I found myself looking very closely yesterday at one of my favorite graphics in the entire house. It’s a framed poster that admonishes me to stick to my exercise regimens, even when it seems tough to do. Maybe you’ve seen this depiction yourself. The caption at the top reads, “The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” I recalled how many times I’ve run down roads just like the one pictured here, daunted by the stretch of road ahead, curious about what might have been just over the horizon, and ultimately energized by the realization that I had it within me to cover that ground if I so chose. Running is a blessing to me in and of itself, but sometimes to be able to see the distances, all in one glance like in this shot, creates an additional boost of energy. It’s like seeing a manifestation of the effort all in one forward-looking moment. Or when looking at the picture, receiving a reminder of the excitement and satisfaction of journeys once taken. If you’re a runner, a cross-country skier, a canoeist or a biker, you may know what I mean. If not, you’ll just have to imagine it and enjoy the picture simply for its great perspective!
My reflection yesterday got me to thinking about many of our partners in NIcaragua who run their own races every day. The road in front of them must seem endless, that for every stride forward there’s a wind or a wall to keep them back. The poor encounter great distances and ups and downs in their journeys far beyond the leisure-time efforts of a middle-aged runner like me. And they don’t really have the luxury of deciding whether or not they wish to continue on. For them, it’s not effort and reward, it’s life and death. It’s not whether they win the race but whether they and their families can survive. It’s not about being the fastest, but about being one who can keep on running.
When I become tired from running, or discouraged about any element of life, it’s my role models in Nicaragua who can most immediately pick me up and set me straight again. Values, priorities, realities and my most deep-seated beliefs are strengthened by people who many would regard as finishing last in their race. And therein lies the lesson: it’s the running that counts….