We’re not back in Baltimore yet. But we’re in Maryland—at my parents’—realizing that what we so gratefully left (house-wise) awaits our return, and I return in my mind to the past week … not ready yet, to face this one!
Two years ago, at Preaching Camp 2008, on a South Carolina lake, I tried to get up on one ski. Wasn’t happening. Not a chance. Felt uncomfortable … unnatural. I couldn’t even remember which foot I used to have forward. Neither position felt right.
So I got up on two and skiied around for a while, but never could relax—couldn’t get comfortable—never felt stable. And even though it had probably been some fifteen years since I waterskiied before that, what a let down! This, in spite of the cheerful encouragement and affirmations of our resident water ski expert preacher (neat the way expert can reflect back or look forward … you notice that?), Russ Dean (If I knew how to put pictures in this blog, I’d impress you at this point with a picture of Russ skiing!)—what a let down in spite of Russ’ encouragement and his and my great amusement at the other two preachers in the boat having had a wave dumped on them (mind you this was in October and they were wearing sweatshirts! … don’t I wish I had a picture!)—who had a wave dumped on them, courtesy of Russ’ driving, despite his protestations of innocence.
Well, this past week I got up on two skis early in the week, behind the boat with Russ’ two boys, Jackson and Bennett, Carolina lake boys the two of them (if I knew how to place pictures, I have one of the three Dean boys skiing in a pyramid formation!). I had not planned on skiing so there was but a bright orange floatation device in the boat (no way to call that thing a vest!), but in graceful solidarity Jackson and Bennett surrendered their vests and both donned like-colored floatation devices, and the three of us skiied Lake James in what can only be described as sartorial splendor!
Later, I got up on two by myself and found myself so much more comfortable than I ever remembered having been back in ’08—crossing the wake, shifting my weight—somewhat frustrated, in general (sometimes it’s a good feeling to be frustrated!)—somewhat frustrated at the more restricted mobility of two skis—wanting the greater freedom of a slalom ski.
So, on our last day, I got up on one ski. A simple declarative sentence that in no way reflects the group effort! Russ, Amy (Russ’ wife), Jackson and Bennett persistently cheering from the boat, my wife and girls from the dock, Russ patiently offering advice each time he looped around to pick me up again.
And it wasn’t uncomfortable (once I got up). I felt somewhat relaxed, fairly stable. And it was fun. I had told Russ I thought I would regret it if I didn’t try (mindful that I might regret having tried!), and now I continue to celebrate remembering the sense of pride and accomplishment (especially after the experience in 2008), the strong pull of the boat, the initial resistance and subsequent support of the water (there’s a lesson), all those lovely angles: the angle formed by the trajectory of the boat and the line of the ski rope, the angle from the surface of the water along the skier’s body, the angle of skier’s body and skier’s arms—a geometry of grace (more when any of the Dean clan ski than I, but nonetheless …!), the look of sun on water, the feel of sun and water on me, the feel of a gliding kind of speed, that wonderful fatigue after you’ve let go, sunk into the water and are trying to climb onto the dock.
Next year, I’ll hope to get up on one ski early in the week … maybe wearing a bright orange floatation device. I bet Jackson and Bennett would be up for it!