Cardinals and Turkey Vultures

“Every journey begins with one step.”  Is that the way the common cliché goes?

It’s true, though.  We can only be where we are now, not where we should be, not where we’d pretend to be, not where we — hopefully — will be.  Here, now.  That’s what we’ve got.

Several years ago, I woke up one September morning with a burning desire to complete a marathon.  I just typed “run a marathon” and then hit the delete key as fast as you can say “unfit” and rewrote “complete a marathon.”  For I didn’t actually want to run at all.  I wanted to accomplish the completion of a marathon.

I hate running.  I don’t run.  I don’t plan to run.  But for 14 months beginning that morning in September 1997, I trained for the 1998 Marine Corps Marathon which seemed like a reasonable target. And training meant running.  So I did.

And I started my training by assessing what my baseline was.  15 minutes of tortured running got me half a mile (.5, 1/2… yep that’s the truth).  As I type it, I can’t believe it was QUITE that dire… but I think it was.  And looking at my watch, I thought, “Well, that’s where I’ll start.”  Which is my point.  We start where we are.  Eventually I ran a very slow marathon, and I completed it.  And I hung up my running shoes.  Or burned them.

Recently I’ve had a much more pleasant urge than that of marathon completion — birdwatching.  I just woke up one day and inexplicably thought, “I’ve got to get out and learn about all these birds.”  So I thought and thought about what birds I could definitively say I have personally witnessed and can identify… and I realized that I could claim two, the cardinal and the turkey vulture.  I know those two.  They constitute my “life list.”  I’m on my way.

One of "my" birds from -- probably -- Bergdorf Goodman, 2008. Does anybody know otherwise? Want to credit the right peeps.

Since then I have conceded that I’ve seen a robin (or 9,000,000).  And a merganser here and there.  And a few other specimens.  But most of them I cannot definitively identify even if they land on my head, which one something-or-other did do not too long ago…but that’s another story.

So I’m thinking about prayer and how we often wish we were more eloquent, more — well — prayerful, more in touch with God, more able to abide in Him.  And yet we can start right where we are… slow, dull, fully inhabiting our own baselines. Life happens in concrete reality, not in wishful thinking.  Whatever it is, is whatever it is.  And when we embrace that, we can move into the realm of “immeasurably more.”


~ by Cary on July 7, 2010.

One Response to “Cardinals and Turkey Vultures”

  1. […] via Cardinals and Turkey Vultures « Holy Vernacular. […]

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