I love to row. To stretch this now-old body. At the Flagship, in the little harbor of the latest in rowing machines, I do 90 to 100 strokes. In my head I'm on Ossipee Lake in New Hampshire, rowing out to Pine River Point in increments of 30, then back to shore. And, while at the point, I rest on my oars and "Look to the Mountain," The very mountain I've looked to all my life, Chocorua. Gracefully rising along a north to south ridge of three low summits called The Three Sisters. Then steeply to a graceful point going south are Paugus, Passaconaway, and Whiteface.
The sight of them, in summer, feeds my soul, lifts my heart, speaks to me of God. "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth." I am taken out of myself, for a few restful moments.
But all of that is on the water, in the summer, with real oars, in the light graphite single shell Colonial friends gave me when we left our long ministry there, twenty-five years ago.
Now, sitting on the sliding seat on the stationary rowing machine, it's all in my head. It's remembering. It's imaginary. I have in my hands a delicately calibrated pulley to give the feeling of oars through the water.
I'm trying to be there three afternoons a week. I walk the perimeter too - 500/600 steps. I even lift a few light dumbbells.
They help me live, and feel whole, and maybe gain strength. There are friends there, too. There's Greg, a founder of the Flagship health club. He's taught some fine athletes to play tennis. And the Johnsons - Ken and son Brett - who own The Hilltop Restaurant. Fine, faithful, handsome men. And a former baseball player I call "Coach." And a downtown restaurateur who reminds me of Zorba the Greek.
We talk of idle things and sometimes serious things there, in the men's locker room. Sometimes faith comes up. And, there's Jim, who seems to be the encourager of all the others. He includes me in his encouragements. I'm grateful. And leave feeling better.
Even behind the front desk, there are pals who greet me and wave me off with shining smiles. We help each other live.
But after the drive home to "Covenant Living," I get to sit, and write. Just whatever's there, in my heart. About the passing parade of my old man's world. The people who actually make appointments to sit by the fireplace in our common area near the coffee pots and front entry way.
Today, before my appointed visitor arrived, a woman approached before heading to Byerly's: Do you have a high-five handshake for me today? I need it so much." A man from her town who had turned out to be her cousin, had died last week. She is bereft. But our little passing handshake means even more to her now in her grief.
There's a lot you see, from a sitting position, in a locker room and even in an old folks' home. People want "a word," a high-five, an acknowledgement that we are friends.
That's worth a lot. More than we think. Wonderful things from the sitting position. Bless you, as you sit, and rise up. The world is waiting.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES