Since that post in August I have gleaned some personal advice from Joe, and even got to run with him and one of his "cast of characters" on Black Friday! Most of my visits home are not very long and do not include running, so that day was and will remain a memorable occasion, laced with good humor and conversation. I hope we will be able to reprise it before long.
Joe's fondness for writing and running promise to converge later this year in a second tome called "Personal Best." In one chapter he will chronicle three individuals whose dedication to the sport favorably ties into other aspects of their lives. One of them is Elizabeth Withey, who overcame the opprobrium of an abusive marriage through running. In the interest of inspiring like successes in others, Withey has founded Marathons Against Domestic Violence. I understand that she intends to run marathons in every state in the nation and continent in the world. More power to her--and to anyone who dares to make life changes, despite the dissuading attempts of others (or the false self)!
I was humbled to learn that Joe also wanted to include my story as well. While I didn't get into running in order to motivate anyone else, I know that everything we do in life can influence others, for good or ill. In that regard, Ms. Withey shared with me a Scripture quote that is relevant to her efforts and mine:
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. (Heb 6:10-12)Joe's forthcoming book reminded me of another inspiring individual whom I've come to know in the past year. Angeline Piskorski recently started her own blog, The Encouraged Runner. Running has become an integral part of her recovery from brain injury. In three years Angie has come to know the transformative joys of putting one foot in front of the other.
It is easy for an individual in a parish of 2,000 families to be "just another parishioner." But then God provides, and I take, the opportunity to converse and learn. Over the past six years I have accepted those calls and have become a better, more human priest for doing so. A few minutes into my first conversation with Angie, I learned of her interest in running--I learned we'd be running the Via Marathon in a couple of weeks! Soon enough, the news of a shared sport would be the springboard to her faith journey. It pays to listen!
This online world has helped to connect me with people, ideas, and resources. To think it can even be used to spread the Gospel! Let's say it spreads the Gospel of Life. Everyone's story can become a source of enrichment and empowerment. And why not: If God made you, you're worth knowing about!