We just spent three days skiing in Santa Fe: Cyndi and me, our daughter Katie, granddaughters Madden and Landry, Tanya and Kevin. It was a good trip. The snow was fine for spring skiing in New Mexico, and we skied lots of fun trails.
One question that came up often during the three days was: How do your new knees feel? In fact I never thought about them until I heard the question. My knees were amazing. They did everything I asked of them without complaint. My 17-year layoff from skiing was a hindrance, but not my knees.
I am not an athlete. My only native athletic skill is perseverance, which might be better described as stubbornness. In all my sporting pursuits – running, backpacking and hiking, cycling, skiing – I am at the intermediate level at best. Through the years I have learned enough basic techniques so that I can perform at a level that keeps me happy, but I have none of the natural athleticism needed to excel. I’m not complaining; I’m analyzing.
Skiing used to be a bigger part of our life. Cyndi and I skied together before we were married (the photo is from March 1979, about four months before our wedding, 38 Spring Breaks ago), and we started skiing with our kids when they were very young. For years we volunteered as sponsors for our church youth trips because it was the cheapest way for the entire family to ski.
But after both of our children graduated from high school, we stopped skiing. We didn’t intend to stop, it just faded away out of view. Until, that is, we realized we had a new generation in the family. It’s remarkable how life is energized by grandchildren.
We love repeating family traditions and telling family stories, and we hope to pass those down. We even have specific skiing traditions. For example, we eat meatloaf sandwiches for lunch on ski trips. We never eat them any other time. I don’t know why.
And Cyndi and I sing to each other on the lift and on the trail. Our songs tend to be scripture songs we learned back in the 1970s, and one of our favorites was based on Psalm 3:103 and written by a college friend named Cathy Browning. We sing that song even though we haven’t heard anyone else sing it since 1979. On the trail, I like to sing the Delaney and Bonnie song, “I’ve Got A Never-Ending Love For You,” whenever Cyndi is within earshot, which isn’t often since she usually skies far ahead of me.
But remembering old stories and traditions is not enough. We don’t want to be those people who live life grabbing for the past. We also want new stories, new traditions, new adventures, with new generations.
Penelope Lively wrote this about gardening: “The miraculous power of gardening: it evokes tomorrow, it is eternally forward-looking, it invites plans and ambitions, creativity, expectation.” (Dancing Fish and Ammonites)
Her description of gardening is exactly how I want to live life: with forward-looking adventures, ambitions, creativity, and expectations.
During one of our lunch breaks I noticed three couples sitting a table near ours; all six were older than Cyndi and me. They appeared to have lots of skiing miles in their legs and they smiled and joked with each other the entire time. I thought, that is who I want us to be. I hope we have dozens of spring breaks ahead of us, and new stories and traditions to gather up.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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