December 17, 2014

Ageless and Evergreen

At the gym where Cheri and I go to ward off the effects of age and food/drink indulgence there is a pretty steady group of usual suspects working out from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.  We run the gamut in age from early 20's on up, and there are a surprising number of older folks who work out on a regular basis.  John is one of the regulars who is quite a bit older than me.  The other day John and I were sitting at weight machines a few feet away from each other, resting between reps, and John said "I think I'm getting too old for this, George."  I didn't know how old John was, so I said "If you don't mind my asking, how old are you, John?  "I'm 95," he said.

I was stunned.  Here's a 95 year old guy who shows up at 6 a.m., rides a stationary bike, rows a rowing machine for a while, then does some resistance and weight work on his upper body. John's got me by 40 years! I often find excuses to not go work out, and sometimes after a good workout I wonder how many more years I can keep this up.  Am I good for another 40 years?  I am skeptical about that.  In fact, I doubt it very much.

We've had some good storms here in California the past couple of weeks, with much-needed rain and some serious wind.  Well, serious for the San Joaquin Valley of central California. So finally, a week before Christmas, the leaves are mostly off the trees.  But I can't figure out why, with all the trees denuded, there are still a few green leaves on the Japanese Maple tree in my back yard.  Are these some kind of mutant leaves, impervious to the effects of cold and wind?  Are they, like John, simply destined to live longer than most of their now-fallen generation?  Or maybe the Japanese Maple is morphing into an evergreen?

Another thing I wonder about is this:  Why are some plants in my yard fading into a long winter's nap, and others, like this Christmas Cactus, are just now waking and coming into the fullness of their bloom?  It is a little bit like the ebb and flow of faith among the myriad people I know.  Faith in some is dying, or at least going dormant, and in others it is coming into full bloom.  If ever there is a time for faith to bloom it is during the Christmas season.

At the invitation of another gym friend, Trish, Cheri attended the annual Christmas benefit lunch for the local Salvation Army.  Who should be there getting an award for years of service to the local Salvation Army but John?  95 year old John, whose faith and belief in giving some of our many blessings back to others in need are seemingly evergreen.

Speaking of evergreen, we have three Christmas trees this year.  One in the living room, one on the front porch, and this Fisherman's Tree in my office.  I am annually delighted by these little fishing ornaments which have been given to me over the years by many family and friends.  This Fisherman's Tree, in its many forms over the years, has helped keep my Christmas spirit in full bloom.  

Traditionally the use of evergreen trees at Christmas time has been a symbol of our hope of everlasting life with God.  Here's hoping that you have the good health and giving spirit of John, and that your faith also may be, or become, ageless and evergreen.