This weekend, I sat in a rocking chair on my front porch. With coffee in hand, I had a front-row seat for a 5K Fun Run going through our neighborhood of new-old homes. Though I often walk the trails for exercise, when it comes to running, I’m more of a porch-sitter.
There was a light mist as I began to take note of the participants passing by. The most well-fit runners, both older teens and young adults, were leading the pack. But there were lots of families, too. Some even had elementary-aged children and babies in strollers. I watched and waved, wishing them well.
I was about to go inside when I realized there was one more runner on the course. Actually, he was a walker. I would have guessed him to be in his early 80’s with arthritic knees and a 100-watt smile that flashed when I offered a good morning.
The pack of runners had made its way past my home, through the winding nature trails and back to the street where they now were running in the opposite direction of the older man.
I was struck by the words of encouragement a few of them gave to the man as they passed him in front of my home. I could hear one saying, “Good race!” “You’re getting there, friend,” said another.
As the rain began to fall harder, the older man’s clothes were getting soaked. His pace slowed even more as he carefully watched his footing on the wet pavement. It seemed he had plenty of reasons to quit the race, but he kept on moving.
By now, the other runners had been out of sight for a good while. I continued to watch for the older man to complete the nature trail and make it back to the street in front of my home. I waited. I rocked. I got a second cup of coffee. Finally, I saw him in the distance.
I could hardly wait for him to reach shouting distance. “You are doing great!” I said before adding, “A great inspiration!”
I could see that smile stretch across his face again.
“Me?” he said.
Oh yes! This man and countless other older adults who refuse to give up on life when it gets hard.
It got me to thinking about the many older adults who desperately need someone to encourage them on the last leg of life’s journey. If we truly want to be the hands and feet of Christ, we’ve got to start by getting up from our comfortable rocking chairs and walking alongside another.