I ran a race on Saturday. And when I run a race, play in a soccer game, pickup basketball or file a story, I always have a “person,” somebody whom I am trying to utterly banish from the playing field. They usually reveal themselves to me by aggravating me (stealing the ball or passing me at a particularly vulnerable time). I hate that.
I am a competitive creature (but I have nothing on my two sisters. Good grief, they’re bad.)
Saturday morning my person was a statuesque woman who bore a shocking resemblance to one of the Williams sisters. She was trotting along effortlessly about a block ahead of me for most of the race.
I caught her at the halfway point but she pulled away again. I caught her again at the 2 mile mark and she ran pace for pace with me till there was about 1/2 a mile left and then I managed to shake her for good. I have no idea who she was or where she finished. All I know, all I cared about, was that she was behind me.
Sometimes I beat my “person.” Sometimes I don’t. At a race in June, my person was an un-athletic looking woman somewhat older who managed to wipe the course with me in such an aggravating slow and steady way. She was awesome.
On Sunday, Bishop Melchisedek preached about the Christian life as the ascetic life, one of exercise. He talked about how in order to win you have to train. It’s an analogy that made more sense to me when I became Orthodox because we have actual exercises we do as a part of our faith: we confess, we pray the prayers, we study the lives of the saints, we give to the poor, etc.
I don’t know if I have a “person” to compete against in the Church. That’s probably a good thing. I have myself. I have the things that weigh me down, the things that hang at my feet and grab at my ankles every time I seem to make progress.
I haven’t been real good at the ascetic life lately. I neglect my prayers and my reading. (it’s easier to get sucked into the TV) It’s easier to be angry than to curb my tongue. It’s so much more comfortable to gossip than to be quiet. But there’s so much more at stake in this life — the fate of my eternal soul, and whatnot. You’d think I’d be better at giving it the attention it deserves. Lazy, I guess.