Light from the Darkness… with Motorcycles

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9–

For 14 years, on and off, my family, who owns not a single motorcycle, has participated in a Harley-Davidson style motorcycle ride on a sunny morning in central and southern Illinois and Indiana. We drive along in our minivan or our little Chevy Equinox. Our kids have sat in the car with us or rode with grandma and grandpa (also in their van) enjoying the scenery and the fun places where the ride stops.

We see some fantastic bikes, get to meet some amazing people, and make playlists in the car specifically for the event. As odd as it is to take a minivan to a motorbike ride, this is one of life’s good and honorable things.

Photo of the bike that Stephen Postlewait rode. Thanks to ride organizers for sharing the pictures for this article.

It is called the Postlewait-Griffin memorial ride, and over 14 years it has given over $100,000 dollars to create scholarships for High School students in Oblong, Illinois.

Oblong Illinois is my wife’s hometown, with a population of only 1,367 it’s even smaller than the small Illinois town I grew up in. On this day, families and friends from the area come together to remember, to fellowship and ride together, and to do good.

The ride is in memory of a tragedy that befell both our family, and another. August 21, 2009, saw the loss of a really special guy. John Adam Griffin, my wife’s oldest brother, and my eldest brother-in-law who welcomed me into the family and with whom I shared a love of reading Tolkien, American history, and playing chess. It was a vehicle accident that also claimed the life of Stephen Cole Postlewait. The two worked together at the Plumbers and steamfitters Local 157. They were headed to work together that day.

The first memorial ride was that very next year.

These events, for fourteen years, have brought light and goodness from a time of grief.

Every year we go (and we have only missed a few) and we love it! They raise the scholarship money in many different ways. There’s a commemorative T-shirt, and plenty of raffles (one for half a hog, and another for a rifle), and a lunch prepared by the local FFA. After they lunch there is an auction of items donated by the community and a host of local businesses, and the Oblong First Christian Church opens their family life center for the event to use all day.

And so, my family find ourselves joyfully driving along with a fleet of motorcycles–in our minivan–through the Illinois countryside sharing stories of the family, and fellowshipping with the good people of the area, and… it is good.

The Apostle Paul tells us to turn our attention to things that are true and honorable, just and pure, commendable and excellent. For me, this is one of those things. Families and volunteers have worked to bring something good from the grief of an accident that claimed two loved ones far too soon. They support the community together with these scholarships, they share stories, and enjoy they open road in a way that only a biker can. The spirit in the room is welcoming, humble, joyful, and… Good, with a capitol G. Here’s the group photo of everyone for this year’s ride where we stopped at the Indiana Military Museum:

As a Christian I find myself 100% in agreement with the Apostle Paul. If something is good, honorable, and praiseworthy, it is to be shared. James teaches us that: Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights… (James 1:17a). And Christ himself promises comfort to those in grief and mourning (Matthew 5:4). Maybe this is one of the ways that can happen.

Fellowship from Grief, Charity from Loss, Light from Darkness…

Sounds like a reflection of Jesus to me.

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