Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shalom

I woke up Saturday morning feeling no need, no desire to swim. Heck, I didn't even feel the need to get out of bed until around 8:00 am. Pretty late for me. It's not that I was tired of swimming, just that I had had enough. My body had had enough and my mind/psyche/emotions were filled to the brim. Like the Psalmist, "My cup runneth over."

That doesn't happen very often. Just a week ago I was crying the blues over pool closings, school meetings, and unforeseen calamities that kept knocking out needed training sessions. I can't complain now, not this week. Delightful is how I would describe it. Satisfying. Stress relieving.

Swimming does that for me, puts me into a state of happiness, wholeness, well-being. Shalom is what the Bible calls it, that state where all is well with self, with the world, and with God. Running used to get me there and sometimes it still does. The Great Noxapater Journey Run left me like that. "What's next?" people asked over and over after I finally successfully completed my epic run. "Rest," was all I ever answered. And I meant it.

I am struggling with how running fits into my life now. It seems to be becoming more of a contest with running itself and my body. Attempting to fight the slowing affects of age, my whole running program is currently an impossible campaign to turn back the hands of time, or at least put the brakes on the ageing process. I enjoy about one out of every five runs. Enjoyment used to be the main motivation.

Don't get me wrong. I still have some fun running. Look at my Facebook albums from this past fall and early winter. All those Buddy Bones runs were about having a good time, exploring this little area of the world God has placed me in, and testing my limits without being compared to anyone else. But the tension between that and racing is a constant. Sometimes I think I should just give up racing and run only for fun. I'll work it out.

My dad did that. He quit racing like a smoker stops smoking: cold turkey, all at once, never to be repeated. And he was much better runner than I ever was, could be, or will be. When he was 55 years old, he ran a 38:53 10K. He ran until he was 81 and stopped then only because arthritis in his right foot was too painful to continue. He took up walking and going to the gym, and he walked the day he died and he literally passed away with his running shoes on. I'll probably go the same way.   

I was really slow at realizing my dad's struggle with ageing. I guess truth be told, I am in the early stages of that struggle myself. Running has changed and continues to change. But I have swimming, a sport I am still improving in, experiencing new adventures, having new dreams. What happens when the water becomes a struggle? I don't have an answer for that. Maybe I can't have an answer for that. Some bridges, maybe all of them, can't be crossed until you get there. 

The Bible refers to itself as a lamp. A lamp differs from a light in that it gives the ability to see for only a few feet at a time. Walking, living, when you can only see a few feet at a time is not easy but it is how God designed things for us. The Bible has a term for the also. It's called living by faith. Living by faith is a lot better than living without it. And dying in faith is a lot better than dying out of it. I hope to go like that, in faith, with my running shoes on and a pair of swimming goggle nearby. I hope.