by Fr Duncan McVicar on 22/08/2011 -
I’ve heard it. I’ve read it. As long as I have been running, it’s always been the same message: “drink plenty of water.” All along most race courses are water stations, and most runners slow down to drink a cup of cool water. Keeping your water level up is critical when you run. If you get slightly dehydrated, you will not run well. If you get moderately dehydrated, you will become disoriented. If you get seriously dehydrated, you can die. It’s serious business. The first year I ran was 1991, and I was inexperienced (also younger, slimmer, stupider, etc.) I passed water stop after water stop, occasionally drinking a swallow or two. I felt good, and I wasn’t going to waste precious seconds drinking water, even though it was a hot, humid day. Big mistake. As I neared the final mile, I “hit the wall.” My energy level dropped to zero, I began having to walk some, and I realized I would have to work hard just to finish. I did make it across the line, but only with a tremendous headache and hardly enough energy to walk. It was not much fun. I learned an important lesson that year. Stopping for water doesn’t actually slow you down. In fact, you will run a better race if you do drink water. The bottom line is that your body is simply not designed to function without water. In the same way, your spiritual stamina depends on stopping for regular drinks of “spiritual water.” The dilemma for busy believers is finding time to invest in going to the Sacraments and meeting with God in prayer. Like the runner intent on reaching the finish line, we tend to put off those regular drinks of water until we are totally parched. But in the long run, you will run a better race if you will stop for spiritual water. In fact, finishing the Christian race at all may depend on it. And runners who don’t ever slow down to take a drink often stumble off the course far short of the finish line. In this year’s race, I saw a man become dehydrated just a mile from the finish. Strangely, he didn’t seem to recognize that anything was wrong. He was swaying from side to side as he walked, mumbling over and over, “I’m fine. I’m fine.” He was so disoriented that he didn’t even recognize his own sick condition. If you let yourself become spiritually dehydrated, you may not even be able to recognize it. Stop today to drink some cool “living water.” For serious Catholic runners, it’s a must.
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