Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Heaven is . . .

Heaven is a gym, at least it was a little piece of the gym this morning. Characteristically, heaven had nothing to do with anything that I did or left undone. I just completed an effective but unremarkable swim workout. Heaven was occuring three lanes over, and if I had been my usual hedgehog self, I would have missed it.

In the far lane of the pool, two members were aquacizing. They were yucking it up, ribbing each other, encouraging each other, telling stories, and having a grand time--at 0530 in the morning no less. What's so heavenly about that? Look closer at the people.

She was probably around 60, caucasian and not fit. He was probably around 40, fit, huge rippling muscles and African American. In another place or time, she or someone from her generation might have called him "colored" . . . or worse. They certainly would not have been in the same pool together. Absent the gym and their acquaintance with each other, she might have crossed to the other side of the street out of fear as he approached. Heck I might have. This guy was a seriously big dude and I can be a seriously flawed man.

But here, in the gym, in 2006, they were answering the ancient question, "who is my neighbor." Their answer was spot on and gave a little view of heaven, here and now.

The solitude of training is one of its attractions. Solitude, however, is not the same as absence. Don't forget to lift your eyes from the heart monitor or the clock. You never know what you might see, even heaven sometimes.

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