Voices: Training body, soul during Advent

By Shelley Metcalf
Catholic Spirit Staff

As I write this, I am in the final weeks of training for my first marathon. I’ve learned a lot about myself during the last several months. 
I started training on a whim in mid-summer. It was hot and humid, and it was hard, but thankfully, I was running with a good friend. On the first 10-miler, I could not fathom how I would run more. But I followed my training plan, and I did 13 the next week. Our mileage increased and the sweat continued to pour. The first time the temperature dropped to 60 degrees, we thanked God over and over for the cooler weather.
Then I ran my first 20-miler, and I cried from pain and frustration. My friend was injured, so I ran it alone, and my legs hurt, my stomach grumbled, my lungs ached. Thankfully, the training plan backed off a little, and the next few long runs were not so far. However, I was nervous, really, really nervous, and I started praying hard!
The temperatures cooled off more and the long runs were less difficult (never easy though). The weekend of Nov. 8, I did a 22-miler, the longest run in my training schedule. I began the run early in the morning, and as the sun came up, all those weeks of training finally came together. On that crisp Saturday morning, I realized I was ready. My legs were strong and ready for the distance, and my mind was prepared and ready to push through the discomfort. But I was still worried about the 26.2, and I was still praying hard.
Then last Sunday, we were early to Mass and I found myself reading through the Sunday Scriptures for Advent, and these words from Gaudete Sunday literally jumped from the page. 
“May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it,” says 1Thessalonians 5:16-24. 
Those words calmed my worries instantly, and I realized God had been with me at all times in the months of training. When I was hurting, tired and freaking out, God was with me. He knew that the best way for me to prepare for running this distance was to faithfully follow my training plan. So he was with me on the dark, early mornings, he was with me on the streets and sidewalks throughout Cedar Park, he is with me now as I reflect on those months of training, and he will carry me over that finish line on Dec. 7. 
This Advent, my prayer is that over these next four weeks I can prepare my spirit and soul for Christ as faithfully and as diligently as I have prepared my legs and my mind for 26.2 miles. I know God will be with me every step of the way, for he is far more faithful than I will ever be.

Shelley Metcalf and her family are parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Cedar Park. She has been editor of the Catholic Spirit since 2007.

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