It’s a pretty certain indication spring has arrived when I see Dwight, my Harley riding neighbour, sitting outside in the sun having a beer with Graham. On warm days he often opens his garage door and can see Graham when he is outdoors, working on his yard almost across the street. The man standing in this photo is Clay, Dwight’s friend from Summerland.
Dwight and Graham represent two quite different cultures. Dwight worked in the Alberta oil patch many years. He rides a Harley and so do most of his friends. His biker buddies speak a “language” that Dwight knows is not suitable in conversations with Graham. He is quite able to make the switch.
Graham is pastor of Hedley’s only church. He once rode a Harley and had a significant alcohol issue. Unlike most former alcoholics though, he can have one beer and not desire more. He refers to himself as a “delivered” (as opposed to recovered) alcoholic. I’ve never heard even the sniff of a rumour that he still has a problem.
His past has shaped him perfectly to be a pastor in this community where interest in religion is minimal at best. He is able to relate and interact with his small congregation and with those who have no interest in the faith. Also with the beer drinkers. Some in town come to him for counselling. He is asked to perform Celebration of Life ceremonies, and sometimes weddings.
With his history, Graham seems to understand the biker/beer culture. In his mid-seventies he sometimes says, “I’d like to have one more ride on a Harley.”
Although the two men are radically different in their life style, they evidently have some values in common. Where they may differ, they are tolerant. Dwight apparently sees something in Graham that he likes and respects. He told me last year, “Graham is my best friend.”
This friendship between a Harley rider and a pastor is intriguing and somewhat unconventional. But then, Hedley is an intriguing and somewhat unconventional community.