This year, unlike year’s past, I have no specific athletic event goals. No big races I’m training for….no “PR’s” I’m trying to obtain (although I haven’t given up on a sub-3 hr. marathon performance in the future). No…instead, after much thought at the end of 2013, I decided this was the year where “purpose” would come first…and my goal would be to pursue and develop a program that recruits and builds on the passion of others, so that we may collectively facilitate greater good through volunteered physical labor in this world in areas that need it…relying on things I know most – health & fitness. I call the program “Fit 4 Duty” and details are to come….BUT in prep…I vowed I’d find ways to invest in my personal spirit so that it may be centered and rich enough to keep me moving forward…in the RIGHT direction, putting first things first.
This weekend, after being recruited by friends and family members regularly over the last few years, I attended a men’s retreat at the church I’ve belonged to for all of my years 30 in NJ (since I was 3). While I’ve often considered myself someone of strong faith, and have had many moments in my life where I’ve felt an incredible sense of spirit burning inside of me, outside of regular attendance at Sunday mass, I’ve pretty much resisted anything that might seem a bit too “churchy” for me, and at times have gotten a little off path. Actually the thought….or even using the word “retreat” has historically been a bit out of my comfort zone. But having known and respected many of those who attended before me, including numerous community members, client-friends, parents, siblings & siblings-in-law (is there really any difference?), and most recently my brother Mike who has taken a slightly more active role with the group of organizers….I decided this year was the year I’d push out of my norm, and I promised myself to enter with an open mind.
Heading into the weekend, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, and had a decently realistic perspective on who I was….what my God-given talents are, and the principles and values for which I stand. I figured on some listening….some sharing…. and some reflection. But what I didn’t expect, at least as much, was the inspiration and wisdom I would receive from the other men in attendance, and the consistent opportunities that seemed to come slowly but surely one time after another, to refine my focus on what is (and maybe isn’t) important in life as each of us travels down our own unique roads.
I left the weekend feeling enriched, having learned a bit more about myself and my faith and gaining a deep appreciation for the others in attendance, and their willingness to share the lessons they’ve learned about themselves and the role God (and their faith) has played both in good times, but more powerfully…in the bad. I left the weekend feeling stronger, knowing that going through trying times is a part of EVERYONE’s life, but when relying on God, we can endure the hard times, and actually find strength in our pain. I left the weekend feeling blessed….blessed with an amazing support network at home, and a community that has allowed me every opportunity to thrive, should I choose to pursue them AND do the right things for the right reasons. And I left the weekend feeling clear….clear that while I’ll never be alone on my “journey” through life.. it doesn’t make it any less mine, full of choices and responsibilities, and opportunities for good….and after “randomly” selecting a bible out of a stack of 50 with the below passage highlighted…I’m clear that I’m on the right path.
“There are different kind of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service.” – 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6