I have a very close friend who is a religious sister. Ever since she entered the convent a few years ago, I have not been able to call or email her. Our friendship has been sustained through a very small amount of visits and LOTS and LOTS of letters!
I wrote her a letter tonight, complete with illustration. Rich and I had such a laugh over the text and drawing that he commended both to the blog. It occurs to me now that perhaps they will seem funny only to us. Ah well, a risk taken by geeks throughout history.
I had written to tell Sr. Grace Dominic (formerly Henrietta) that after 9 months of indecision, Richard and I had definitely agreed that we will plan to be in New Zealand for 2 years, rather than 3, or possibly more. [It's relevant to note that Sr. Grace Dominic is also very close friends with Fr. Michael (we all met in grad school)]. I wrote:
"I have good news that I think I can best explain through an analogy. I signed up to run a race. I'm not a runner and have never really run a race, nor did I ever specifically dream of running, but I was invited to run a 2 mile race and I accepted. The race is this mission in New Zealand. I felt really excited for this race and spent months attempting to train (having really no idea what the race course was like) and then finally the race was upon me. And as soon as I began to run it I realized that running a race is hard! It was much harder than I expected. The sun felt hot, my throat felt parched, my legs seemed weak. I recognized I was not as fit as I had thought. But I wanted to run and run well. So I was just taking in these things and deciding how to pace myself accordingly when my teammate (Richie) turned to me happily and said,
"Hey, do you think maybe Coach meant that we should run a third mile!? Hey...do you think He might want us to run even more than that?!?!"
I immediately responded, "No! Coach (God) never said that to me! I didn't hear Coach say that! Coach specifically said we were to run for two miles! That's exactly what He said. TWO miles."
My teammate looked at me with a bit of pity and reproached me gently for not obeying Coach.
The waterboy (Fr. Michael) overheard the conversation and joyfully began teasing me about the third mile. He thought a third mile was a fantastic idea! He and my teammate were having a blast in this race - throwing a frisbee back and forth, tossing a ball around, giving each other high-fives frequently....here's a photo:"
I went on to write to Sr. Grace Dominic that knowing now where the finish line is has made it much easier to run freely and joyfully. It's been a source of renewed energy and stamina, a reminder to deeply enjoy this exhilarating race. I can push through the inevitable burning muscles and the sun's heat - and I can also now take in the birds and the breezes and the beauty of the course....and the very entertaining antics of the waterboy. It's just a simple race again, not a potential marathon. And in time, as we draw near to the finish line, I will be looking and listening for Coach. Perhaps He will gently ask me, "Can you run a third mile? Would you try?" Perhaps He will. And perhaps He won't. He won't ask if it's impossible. He won't ask unless it's a great good. He won't demand. We'll be free to choose. That's Coach. Isn't He beautiful!