lifeguard chair

I live in Florida now. Indialantic, Florida…beachside as the locals call it. Almost one month ago exactly, Sr. Michelle, my new colleague flew to Ohio and helped me drive a U-Haul to my new apartment. I followed all the online guides to figure out which size U-Haul I would need, and still ended up with one that was too small by two sizes. Of course we didn’t know it was too small until we had it packed so tightly we could not have added so much as a Ping-Pong ball. Then, we looked at all the things that didn’t fit and knew.

And I also knew we weren’t unloading it to go get a bigger truck!

Lots of things didn’t get to Florida, the most important of which included my chairs. My beach chairs! My really NICE hardly-used beach chairs that the Johnsen’s gave me.

Still, I figured I could find new chairs in Florida.

After unloading the U-Haul, I flew back to Ohio and helped move my oldest son Adam from college into his new apartment in Dayton. His new apartment is on the second floor and for that move we had a truck that was too big for the job. Too big by at least two sizes. One of the items he moved was The Nest. The Nest is an oversized beige corduroy chair we got at a garage sale when I was pregnant with Adam. It was functional, but never attractive. Now, 24 years later it is even less so. I tried to pitch that chair several times, but Adam always rescued it.

In my apartment here now, I have one good chair: a burgundy recliner given to me by one of my new parishioners. She called it the Healing Chair because her brother had bought it for her 18 years ago when she was battling a serious illness that was baffling her doctors. She spent days into months in that chair enduring tests and tubes and trauma until finally, health claimed victory over her illness and the chair became a memory of a time she was ready to forget.

Last night, Chase and Ashley and I were walking on the beach that is just blocks from my new home. The waves were choppy and the wind was cool as we walked along through the remnants of our first Tropical Storm, Andrea. The sky in the West was red, and we watched lightning light up the horizon over the ocean. At regular intervals on the beach, there was a bright red lifeguard chair, empty.

I wanted to climb the stand and sit in the lifeguard chair, but I resisted out of respect for those who have the credentials to actually do that job. But looking at these high places where lifeguards keep watch reminded me of he significance of chairs. We rarely consider their value, and yet they are deeply meaningful tools in our pilgrimage here on earth. We have our own chairs at the table. We eat quietly at tables with empty chairs. We have chairs in which we rock our babies to sleep and those to which we retreat from life. Indeed, when we receive a call with life changing news, the caller often begins by asking, “are you sitting down?”

Tomorrow morning, I’m getting another chair. This one too is a gift from a parishioner who no longer needs it. It is a lovely light tan, leather recliner.

I’ve always wanted a leather recliner. How perfect that now, as I begin these years of living in this ocean paradise, that I would receive one as a gift. After months of planning for this move and saying painful goodbyes. Of weeding out my possessions and preparing to begin anew. Of packing and unpacking until I was too tired to sleep, I will have my own chair waiting for me at the end of every day.

A leather recliner inviting me to put up my feet and rest.