Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Steep Thoughts

This is something I didn’t need to see.

After I finally decided to run the San Francisco Marathon — despite fears that my knees aren’t ready for that city’s infamous hills — a friend just had to tell me about a recent Wall Street Journal article ominously titled The Race Even Marathoners Fear.

Oh boy.

Quoth author Kevin Helliker:
Every year, marathons in New York and Chicago draw some 40,000 participants each.

But not the San Francisco Marathon. The race, which takes place July 25, attracted fewer than 7,000 runners last year, and open slots for the upcoming event remain plentiful. The reason: San Francisco’s famous hills, which draw tourists from around the world, are a bear for runners to traverse. “To put it tactfully, this course is not for the casual runner,” says Jenny Schmitt, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Marathon.
Just reading that puts a knot in my stomach. But that’s a good thing.

As I’ve written before (see here, here, here, and here), part of what I love about long-distance running is it makes very tangible to me how utterly dependent I am on God. There’s nothing like a daunting challenge to confirm that, on my own, I can do nothing, and conversely, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

And just as all suffering, no matter how minor, can draw us closer to Christ in His Passion, so too can fear and anxiety bring us closer to Him in his agony in the garden.

So, I’m going into this marathon with confidence — confident that God will give me what I need to get through it, unless His will is greater served in some other way.

Meanwhile, I’ve started up a novena for the prayers of the patron saint of San Francisco, the great St. Francis of Assisi, which just so happens to include one of my favorite prayers:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith ;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy

O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.
Dear Lord bless, us with peace! St. Francis, pray for us!

(Photo credit: hao$ / flickr)

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