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.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES