Approx. read time: 3:20 min.
Byebye Bijou is one of my signature stories. In fact, it’s the story of the one courageous act that has reshaped my life. Read the whole story here!
At the moment I’m sitting in my car in the shade of a tree near Campbell Community Center.
The engine has just died. Again.
So I have plenty of time to think. About an hour, actually. It usually takes close to an hour before the engine will start again.
Trust me, I know. My car engine dies a lot.
So I begin to think of all the places my beloved Bijou has inconveniently dropped anchor …
At the intersection of Willamette and 29th Avenue. At Willamette and West 11th. At the South Side Post Office. At East 27th and High Street. In the parking structure beneath the public library.
And in Mapleton, at the west base of the Coast Range, where Highway 126 turns a sharp left toward Florence. An isolated place.
The problem is: Bijou is 25 years old, and I take her to the dealer for repair. I should know better. The dealer keeps her for maybe four days, always over a weekend, and to keep me happy he hands me the keys to a current model sweet little ride, thinking I might get hooked on that New Car Smell.
So I think these thoughts as I sit in the shade of this tree at Campbell Center. I turn the key in the ignition, just hoping, but Bijou still isn’t starting. So I think some more.
I think of how, just last week, I paid my annual auto insurance premium. And how my insurance goes up 20 percent each year, apparently just because it can.
And the question pops into my mind: Would my world unravel if I didn’t have a car?
My eyes drift into middle space. In this moment, I notice, I am free—utterly free—to imagine my life differently.
Where do I go where bus lines do not go? And I have to admit: Nowhere! Well, I may have to walk a few blocks. So what? I can walk a mile in twenty minutes easy. I hike mountain trails for six hours once a week.
I reach for my phone and call my insurance agent, a very nice lady whom in fourteen years I have never actually met. I tell her that I just paid my annual premium, that my car isn’t worth it, that I’m going to donate it to charity and I’m not going to replace it.
And, might I please get a refund?
The insurance lady is gracious and very understanding. A full refund, of course, she says.
I am stunned at what I have just said: I am giving away my car and I am not going to replace it!
As though I have just uttered a vow to the heavens, I feel my words become like some massive door which swings open, inviting me to Just Walk Through.
My car was freedom to me, until it became an unfreedom. Now I will depend on public transit.
I used to drive around with no passengers, totally free. And now I will ride around with fellow passengers, totally free to encounter my world in new ways.
I exchange one vulnerability, I notice, for another. And this is life.
These are all my people. This is all my community. If I want to follow Jesus, I have to go where he goes, and love whom and what he loves.
Now, a few days later, I bid Bijou adieu as she gets fastened tight on the flatbed of Froggy’s Towing truck. I shall not look in the rearview mirror. Rather, I look forward to finding Jesus, among other places, on public transit.
Byebye Bijou, along with other great stories, appears on my spoken-word album, Free to be Free. On Spotify, along with the companion album, Living as Jesus Taught. And both are ready for digital download in the Store at marysharonmoore.com.
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Photo: Mary Sharon Moore, 2014