I feel today I am a man blessed beyond belief. Blessed beyond all deserving.
It is late summer, and for the first time, I have escaped to the quiet of my lovely dock, sanded and stained, and fitted together by a quiet, gracious man of high skill and willing spirit, whom God has sent to help us in our age and unsteadiness.
It is one of those perfect days of late summer when sweeping breezes come down from the north, across New Hampshire's Presidential Range, bearing, Molly says, "the aroma of the deep woods of Canada," and clearing our skies, making bold the mountains that ring our "inland sea" of Ossipee, and blowing, rippling diverse patterns across these blue waters.
It is all peace to my spirit. For one thing I could rise today, not feeling the depletion of energies that have gone into fighting the infection that has taken me to hospital for my summer's first week, and filled my system with antibiotic medicines. A day of strength returning, praise God, and life renewed.
This morning I walked my 1300 rather minimal steps along our wood road, and then sat in the sun on this same dock, watching two resourceful ducks swimming back and forth before me, dipping their bills into the water to catch whatever is their breakfast. Then I swam my 100 strokes in shallow water, yet exulting in the refreshment it gave my day, and my life.
On the edges of these peaceful days I listen to the news and learn the President has had his Arizona rally, even while protestors outside the hall, shouted "shame!" at those inside who had gathered to give their president a hearing and to cheer him on.
I listen with my old-age ears, to the shouters, and to the seemingly infinite number of "expert" commentators who offer their dire predictions of the American president's coming failure, complaining of his erratic tweets, his bluster in our precarious world.
How they rage that he was ever elected, and that they and their media sources got the election so wrong, and what a gang of bad people are in the White House now.
I find my soul saying, I'm tired of having to roll my eyes, and draw long breaths of hopelessness whenever I am caught in a conversation about the nation and this new kind of rough-edged and flawed president God has given us. I want to say, "Let him have his rally, and let the shame-shouters look to their own lives of self-righteous negativity."
Part of my privilege is that--though 88--I was welcomed to preach at one of the nearby summer chapels that have eagerly given me a Sunday each summer for over 40 years to speak to them from my heart, of the Lord I love, and the land I love, and to encourage them as I could, to be "soldiers of the cross" ever climbing "Jacob's ladder."
I took a chance this year and preached from Isaiah the prophet--"You are the land of God's Delight"--on "How Can America Be Changed?" I tried to say - "it is a matter of the Spirit, a thing of the heart" that America is about - having long ago been given a pilgrim vision of "the city set upon a hill, with the eyes of the world upon us" from words of Jesus, given to John Winthrop, Puritan leader, preaching to his fellow venturers to the New World.
I cherish that dream. Over the years, as pastor to growing congregations, I have tried to lift it up, and remind these American people what they have.
We were seen to be the Servant Nation, living not for ourselves, but for the world. To lift up the great idea God had for free people to serve each other, in love, and so also, the world beyond.
I cling to it still. I believe it is utterly possible. I believe we are God's people, chosen for servant work in the world, and that God chooses whom He will to be our leader.
Let us, my heart says, erase our cynicism, and humbly come to the task, as a whole people together, building what still can be, and what the world so deeply needs.
Written in hospital on Wednesday, July 26 -
I've had my first ambulance ride, at midnight Sunday from our Wolfeboro Hospital to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
I'd made the trip by air from Minneapolis to Boston after being diagnosed on Sunday at Park Nicollet with pneumonia. Had begun that next Monday with short, strong antibiotics. "You should feel better in 48 hours. If not, come back." The answer was not quite. Some frontal pain continued.
Molly wonderfully kept me going. The flying day went quite well, but some pain continued.
I slept lots and tried to be well. She and I both did our preaching thing at little Union Chapel in Wonalancet, NH. We sang Jesus hymns and had high worship with our little company of 15 people. Molly filled a pew with herself, Kristen, daughter Anna, and dear friend Nathan. The young gave added vigor to the hymns.
I preached from 1 Corinthians 15: 54-58 on Claiming the Victory. Now I am trying to practice what I preach, trusting all to Jesus.
It seemed important now to check with our Wolfeboro Hospital, since some pain was persisting. By very late that night it was clear that inflammation left in the earlier ruptured appendix, had created a possible blockage that would need to be dealt with by antibiotics again, or by drain, or other surgical approach. The latter being difficult at best and could be a possibly fatal complication.
We sang hymns, prayed, wept, chose a hospital able to make right choices, and were off through the night to my old town of Portsmouth, and a very patient and careful process that has already made progress.
Prayer is crucial to the success of all this - Join in the praying with whatever minutes and energy you may be able to offer.
All these weeks seem strangely a miracle time, bringing us closer in every way, surer than ever of the healing hands of God holding us.
Your partnership in prayer is so welcome right now. Your caring means so much.
[Note: Arthur has been released from the hospital since this blog was written and is resting and working at increasing his strength at his summer home in NH]
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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