Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Long Road...

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I entered the gym for the first time since having my hip replaced a few weeks earlier.  I changed quickly, went upstairs and found a bicycle to ride.  Just a short time ago, I would have hopped on a treadmill and run for thirty minutes or so during my lunch hour.

Not anymore.

From my elevated perch, I could see younger, virile men running on those same machines. I thought about wanting to join them, all the while recalling the words of my doctor who gave great warning against such.

I thought about how much I wanted to run with my daughter again- about cool, saturday morning winds kissing our cheeks and the lonely sounds of four feet plodding about grayish pavement-about those future memories now forever lost. I asked a greedy prayer for God's rescue from my current predicament.

And then I saw her.

She wore a purple blouse and black pants with wide, purple stripes down the sides.  Beads of sweat hung on her pasty, pitted looking face.  She dragged mangled, palsied legs behind her thickish frame and leaned heavily on the silvery braces hooked to her arms.

She looked straight ahead as she walked alone on the track.

Slim, tanned gym ladies dwarfed her short frame and turtleish pace.  They lapped her multiple times while I pedaled.  But still, she labored on.  Her knees cocked inward, nearly brushing each other as she moved.  Her feet twisted outward making the walk impossible but for those braces.

While watching her, suddenly I felt the urge to get off of that bike, drop to my knees and ask forgiveness from the Great Creator above for my carnal, self-pity.

I didn't.

Curiously too, I felt compelled to join her, to walk beside her on the seemingly long journey-to introduce myself and know her as a friend.  I wanted to be Jesus to her- to live out my faith in a real and tangible way.  I wanted to make sure she knew her true value as a child of our King.  I wanted to make sure loneliness hadn't consumed her.  I wanted to be a defender of the defenseless.

Instead, I resisted the prompting of His Spirit.

And then she was gone.

My mind drifted back to myself as I finished the ride.  I showered and rushed back to work.

But tonight I thought about her again. I wondered about her hard road.  I wondered how she had the courage to walk alone and how I lacked the courage to even ask her name.

I wondered about the vain pursuit of an aesthetic, irrelevant ideal and my best efforts to obscure the reality of time's relentless tide against my body.

And then it occurred to me.

Its long past time.

Time to loose my ankles from the mire of this selfish, indulgent swine pit.  Time to crawl back onto the narrow path,and run once more in the unending pursuit of that Royal Father.  Time to enter through the servant's door and find a place at His great table.

Time to make my life count for something,

to be his subject.

Mostly, time to be courageous,

and finally become

the son,

He saved me

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to be...


Friday, May 4, 2012

"Just Ride, Daddy"

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I mowed the grass for the first time this year.

My father-in-law had mowed for me while I recuperated from my recent hip problems.  Both of the little girls heard the clamoring of the mower and bounded out of the house, down the deck to the patio and stared.

I knew what they wanted.

I remembered my own children's fascination with the mower- something that apparently loses its once brilliant luster as they grow up.  Their unexpected interest immediately ushered in a wave of nostalgia from several years earlier with my kids.

I really miss those days.

They would take turns sitting on my lap and steering the monster while their mother looked on.  Looking on as only a mother can- wringing her hands over some some unexpected cyclone or unforeseen obstacle that might upset their precarious balance, and at which point, they would topple to the ground and be injured, or worse yet-run over by the machine.

Somehow we survived.

So now, here these two little ones, who came into our life less than a year earlier, stood desperate to get a turn.  I could see them, but the noise and distance made hearing them impossible and they knew it.  I cut the blades off and headed in their direction.

"What are you doing, girls?

"We want to ride, Daddy," said the younger.

"Well jump on, but you have to take turns."

The older stepped forward first.  I was relieved when no fight developed over the mowing order.

We rode for a while narrowly avoiding the metal overhang of the chicken coop, but not so fortunate with a large rock on the edge of last year's garden.  The shredding/launching of a well-disguised golf ball shocked her even more, and sparked a screaming plea for a quick return to the safety of the patio.

I obliged and retrieved the other girl.  Fortunately for the little one, all the other potential obstacles were past.  We had clear sailing.  She rode for about thirty minutes before we finally finished the yard.  Suddenly, she began to cry when I cut the engine off.

"What's wrong," I asked?

"I just want to ride, Daddy"

"We're finished, there's no more to mow."

At once, I had the urge to crank the thing up and ride around some more, but we had places to go, appointments to keep.

Her sniffling slowly subsided as we walked back up to the house from the barn, but she made sure to ask if she could mow again.  I assured her she would be first in line next time.

The grass grows quick this time of year.

I began wondering what she liked so much about it.  We both sweated.  The engine roared, offending our eardrums.  The not so pleasant smells of gas and grass filled our noses. We bounced around on a hard seat.

I actually remember wishing at one point she were old enough to do it by herself.

But, maybe she just wanted to feel the warm sunshine against her skin, the cooling wind in her hair.  Maybe, she just wanted to feel normal for once, to be distracted from the conflicts of the present, to preoccupy her thoughts with something less anxious. Maybe she just wanted to think about the tranquility of the right here and right now.  Maybe she just wanted a brief reprieve from the burden of tomorrow's worries.

Maybe she just wanted some attention-to be inextricably linked to something, to someone...

And perhaps,

for just a single moment in time,

all she wanted was to hop on,

sit down,

lean back,

and

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ride....