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I am training to run my first marathon at the age of 62 years old. Have I lost my mind? The training has given me an opportunity to have first-time experiences. For example, chafing. Chafing happens when sweaty clothes rub against the skin for a long period of time, causing first and second-degree burns including bleeding. When I take a shower it feels like someone is pouring acid over my body. Then there is the runner’s high. Due to long runs which can be painful and exhausting, the body compensates by releasing endorphins which numb the pain. Then there is the “wall.” The best way I can explain this is that sometime during a long run, the legs do not work anymore and the brain starts to play tricks on you: “You are about to die, so go home and eat pizza.” Not to mention all the aches and sourness that come from running. So you may ask “Why do this? Why persist in the torture?”
In addition to pain, there are also benefits. For the first time in years, I get eight hours of sleep every night. I can eat anything I want and not gain a pound. My heart rate is the same as a twenty-year-old. I am more focused and have more energy during the day. Most of all, I have gained a gentle heart. The best way to describe a gentle heart is this: no one gets hurt. In life, we absorb a lot of negativity inside our bodies such as traffic jams, delays, and long waits. Getting yelled at, not appreciated, taken advantage of, and thankless jobs. Running pushes all that negativity out of my system. As a result, I have a gentle heart. The reason I mention this is because, in the parable of the prodigal son, the father is hit from both sides with his two sons. They take his money, yell at him, and ignore him. They claim that he does not do anything right while not communicating with him. These are the worst nightmares of any father. Yet, with all that negativity, the father hurts no one. In fact, the father processes all that negativity and has an output of positivity. He gives the kids his inheritance and parties; he consoles and reassures them. He gives them everything a son dreams of having from his father. How does he do it? How does he take all that negativity and turns it into positives? I want to gain what he has–a gentle heart. You get the gentle heart that comes from sticking to the journey, running the course of life, and not quitting.
I am training for a marathon at 62 years old. My goal is not to cross the finish line. My goal is the journey. The training is where all the true benefits are found. Maybe our goals in life are too high. Maybe our goal in life should be the journey, not the finish line. Or perhaps our goal should not be the diploma on the wall but meeting the smartest people in our field and learning from them. For some, the goal may not be walking down the aisle on wedding day, but walking arm in arm down the street with the one whom you love. In life, we try to acquire rich skills, but the greatest skill is to work with a gentle heart. If you find it, no one around you will ever be hurt.Back to All Homilies