In the Beginning…

29 11 2009

Beginnings are odd things.

Most of the time we associate a beginning with the arrival of something – a new job, a new baby. But all too often the work, the beginnings of that started long before.

It used to drive me crazy that the church year didn’s start with Christmas. I mean it makes sense if you think about it. We should be celebrate the birth of Jesus as the mark of a new year – a new chance for humanity, the birth of a new faith, a new page in the salvation story.

But instead we have Advent. This strange four week season were we are told to turn over a new leaf by waiting. We begin with stalling. It made no sense to me whatsoever.

It wasn’t until my mother made a great point several years ago that my opinion started to change. She reminded me that Mary had been pregnant for 9 months. For Mary this new life didn’t just start on the day Jesus was born. He had been growing and moving and kicking within her for months. And every day of that had been anxious, joyful and active anticipation. Sure to the outside eye all Mary had been doing was waiting, but I’d hardly call being very pregnant in the Middle East during the summer doing nothing.

So maybe beginnings aren’t as glamorous or easy as we’d like them to be. Maybe there is a lot of preparation and effort that goes unnoticed or unrecognized. Maybe it’s easy to feel like we are spinning our wheels, when we are really doing essential background work.

I keep reminding myself of that. Training officially starts for me tomorrow (Monday) and I’ve been out on a few runs lately. It’s been bad friends. I “took it easy on my body” the last two months and it feels like my muscles just quit on me. So as I stare the start of a 5 month training period in the face, I remind myself that I wasn’t born a triathlete. I got there hour after unglamorous hour of training. The beginning of that process wasn’t met with parades or excitments – it was just another swim workout in the pool, that on the surface, seemed just like any other I’d done.

My faith and Advent have taught me to know better. Advent has taught me to know that real beginnings are often humble things, but are absolutely necessary. The work, the prep, the “waiting” are part of what shapes us.

The recovery in New Orleans has the same lesson to teach me. The city’s new beginning after Katrina doesn’t happen when the entire city is fixed up, all the displaced returned to their homes and all the businesses reopened. New Orlean’s new beginning has been underway since the day after the hurricane. It’s worked out and celebrated in every family that comes back and every shop that opens. Its humble and hard and so very human. But so very graced.

So I hope you celebrate with me today the start of Team Enduring Hope 2009-2010. We have 20 people. You read that right, 20 people who are coming together to be a team and raise money and awareness for New Orleans. This is the beginning of a new and exciting journey for many of us and it had humble beginnings last year in a phone call between two friends. But isn’t that how all great things start?

 

~~~Susan Haarman, Triathlete, Athletic Coordinator~~~

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