Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pope Francis Urges People to Slow Down and Rediscover Silence

This date marks Ash Wednesday, a Christian day for peace and the first day of Lent -- which is six weeks of repentance before Easter. Today, Pope Francis, leading Catholics into the season of Lent, urged people to slow down amid the noise, haste and desire for instant gratification in a high-tech world to rediscover the power of silence. I must admit... I really like that. We do have a world that seems to run full throttle 24/7/365. There is indeed great power in slowing down and rediscovering silence.

I've been a Christian for about 45 years and was baptized at the age of 12 in the Baptist church. My faith is very important to me and I give all credit to God for the abilities I have, the successes I've experienced, and for the blessings I've received. As I read the words of Pope Francis I recalled a time when I was forced to "slow down" and to rediscover silence. That time came after I completed a solo ultra-endurance run that nobody had ever accomplished before -- my run across the Mojave Desert from the south rim of the Grand Canyon to Badwater Basin at Death Valley. In order to accomplish the task, I pushed 100 pounds of water, gear and food 506 miles in 17 days, my running steps touching the states of Arizona, Nevada and California. The cost? Two herniated disks in my lower back which required physical therapy and slowing down!

The picture accompanying this blog post is me standing with a cane, the day I was diagnosed in 2011. My facial expression clearly shows that I was not happy. Although I made it across the finish line at the end of the Mojave Desert run, there was indeed a price to pay. During the latter part of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, I did the work necessary to get my back repaired. However, the two herniated disks did indeed stop me in my tracks, forced me to experience a silence in my running career unlike ever before, and made me slow down and reflect on life in a very unique and magnified way. In many ways, that injury was a blessing.

There are often many wonderful things that can come from slowing down and rediscovering silence. If you haven't tried it for awhile, take Pope Francis' advice!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso