A tale of two races. Actual and Spiritual.
The short form, for those who can only stand tweets, I finished my 47th marathon in 5h15 min (chip) and got 2nd place Master Female.
And I spent 2 nights visiting the convent where I lived for 4 years.
First picture is at the finish line with the very nice plaque for second place.
Earlier this year, I thought I would finish 50 marathons by September of this year; so I could celebrate at a marathon where some friends were. But due to one DNF and one cancelled race, that won't happen. I picked the Maryville marathon to be one of the 50 because I had run the race 3 previous times when I lived in Missouri, and it is too hot in Texas now to do a marathon race. Maryville is also near the convent so I could swing by for a visit.
Maryville is one of my BQ courses so I remembered it as being fast. That was in 2009. Now, 2015, I am slow, the hills seemed much higher than I remember; and worst of all, there were only 40 people in the marathon. So the second lap was very lonely.
It is a 2 lap race. The steepest of the hills are around miles 2-3. This part of the course also had very crummy pavement and extremely crummy shoulder, with no cones or traffic control. Nada. On the second lap, I hated this part. It also goes north, but the breeze was south, so sweat drips down your face.
The back side of the course goes south with a nice breeze in the face, and the shoulder was newly paved and there were cones along it. The hills are not steep but there is one long 2 mile uphill grade which falls at mile 20-22 on lap 2. It was killer at that point.
During the 25th mile, I could see one runner in front of me but too far ahead to catch. It turns out, that was the first place Master Female who was ahead by less than 2 minutes. Behind me I couldn't see anyone, but it turns out 3rd place Master Female was less than 2 minutes behind me.
Then I jumped in the car and drove back to the convent.
The convent, the convent. That thing in my life which is like a worrisome tooth which your tongue cannot leave alone.
I have had at least 3 BIG, life changing spiritual events in my life. The first was when I went to Israel when I was 22. This was my "Call to God" moment. Prior to that, I wasn't interested in religion and knew nothing about it. But post Israel, I was intensely interested and have been ever since.
The second big event was entry in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was spiritual because the 12 Step spirituality/ Conscious Contact spirituality was and is tremendously helpful in giving me spiritual tools and ongoing inspiration. It is safe to say I'd have no spirituality without being sober, but AA is so much more than that. I've been steeped in AA for almost 30 years.
The third event was my decision to join a contemplative religious order. I could write a book on this experience. Right at this moment, however, I want to focus on one aspect: Why Spirit?
It is easy to identify the purpose of answering a spiritual call and the purpose of getting sober. But what actually was the purpose of being a monk for 4 years? It wrought changes in my life, but I can't say I got ahead spiritually. It was life changing, but exactly what does it mean? This all may seem obvious if I could detail out all of my spiritual life. But mostly, my heart pines for the fact that I don't live there. I can't let it go.
This weekend was about the 3rd visit in the past 11 years. It is the first time I stayed overnight and had time to just be around. I had time for a couple of in depth conversations and ask questions I've not dared to ask. I hope I planted seeds for future relational growth.
I don't think I want to live at the convent now; but I do think a viable connection needs to exist. In terms of existential energy and financial investment, my time served with the Clyde sisters is huge (more than $500,000 in lost wages). I purchased something. Invested in something. It is just that "Something" is not quite identified yet. Or perhaps, the real truth of the experience is non-physical.
I will continue to ponder this weekend, another spiritual jewel to hold in my hand.
I got home late last night. Nothing was injured by the marathon, but I am taking it a bit easy today. The bread machine is in operation. I got groceries. I mowed and trimmed the lawn. Now I might need a nap.