In his latest “From the Chapel” post, OSV publisher Scott Richert writes: “Life, we have…
From the Chapel — May 2: A journey of a thousand kilometers
“From the Chapel” is a series of short, daily reflections on life and faith in a time of uncertainty. As people across the world cope with the effects of the coronavirus — including the social isolation necessary to combat its spread — these reflections remind us of the hope that lies at the heart of the Gospel.
Virtual races have been around for a while, but they have become especially popular now that real races are suspended until the world opens up again. I signed up for one late Thursday night when I was too tired to think through what I was doing, and after a very poor night’s sleep, I ran it on Friday.
Or rather, I started running it on Friday. And continued today. And will do so tomorrow. And for the 120 days after that.
The event is called the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. It’s 1,000 kilometers — the distance from the southwest corner of Tennessee to the far northeast one. Each participant runs as much or as little as he or she can each day from May 1 until August 31, and records his mileage online. Every entrant gets a race shirt, and all of those who rack up at least 1,000 kilometers by Aug. 31 will receive a race medal. That’s an average of about five miles per day — peanuts back when I was logging 70 to 90 miles a week (and occasionally more) while training for marathons, but a reasonable challenge for me now, after a few years of injuries and minor health problems.
In my first two days, I’ve logged 12.2 miles total. I’m trying to bank a little each day in case I get sick or the Indiana weather keeps me inside — and, of course, for when we go back to working in the office, and the flexibility that we’ve enjoyed over the last seven weeks or so is gone.
After some time away from races, it feels good to have a goal to work toward again — even if it’s virtual. I’ve never enjoyed exercise for the sake of exercise; that’s always seemed self-centered in a way that training for a race never is. As I’ve discussed recently, man, by his very nature, is oriented toward an end. Some of those ends are ephemeral, though they can partake of the eternal, that final end which is also our beginning.
St. Paul, I’ve long suspected, must have been a runner, because he uses the imagery of running throughout his epistles as a metaphor for the spiritual life. “[F]orgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).
Having an end in sight — no matter how far away it may seem — gives purpose to our activity. The means become meaningful. Every step I take over this journey of a thousand kilometers draws me closer to my goal, just as every prayer I offer in sync with the rhythm of my breath and my footsteps and my heartbeat on each run helps me keep my ultimate end in sight.
Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.