I don’t know about you, but I feel like someone took an egg beater to my brain and made just enough quick strokes to initiate a scramble of my thoughts and the synapses that keep my mind organized.
Actually, I do know about you.
I have heard from enough of you to know that many of us are experiencing this same thing. Repeatedly I hear, “A good day is one in which I survived.” I know what you mean. I have very few far off goals. My goal is to do what is most faithful for today, be aware of my limits, get outside daily, love those closest to me and hope that is just going to be good enough.
On Mondays, I write a letter, titled, The Weekly Word, to all of the active pastors and Clerks of Session of the Presbytery of the Cascades. As I concluded my thoughts this past week I wrote, “…only do what your body and soul will allow. What doesn’t get done may be what needs to be let go.”
It felt so strange to write that and yet so right. It was strange in that I have lived much of my life focused on far off dreams and long term ambitious goals. I have organized my daily life based on what I wanted to accomplish in the future. I have often pushed myself to my limits in the present moment in order to realize a future moment. This is why my comment felt strange for me.
Yet, at the same time, it seemed absolutely right. I have cycled most of my life and one of the things those of us who are endurance athletes learn is that one can push the body for great, extended periods of time as long as we don’t allow ourselves to go into oxygen deprivation. Endurance athletes know how to stay right at the edge of their aerobic (with oxygen) capacity without crossing over into one’s anaerobic (without oxygen) reserves.
The difference is this. A marathoner remains in aerobic capacity for an entire race with maybe the exception of the last few yards if they are working to out sprint a competitor. A 100-meter sprinter almost exclusively depends on their anaerobic reserves—no oxygen needed for that distance.
“Only do what your body and soul will allow,” I wrote.
Marathoners know that if they exceed their aerobic capacity that it could be minutes before their body recovers as they slow their pace to a jog or a near walk. Marathoners know that they are in for the long haul and the most important thing they can do is run within the limits of their oxygen capacity. Even if a competitor is passing them, they know that exceeding their aerobic capacity will mean a certain crash and burn. It could mean the difference between winning a race and finishing in 100th place.
It was strange for me to write, “What doesn’t get done may be what needs to be let go.” I am used to setting a vision and having that vision dictate what I do and how hard I work. I am not used to saying or even comfortable saying that vision is going emerge out of what we cannot do. I am not used to admitting that my limits will actually have more impact on our future vision than my over-sized ambition.
This is a strange new world. But it feels true and feels right. We cannot control the future. We can only control what we do today and how much we do today. We can only do what our body and our souls will allow. Anything more will put us into spiritual deprivation.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Damn. I never thought those words would ring so true.
Maybe it’s time to take this faith thing seriously!
By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades