Last week, I was in a meeting of ecumenical faith leaders here in our city. It was the first Zoom gathering and like a lot of other meetings these days, more people were present than usual.
This would be the last official meeting for one of our colleagues who is retiring and relocating to Texas next month. I had only met him a few times but was impressed by the long and genuine list of accolades showered upon him: faithful friend, an inspiration, role model, a person who stood up for issues that mattered, and a long distance runner. That last description got my attention over all the others and I thought to myself, “What an interesting thing for someone to say about you.”
Living a life of faith is kind of like being a long-distance runner. We enter the race at some point for any number of reasons, whether we are conscious of it or not. To live as Jesus taught requires practice, practice, practice, determination, will, tenacity, courage, and strength. It takes patience, endurance, change of habits, change of heart, change of routines, etc., etc.
Sometimes the “run” might seem more like a walk or fast trot. We may be broken, tired, and weary. There are often gains and losses, spurts of restlessness and fatigue, questions and doubts, baby steps forward, and long strides backward, or so it seems. But the most important thing is to get started and stay the course until we cross the finish line. And if we are truly blessed, we will have a few cheerleaders along the way who cheer us on, tend our wounds, and celebrate even the smallest victories.
I have been thinking about it, and what seems important in the moment is that it would be good if, in the end, someone can honestly say of us: we kept moving. We stayed the course. We never got so ensnared by the challenges of life that we sat down and did nothing. We were courageous when it mattered most. We were long-distance runners.
Grace and peace,