A few years ago my running partner and I met up at six on a Saturday morning for an arduous 10 mile run. I called him “alarm clock” because our scheduled run guaranteed that I would arise from bed! After a few words of greeting we began the hilly course. Over the next hour or so we did not speak at all and when I returned home after the run, my friend asked about Alarm Clock. “Nothing? He literally had nothing to say?” she inquired with sarcasm. I defended myself and explained that we just said hi and ran.” She countered, “What is the point of running together then?”
My friend raised a good point. Besides living up to his name, AC helped with pacing and companionship, albeit often without words. We had trained and completed four marathons in that calendar year and I knew his breathing pattern and he knew my pacing issues. We would “fraternally correct” each other as necessary but it was the mere presence of my buddy that made the difference. It was comforting to have someone next to me and we both knew that we could “open up” if needed. The point is that while it was not always needed, it was available. We trained together and were linked; when he ran a strong race that was a reflection on me. Likewise, if I ran poorly, he felt partially responsible.
Our relationship with God can be a lonely one. We may feel that we are not on pace with a loved one or family member. Our friends may seem to be dashing in a different direction than we are going. Some of this happens naturally but some of it seems to be encouraged by some faiths, religious practices, and cultures. Religion in the United States, for example, is often considered so “private and personal” that even spouses do not want to talk about it. Personal piety and devotions ought to stay personal, some argue. Even the Christian penitential season of Lent has drifted from its original communal sense to a period of personal holiness and improvement.
How much richer would a relationship with God if we truly shared it with another person? How more enjoyable the journey if families prayed together? A husband knows his wife better than anyone else in the world so praying for her and with her is logical. A mother knows her child’s deepest flaws and greatest gifts, so why not be open to sharing those? Bringing our faith, spirituality, and the “larger purpose” into relationships enhances and deepens them. Ideally, a church is not just a common geographical place where like minded people worship together but a community gathered around similar beliefs and dedicated to helping each other grow in holiness. One may not always take advantage of this aspect, but at least it is there when needed. Then we can mourn in the sorrow of others and rejoice in the their blessings.