“They” say I’m not a social person.
And they are probably right. I am too quiet, too much an introvert, too uncomfortable in informal situations where I have little sense of the implicit rules.
Social, friendly, outgoing - let me introduce you to my wife! Look for me on the edge if you need me.
And yet, I have found a context in which I am the one doing virtually all the interaction, with no anxiety.
On this road trip from Victoria (or Victoria, Canada as we explain to the Americans) to Sedona, Arizona at virtually every stop, whether it be a scenic pullout, a gas station or motel, I find myself engaged in conversation with men I have never met before.
Usually, it begins. “Nice ride.” Then . . .
Thanks. It’s the new Fiat 124.
Back when I was young I used to have a Spider, loved that car but it spent more time in Luigi’s garage than on the road. (Laughter)
Is that a new ‘Vette? No, but thanks for saying’. It’s a ’97. My treasure. The guy who owned it loved it so much he never drove it. 40,000 miles when I got it.”
And so the conversations go, each with various anecdotes depending upon the model of car or bike.
The conversations flow easily. No judgment, just curiosity. The other guy might prefer North American muscle cars - Camaros, Mustangs, GTOs; I lean in the direction of Europe - Audi, BMW, Porsche, Fiat. Not a problem. Some technical details might emerge but, as often, glimpses into personal issues involving pain, regret, joy.
“Had to sell my TR6 when I got married. Three kids later - who are great, on my way to see one now - but no wife and no TR6. Driving this old piece of junk now.”
Often expressions of long held dreams will ignite.
“Ever since I was a kid I wanted a Harley or, preferably an Indian Scout. Must have been those James Dean posters. Now finally, with this white hair and arthritic hips, I’ve mounted up. Thank God for Ibuprofen and the open road.”
So forget Pub Theology or Coffee Shop Ministry! Let the church buy me a sweet sports car and I’ll make the rounds of Show ’n Shines and take road trips with stops every hour. I’ll do pastoral care, theological reflection, offer testimony and nurture a network and we’ll call the ministry “On The Way.”