hoedls haven
Where Nature is the source of all artistic expression

Friday, December 8, 2006

Our lives are tethered together by a thin thread of friendship, spanning a lifetime of years. Two different men on the ends of Life's continuum, while finding myself somewhere in the middle. Oddly enough, I haven't thought of either in some time, but Life has a unique and mysterious way of weaving souls back and forth along the journey - as if stitching a colorful mosaic.

The first gentleman happens to be a lively eight-year-old boy named Andrew whom I coached this summer in youth baseball. Arriving to each game before most players, Andrew brought his own bat - and it happened to be the only wooden one of the whole group. I often thought that this bat was indicative of Andrew's style - when playing ball, he looked at the game in a unique and wonderful way. At bat or on the field, he had a concentration that seemed to say that it was just him and the ball. He never complained during the entire warm and humid season, with his only question being, "Is it my turn to bat yet, Coach?" A true joy and memorable young spirit, Andrew is! Following this summer's season, I didn't hear from Andrew's family... until they contacted me recently to inform me that Andrew was diagnosed with leukemia and has already been through a series of chemotherapy treatments already...

The second gentleman, Lawrence, occupies the other end of Life's continuum. From the moment I first met him in my youth, he always seem to possess an exuberant and faithful soul with a zest for life. For so many years, Lawrence has been a wonderful family friend of my parents and father of a high school classmate of mine. He is a proud husband, son, parent, and grandparent... who recently found out that his lung cancer has metastasized to his brain in the form of tumors. And at the moment of this reflection being written, Lawrence is at home with Hospice and his family...

Regardless of how many times you are told that loved ones and friends are ill or dying, it never ever seems right or fair or natural. And regardless of where you are on Life's continuum, you are never able to say you've lived enough of Life's journey to let it all go. It's terrifying, painful and paralyzing simply as an observer; I can't begin to imagine how it must be to be the one journeying through the illness or disease.

I received the news of both Andrew's and Lawrence's illness following different treadmill workout sessions in the same week. The news left me much more exhausted than any workout I could have undertaken. And so I sit in the midst of this glorious holiday season - helpless and hurting for Andrew, Lawrence and their families... and so many other families and individuals receiving similar news...

On the weekend of January 6-7, 2007, I am registered to run Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge; a combined two-day race event where the runner runs the Disneyworld Half-Marathon (13.1 miles) on January 6 and the Disneyworld Marathon (26.2 miles) on January 7. For every race I have ran in the past few years, I have dedicated that race to a particular person and have prayed for them throughout the race - as a human, it's my only way of feeling just a little less helpless and a little more connected to those in my life.

This January I will run to remember; to remember the zest of youth, the richness of saged living and the endless potential for hope. I'll run to remember that all that is good and holy and gracious and unique and treasured is often the intangible. This January I will be dedicating the Disneyworld Half-Marathon to Andrew and the Disneyworld Marathon to Lawrence.

I ask you not for donations or pledges, but to simply join me during the weekend of January 6-7 in a moment of personal prayer - for Andrew, for Lawrence and for those in your life most in need of God's gracious mercy. Ask for God's will to be glorified in all of its majesty through all of these lives - and to guide them through their pain and into his comforting grace.

I also ask you for a brief prayer that I can accomplish what is ahead of me. In October, I suffered a running stress fracture which left me with two broken toes and several weeks behind in my marathon training. Because of that, I acknowledge that these two races most likely will be painful at times for me, but I offer up that pain if it will possibly give Andrew and Lawrence one more moment of peace.

Finally, I ask you to take a moment during this holiday season and during the weekend of January 6-7 to spend just a few more minutes with your family and loved ones. Life's unique and mysterious way of weaving souls back and forth along the journey is not by accident, my friend. Remember and celebrate the zest of youth, the richness of saged living and the endless potential for hope in your life.

 
HOEDL'S HAVEN

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