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© Rev. Rich Nelson.  All rights reserved.  www.revrichnelson.com

Endurance

a poem for the New Year

by Rich Nelson


In my time I have met many people

Some for a passing moment

Some became a part of me

And I a part of them


Some of them were bold

Some of them were bolder

Some of them were strong

Some of them were stronger


Some had youth that seemed eternal

Streaming from a wellspring of joy

Others were aged from before the ages

Old before they ever knew young


Some lived fast lives in the slow lane

Some drove so slowly they made

Everyone behind them wait

More than their patience could bear


But there is one thing everyone I’ve

Ever met has been

It is simply our definition

We are all runners in the human


Race


We cry out

From the starting line

The bang of the gun ringing

In our ears


And from there we begin

At whatever pace life affords

At whatever pace we can muster

And we don’t stop


We can’t stop

We won’t stop

Until there is nothing left to do

But stop


The only thing that distinguishes us

One from the other

Is how we choose to run

The Race


Some of us run to win

Whatever the prize may be

Even if it is nothing more

Than the joy of running

We run to win


Some of us run to keep up

Never getting ahead

Never very far from the hand

Of the person in front of us

Trying to keep up


Some of us run for health

Knowing that with each step

We make the next one better

Even if the blisters try

To tell us otherwise


Some of us run to keep running

Knowing that if we slow down

It will be hard to get up to speed

Again, and so we keep running

To keep running


The wise among us run for fun

Dancing with the shadows beneath

Our feet, Not worrying about who

Is ahead of us or who might

Be closing in from behind


The foolish among us run for fear

Some are not foolish but scarred

Or scared, afraid that one missed

Step will mean our last

Running for fear of rest


Those who know how run with the wind

The light of the horizon skipping

Across their heads

Unconcerned with whether the light

Means sunrise or sunset


And some still run with a purpose

Knowing they cannot change the past

And cannot control the future

And so they run right now

For a cause beyond themselves


And all of these people

All keep on running

And the one thing that binds us

Is that we are runners


“Therefore, since we are surrounded

by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us also lay aside every weight

and the sin that clings so closely


and let us run with

perseverance The Race

that is set

before us”


I know of no secret

Shortcut, no path whose

Terrain is any less rocky

Than the one I’m on, for I

Am but a fellow runner


I have blisters too

And the pain has taught me

As only a true master

Teacher can teach you

To Endure


This I have learned no other way

In fact, there is no other

Teacher in all the world

Who wants to teach

This lesson


The blisters will come

They will sting

They will scream

Telling you to stop, but you

Cannot, and so


I know of no secret except for

This one small thing that has

Made all the difference

For me and my

Running, it is that


It is easier to run

When you have someone

Up front

Who knows

The Way


This small thing

May not seem like much

At first, and indeed

It is not much

At first


But something about it

Is just enough

To keep you going

When almost nothing

Else will


There is a point

In the run where it ceases

To be running and becomes

Something else

Altogether


There is a point

In the run where the effort

Becomes effortless

And the flow is carried by

Something or someone

Beyond


There is a point

In the run where movement

Ceases to be movement

And instead becomes

Stillness


And it is no longer you

That is pushing through space

And time, but rather

Time and space that pushes

Through you


And the key to this

Is to follow

The Runner

That is running The Race

before you


When I’ve been so humble

As to let the first runner

Set the pace for me

It’s kept me going

Simply by knowing


That the person in front

Of me could do it

And that was enough

To convince me that

I could keep going too


“So great a cloud of

Witnesses” have run

This path in their own

Lifetimes, and when we

Allow ourselves


To be caught up in the

Great whirlwind

Of those who have

Gone this way before

It is enough


To keep us

running

too