Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Long Haired Dude & Navy Seal

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers,

I hope all is well with you on this Hump day, the Wednesday before the Thursday before the Thursday that is Thanksgiving here in the United States. (That makes Thanksgiving sound like it is far off in the distance, sorry if that does anything to your turkey anticipations). As for me, I'm doing fine...I tried my best to clean my room this morning. At some point before the Holidays, I hope I find the ambition to donate some of the many books scattered all about my little 12 X 12 foot (roughly speaking) abode. Books, like music, are something I collect and collect to no end at times.


I opened my Runners World magazine to a few articles about people who are using running to do some pretty amazing things, and I'd like to share with you a little about these people. The first person I read about, David Goggins, is a 33 year old Navy Seal who runs 15 - 20 miles every morning before breakfast and bikes 50 miles a day in commute to his job. For starters, that's sick. But that's not even the half of Goggins story. The man runs races–––intense, body aching races–––for charity. In three years, he has raised $200,000 for a fund that grants full college tuition to children of whose Special Ops parents were killed while serving the country. His races include 150 milers, Ultramarathons (a 48 hour run!), and the death-defying race through the Death Valley (135 miles of running in that desert heat). Goggins says when he crosses the finish line, he is thinking about what he is going to do tomorrow. "It's as if my journey is everlasting and there is no finish line." What a way to ponder our existence here in this world. In some way, our journey is everlasting, never ending. To draw from my Christian tradition, after death, we hope for an eternal peace filled with love, in a word, heaven. Goggins passion for running, his commitment to it and to people is a great metaphor for anyone seeking to dedicate themselves to a cause or to a particular way of life. There is no finish line and the journey is everlasting.

The other person I read about isn't a Navy Seal. He's actually a long haired dude, a vegetarian running coach from New York city. After visiting Kenya in 1995, he was inspired to give his time and effort to contributing to some of the poverty he witnessed on the continent of Africa. At first, he started Shoe4Africa, because, during his first visit, he found himself giving running shoes away to the point of where he returned home barefoot.

The long haired dude, Toby Tanser, felt compelled to do something different for people in Kenya after witnessing the aftermath of the December 2007 elections that left many cities ravaged. He tells a story, in Runners World magazine, of a woman who told him that she witnessed her own baby burn to death, an innocent victim of the politically-induced violence of last year. A church in this same village, Kiambaa, had been burned down with 35 people inside of it. Hearing about these terrible tragedies understandably struck a deep chord in the soul of Tanser. "What the hell am i doing donating shoes?" he asked himself. He decided to do more, starting a "peace run."

Interestingly, I had just posted about a peace run I was a part of last Sunday here in Chicago. Tanser's peace run struck a deep chord inside my own soul, and that's why I felt compelled to write about this long haired dude.

His next hope is to build a $15 million children's hospital in a Kenyan town. It would be the largest of its kind on the continent of Africa. I pray that his vision becomes a success. Tanser, along with David Goggins the Navy Seal, are doing things with their talents that might inspire all of us to look at ourselves and ask what can we do to spread love, spread peace.

It reminds me of a parable Jesus talks about in the gospel of Luke. He tells of three servants who were each given a coin. The king told the servants to engage in trade with the coins. Of the three servants, two of them were able to turn a profit from the original coin. The first returns bearing 10 coins, the second bearing five. The king seems happy that both of the servants were able to do such with what had been given to them. However, the third servant took a different path. This servant, stored the coin away in fear of the king. The servant seems to be frightened that the one coin will be lost in trade. The king is angered, takes the coin from the servant, and gives it to the first servant who had turned his one coin into ten coins. "To everyone who has, more will be given," says the king. (taken from Luke 19 : 11-28).

Goggins and Tanser might be comparable in ways to these two servants. They are both taking different paths to provide more with what they have been given (the talent to run and the desire to help others). They have done a wonderful job of fostering and developing their gifts. But the third servant might be someone who is frightened to use some of the talents they have to help, in whatever way possible, the world around them. I am guilty of this. I'll be the first to admit that for fear of rejection, for fear of standing out on a limb, I often find myself caught between "I should and I'm scared to." Maybe, you sometimes find yourself playing this game of limbo too often. I hope that all of us, in small ways, will have the courage to step outside of our fears, to step outside of ourself, and to give back to a community, to a world that needs us. To work together will bring us together and will bring us to the task of working for peace on this everlasting journey.

peace friends.

with love,

your friend bob.

1 comment:

ML said...

This is a great theological reflection on the experience of being a runner and the readings for the Christ the King Sunday. Courage, freedom and being brave are the virtues that we need the most to be able to say – Christ lives in me. It is easy to say/write and it is hard to live it. Let’s pray for each other.