Monday, September 23, 2013

Life lessons well-learned (while running long distance)

My eighth grader is thrilled. I can see it shining in his eyes from 50 yards as he rounds the bend toward the finish line.

I see he has 15 seconds to meet his goal time this week from the digital time-keeper at the finish line and can't help jumping up and down. "GO NIC! RUN IT IN!"

He's grinning, he's gasping, but he digs in deep and sprints for the finish line--and makes it over just one second shy of his goal for this week.  He falls into my arms gasping, grinning and immensely pleased with himself.

After all, he just ran 4K on one of the toughest cross country courses in the country. He know this, and this pleases him, also.

He will not win any speed records, mind you. He stands to come in last for every race. "And doesn't that bother him?" people whisper to me. "Doesn't that bother you?"

No. And no.

Because for us, it was never about winning. For us, it's about finding out what we can do,

And Nic is tickled pink about being able to run a 4K. And he's motivated to run it faster every week.

When he toed the starting line last week, he admitted to being nervous. "I don't know if I can do this," he said in a moment of candor. Despite that, when the starter pistol went off, so did he with the rest of runners.

And he ran it in his first race, too, his eyes bright with pride. Because he proved to himself that he could finish. And every week, he will compete against himself and challenge himself to do better than he did the week before.

Isn't that what life is all about?  Constantly improving our personal best?

It's never about us versus anyone else--but I think we forget that in the bustle of living.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Down Another Rabbit Hole

I had another meeting last night; I need to learn how to say no. It matters not how I got there, only that I'm there, waiting for the meeting to start.  As I stand in line for dinner, I see some familiar faces and exchange pleasantries and small talk.

I remark on the heat, and one mom says “I know and tomorrow will be hotter, I feel bad for my son running cross country…..”

This gives me pause. I am coaching a team, a team that consists only of my two kids. Then I freeze, realizing that she’s talking about another school’s team. I  blurt out “Really? We have a cross country team here at (our parish).”

“Well, you have to start somewhere!” she said breezily, and moved on.  Leaving me to wonder, start where?  What’s she talking about? I have a team, but my team isn’t good enough for her?  In any case, it feels like a slap in the face. And gets me to wondering, what else have I kept other people from engaging in, simply because my name is attached? Should I quit?  Drop out of teaching because people don’t want me teaching their kids? Drop out of other things because I don’t know what I’m doing?

It’s a rabbit hole, and I’m deep into it quickly.

She’s sitting at the table and trying to catch my eye. I’m looking past her  because I am trying not to cry. The demons don’t waste time when you’re down. I stare into my lap, and will myself to sit tight. The door is behind me, and escape would be easy……

Too easy.   In turn, hurt, anger, wounded pride have their way with me. And I sit. Face cast down. Knowing everything can be seen and willing myself to be still.

In the end, she makes eye contact and beams at me. I have no idea what it—or she—means by it.

So my meditation for the day is :

 How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth? (Exodus 33:16)

I need to pray on this question. And listen well for the answer.