highway perhaps, but a pastoral byway for all the peaceful pilgrims on a mission from God. Or Buddha, Muhammad, Ra, Shiva or the deity of one’s choosing.

This begat the question of what He would ride if He did appear. I had seen The Jesus Bike years ago at Sturgis, but doubted it might still be available. We agreed that we would simply draw straws to see who would carry Him as a passenger. Options were kept open. Maybe He’ll call ahead.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
The hiking trails in the Pinnacles wind through a complex mix of talus caves (home to many species of bats), dark gorges and shear fractures, created long ago by movement of the nearby San Andreas fault. The area attracts many rock climbers.

And His destination, like ours, would obviously be the Catholic mission at San Juan Bautista. One of Father Junipero Serra’s nine missions, the adobe chapel would host the Easter mass for the congregation of the mostly Mexican-Americans, some with generational roots here going back three centuries. But first we were keen to show the Prince of Peace our newest national park, The Pinnacles, and its complex jumble of geology, flora and fauna. The latter comprised largely of industrious ground squirrels, whose work is truly holey.

Downtown San Juan Bautista is a three-block stretch of what could still pass for a 19th-century farm town. While nearby Hollister has capitalized on the enduring mythology of The Wild Ones movie, it’s now an economic hub and modern city. San Juan Bautista still looks like a town that Johnny and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would visit. And, as if on cue on this Saturday night, the row of Harleys takes up half the town on both sides of the street. The two popular saloons, Daisy’s and Mom & Pop’s, are packed all night. Loud music and dancing ensue. There is some drinking, but no violence is reported.

We conclude, after some period of participating in the festivities, that if Jesus were here, and that if He did actually ride a Harley, He might well be right here, rockin’ on the bass. Maybe He was, for all we know.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
Robinson Jeffers built Hawk Tower himself with stones from the beach.

After Easter, headed home, Jesus would surely go for a ride through Big Sur, first stopping by the home of poet Robinson Jeffers, who built his house of stone on the water’s edge at Carmel. He wrote,

Though one at the end of the age and
   far off from this place
Should meet my presence in a poem,
The ghost would not care but be here, long sunset shadow
  in the seams of the granite, and forgotten
The flesh, a spirit for the stone.

So, at least for central California, this is a recommended loop for riders one and all. Of course we have to be realistic; Jesus may have ridden it years ago, on a 1941 Indian. But if He did happen to be in the neighborhood, we’d be glad to give Him a look. After all, we are blessed in the amount of remaining geography that is accessible on two wheels, and that much of it is forever resistant to “development.” Whether it remains that way, we can only pray. (And write letters when necessary.)

Ride in peace. Amen.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
Geezers for Jesus soaking up a glorious Easter weekend.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
Some Native Americans object to the canonization of Father Serra, on the grounds that he treated their ancestors as little more than slave labor. Only the Lord knows.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
Another literary fellow came as a visitor to the Big Sur, but by then his devout Catholicism had been mostly dissolved in alcohol. Nonetheless, Jack Kerouac’s books still take up a couple shelves in the Nepenthe book store. Henry Miller’s old place, now a library, is just down the road.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a magical place at the northern end of motorcycling heaven, the 74-mile stretch of California Route 1 that hugs the rugged coast all the way to San Simeon.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
Looking south from Nepenthe. The Pacific coastline has been attracting artists and writers since the highway opened in 1937. From here the Lord might well reflect on His father’s handiwork, and maybe have a beer.

What Would Jesus Ride? Tod Rafferty
The crooks, crannies and crevasses of the Pinnacles are navigable by even novice hikers, but some passages are out of the sun’s reach. Bring a flashlight.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Jesus wouldn’t ride at all. He would likely hitch-hike and travel by public transportation.

    And his destination? Not some ancient monument. He’d be heading for places where he could find the poor, the sick and the imprisoned. (And given the state of the USA, he wouldn’t have to travel far in any direction).

  2. As per Zechariah 9:9, he would come humbly, riding a young donkey, which is obviously a Honda Super Cub. Again obviously, this would have been a gift from one of the wise men from the East.

    We refer to New Zealand as Godzone, a place of great beauty and peace. Jesus would fit right in here, especially as he liked a barbecue and a beer. We would probably call him “Mate” and he’d be very useful hammering nails into a shed or a garage. You do meet the nicest people on a Honda.

  3. I’d love to visit NZ some time. Sounds terrific.

    However, I’d take issue with the notion that Jesus would seek out a place of such beauty and solitude for very long. Although he is recorded as “retreating” for brief periods on occasion, he really appeared to be most at home among the poor and the dispossessed, (lepers, Samaritans, widows, etc., etc.). Besides that he clearly relished giving the high-and-mighty a good intellectual spanking – and they were always hanging about in town.

    If he was going to ride, I suspect you’d be right about the Cub. Not intimidating (no Harley-esque poser value) and the kind of bike that people might feel comfortable approaching the rider to talk about it, (“My dad/uncle/sister/I used to have one of those…”)

    You’ve also left me with a great image of Jesus and his 12 buddies putting about Jerusalem on a bunch of step-throughs and mopeds – beards and robes flapping in the wind. Thanks for the great giggle.

    Cheers mate!

    Alex

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