Sunday, August 25, 2019

Persevere: "Every Day"

Though many presiders at Mass "mail in" the final blessing, one priest at my parish always sends us away with a charge to do more than "go forth and announce the Gospel." He takes a line from one of the readings and reminds us of our call, a task or opportunity, and an invitation to live more like Christ. 

Last week he urged us to "persevere in running the race." He raised his arms as a sign of encouragement.  His smile reminded me of the ones I once saw from spectators along the marathon course. However, one need not be a runner to understand the the message from the second reading, St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews. American life today is a race. We long to step off of the treadmill, and occasionally we do. For many, summer offers that welcome respite, but the race continues, the miles are many. The reminder to persevere is not in vain. Nor is the rest of the message: to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. 

The life of legacy of Joy Johnson captured in the "30 for 30" Short entitled "Every Day" is a story of a woman who persevered and kept her eyes on Christ. Among the many races she ran, she completed her 25th New York City marathon the day before she died, at the young age of 86.  New York Times' "The Life they Lived" honored Johnson with a profile piece entitled "A Marathoner Till the End." Is says
Running is a sport that rewards constancy, in both pace and attitude, which may explain why Joy Johnson was so good at it. As a senior citizen, she ran an average of three marathons a year, buttressed by dozens of shorter races, always with a bow in her hair.   
Though she had made a career teaching high-school physical education in Northern California, she herself didn't have an exercise regimen. Until one day in 1985, when she and her husband were newly retired and their four children all grown, Johnson, who was 59, took a three-mile walk and found it energizing. Soon she tried jogging and enjoyed that even more. Within a few years, she was going for regular 12-mile runs and became a fixture at local road races. 
From there on out, she awoke at 4 a.m. and fixed herself some coffee and a bowl of oatmeal, taking time to read the Bible before heading out to the nearby track at Willow Glen High School, the same place where she once taught. 
Born on Christmas Day, Johnson was often asked not why she took up running but why she stayed. Why run everyday? Her answers were simple every time: Running made her happy. It helped her sleep well at night. In "Every Day" she states "Each run I took, every single day was guaranteed to be different. All those days began with the most beautiful thing in the world: POSSIBILITY. It sounds simple, I know. But trust me—it's the very best part of being alive....never knowing what the next step will bring."
Her outlook gives me hope. I want to persevere. I am willing to run the race, replete with the possibility is affords. Let us keep our eyes on Christ, and pray to run with others, who have hearts and mind's like Joy's. 

In memory of this inspiring life, I invite you to pray the words that Joy Johnson did—every Day from Isaiah 40: 31
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings;They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.
Photo Credits
Dynamic Catholic
Lives they Lived

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