a runner’s fable: sabbath

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.  You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. – Exodus 20: 8-11

Two athletes set out, running shoes laced up, ready for the day’s challenge: one in magenta shorts, the other in simple gray.  Both had trained, but only one was truly prepared.  Each woke excited; her waking thought, “race day.”

The weather seemed to approve with no clouds and sunshine warm, not hot.

Pop! Marked the starting gun as both sprung into the pack and found her beat.  Gray and Magenta shorts sang like a scythe, swish, swish.  As the race wore on, the sun met trees from the left, and then from the right as shadows marked passing time.  Endurance cheered them on.  Shoes padded a steady pace, spurring up little pebbles with each step.  Magenta wound around curves, and kept on.  Gray found new energy where there had been none.  Both met running thrill and mental walls.  Both busted through, true runners those two.

The lead tottered back and forth, like a tennis match.  Each found her stride for a time, until it would skirt away to tag the other.  No fan could predict the winner.

Magenta met the line first, but in her excitement, she didn’t notice the cheers or the tape swapping her midsection.  She ran through, on and up the hill, her eyes focused on some invisible future place.  As she ran on, even through the night, she didn’t think of water or rest.  Running blinded her, as she ignored the messages of her muscles–overtaxed, in need of rest.  She ran on, never realizing the gift that running truly offered.

As gray met the finish, she leaned over with hands on knees, soaking in cheers, smaller in volume, but somehow louder than Magenta’s.  Gray smiled and took the ice water handed her, beautiful in its sweaty-slick sides.  The water slid down, cool on her throat.

Although gray didn’t come in first, her muscles sang a deeper victory as she stopped and took the rest she was offered.

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27

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