Well, I know you’re surprised that I got a bit behind, but, well, it happens. My mind races 90 miles an hour, but I’ve always been a slow moving person. The combination can be almost deadly. I’m a sloth with ADHD. Not pretty.
Since I forgot, or didn’t have time or motivation, to write yesterday, let me just mention briefly here that several of my goals go hand in hand and they are slowly beginning to be realized. Here are the goals, then I’ll tell you how I am realizing them: run a marathon, finish the Racine 70.3, ride a century ride on the bicycle, and swim the 5K at Big Shoulders in Chicago. This may seem like a lot to accomplish for most folks, but for me, the only one that even makes me nervous as far as completing it, since I’ve never completed one before, is the marathon. I swear on all that’s holy (sort of) that if I start this marathon in October and don’t finish . . . I’ll just try again next year. I’m nothing if not resilient. Or dumb.
I’ve signed up for the Medtronic marathon in the Twin Cities, the Racine 70.3. When I get paid on Friday, I’ll sign up for Big Shoulders and Headwaters 100. Of all of these events, I look forward most to Big Shoulders. I’ve never swum a 5K before, and I’ve never swum in Lake Michigan by Chicago, so it’ll be all kinds of new stuff. I’m most worried about Racine 70.3 on a “how will I look level”, because I think I’ll have to rent or buy a wetsuit, and squishing myself into a wetsuit is conceivably my very worst nightmare.
Imagine if you will: a giant caterpillar trying to shed its skin swimming in a lake.
Body segments and all.
That’ll be me in a wetsuit.
I’m getting ready to ramp up my activity to train for all this mess. In fact, I’m adding swimming and biking back in gradually, so I can move up gently now that I am no longer sick. I swear I’ve felt drained for about three weeks, and I was really sick for about four days, which is really unlike me. It’s cool. Now if I can get some of this weight off and keep my foot from hurting, it’ll be a miracle.
“Listen. Look. Suffer and be still. Release yourself into the light. See with intellect. Learn with discretion. Suffer with joy. Rejoice with longing. Have desire with forbearance. Complain to no one. My child, be patient and release yourself, because no one can dig God out from the ground of your heart.” —anonymous, “The Silent Outcry”
I’m not really sure what to make of this little pamphlet of guidance. I understand what each sentence means, but when they’re thread together, I get nervous about what the writer means and how her advice might affect my daily life. I have no problem listening and looking, but that’s about where it stops. When I read “suffer and be still,” I think of people with mental illnesses who think suffering in silence is their best option, and I want to scream out, “No! Don’t suffer and be still. Tell someone you’re suffering.” I suppose, however, this writer refers to a spiritual suffering, not an emotional one. In which case, what does it even mean to suffer? I am unsure that I have ever actually suffered. For anything. In any regard. I move forward in the text and see three phrases that intrigue me, but mystify me as well.
“Release yourself into the light” could mean a variety of things. Does this text refer to the moments just before death? Given that the hearer is asked to listen, look, and suffer in silence, possibly the writer is speaking about death. But We can do all those things while wholly alive and well, too. “See with intellect” and “learn with discretion” appeal to me in every sense. And, of course, it reminds me a bit of the transcendentalists, who ask their readers to really see things, to look beyond their mundane usefulness and to locate the beauty, to really see the objects and to really understand them.
The writer then brings the text back around to suffering, longing, desiring, and complaining. The long and the short of this bit of advice seems to me to be that we should revel in whatever is happening around us, that we should simply be grateful we’re alive. Additionally, this part of the text seems to highlight our human need for binaries: suffer/joy, rejoice/longing, desire/forbearance, and complaint/silence. We’re to fully experience both emotions, so that we can rely on God. The last line of the excerpt above illustrates where the readers strength is supposed to come from: “no one can dig God out from the ground of your heart.” You may suffer, you may rejoice, you may experience desire, and you may not be able to tell anyone, but for certain, no one can dig God out from your heart. Like Psalm 1 says, “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” Likewise, contemplatives, mystics, people who seek to follow Jesus are like those same trees planted by the waters, wherein God is also like who is planted inside them. Listen, look, suffer and be still. Let the silence break the silence and rejoice in whatever comes your way.