The Finish Line
Ancient frame that’s bent and bowed
Hurts more each passing day
Damage from some taken hits
Received along the way
Man who once was young and spry
Just stumbles down the hill
I never had life by the horns
Suppose I never will
All the others on the track
Have lapped me so it seems
Few remain to cheer me on
But oh, how much that means
That though alone – still in my lane
Most times at snail’s pace
Caring eyes out in the stands
Are here to cheer my race
I am a people watcher. I watch some people soar with the eagles in the way that they encourage others. Some people go out into the world having been beaten up, and only feel better after they have passed the beating along to the next person who does not deserve it. I watch as some people lie and manipulate someone else to get what they want. I have also seen people who are intent on doing right even though doing right slows you down in the race. You often appear to the world as a loser because you are still on the course, in your own lane, still plugging away toward the finish line.
I stopped in at a local food place in downtown Broadway a couple of weeks ago. Although I could not see the young lady in the booth next to mine, I was very interested in her conversation on the phone. The girl was talking to the Human Resources department at a local factory where her mother had recently found employment. The girl’s mother was needing to sign up for benefits, but the deadline to do so was today. The person with whom she was talking, told her that her mother needed to call in and speak to them in person.
The young lady in the next booth responded that her mother did not speak English and thus needed her help. She was then directed by the other person to have her mother come into Human Resources in person, and perhaps they would be able to assist her. The young lady in the booth next to me responded that her mother was at work now and would not get off until after Human Resources had closed. The young lady further asked why she was not allowed to give the information for her mother, when she would be giving the exact information that her mother would give them if her mother was the one making the call? Again, the person on the other end of the line stated that the rules prohibited them from signing up employees that way. The Young lady remained genuinely pleasant even though I am sure she was very frustrated. She had driven all the way here from the D.C. area to try and help her mother. I was so impressed at her diligence in the face of what seemed like insurmountable odds. Before I left the restaurant, I stopped to compliment her on her integrity. She asked me to take a seat. I told her of my own journey, and how much I desired to be righteous in my own run through this short race of time and space.
I enjoyed chatting with Claudia. I tried to pay for her lunch, but she had already done so. I was blessed the rest of the day because it felt like I was not in the race alone.
I thought back to another race in 1976. It was on the track of Doddridge County High School in West Union W.V. I don’t remember if I was running the 880, or just the 440 which to me seemed like the 880. Either way, I did alright for about half the race but then fizzled out.
It was discouraging to watch everyone else pull away, and eventually almost beat me by half a lap. It was a feeling which seemed prophetic as to how my life would be lived. I was barely walking when I crossed the finish line. There were no words to say, but the few nods my way, and a couple of pats on the back helped to shake off the feeling of total worthlessness. I hope I can at least provide that for others.
Run until you can’t, then walk. Walk until you can’t then hobble or crawl. The finish line awaits. But I think most importantly, make sure to encourage the runner who seems to have no other fans.
Happy New Year,