Sunday, February 23, 2014

THE GIFT

When I arose yesterday, I checked my email, then logged on to Facebook. The first thing that came up was a post from fellow runner and friend, Father Christopher Zelonis. Father Zelonis, a 3:30 marathoner, has a unique ability to post insightful, spiritual, thought-provoking words and stories. Yesterday, he printed the words of a Jesuit priest, Father Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, who recently passed away, at the much too young age of 74, from cancer.

"I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But whatever it is, I'm looking forward to it."

As I prepared to attend the funeral of a friend who, earlier in the week, died suddenly from a massive heart attack, I savored the words of Father Harrington, and, in my mind, thanked Father Zelonis for sharing them.

The words, however, turned out to be sadly prophetic, as I drove the short distance down the street to the church where the funeral was to be held. My phone rang, the message smashed me like a Mike Tyson right hook.

On Friday evening, a dear friend of 25 years, decided to end his life at the age of 49. He leaves a wife and two daughters.

There is no rational reason, no explanation why, one of the most outgoing, entertaining human beings I have ever met, would choose such a fate.

Today, as I attempt to make sense of the senseless, the snow piles outside my window don't seem to be as high, my hamstring doesn't hurt as badly, the bitter cold weather predicted for the coming week isn't as imposing.

I kissed my wife and told her I loved her. I spoke to my three children. They are doing well with their lives and careers. I threw snowballs in the air for Dixie, my Labrador Retriever, to catch.

A neighbor once told me a story about his 93-year old uncle who visited the doctor, only to be told he needed to have a heart procedure done. At his age, he may not survive the procedure, but if he did, he would probably live another few years. He elected to go forward with the surgery. In his words, "I agreed to have it done because I figured death is too permanent." He lived to age 97.

God has given us a great gift. We truly are blessed with the temple he has provided us with. Whatever tomorrow may bring, whether it is good or bad, we SHOULD look forward to it, simply because we have it to look forward to. As runners, we fine tune our temples on a daily basis, but sometimes we can be bipolar.
A bad workout, race, or debilitating injury often plunges us into deep despair. That's why we must redefine our goals.

At last year's Boston Marathon, I crossed the finish line in a time of 3:04. At age 59, I could see one more sub-3 hour marathon on the horizon. Three weeks later, I tripped during a routine training run, tearing two hamstring tendons. Today, I can barely cover 5 miles at a 9-minute mile pace. I have been forced to seriously redefine my goals, and I will.

Because we have life we have hope.

Life is the greatest gift.

Appreciate every day of it.