Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, and no more greed. … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.—Thomas Merton
Saturday is packet pickup and transition set up day for the St Anthony’s triathlon. I am surrounded my millions of dollars of intimidating equipment. Statuesque bodies set up $5,000.00 bikes, $350.00 swim skins, $200.00 running shoes, and various other equipment lined in perfect rows. As I look out into the ocean that is to be my battleground, I feel deflated. I’m a trail runner, I don’t belong here. How did I get talked into this?
But on race morning as I line up with one hundred and twenty other 40-44 year old females, I no longer feel threatened, but INSPIRED! Our bodies are squeezed into black wetsuits and our hair is hidden under red swim caps. We kiss the sand with our painted toenails and goggles disguise the color of our eyes. We look the same. The same nervous energy bounces through the crowd as we swing our arms to warm up. We gasp the same breath as we step into the cold ocean. Our hearts have the same intention, our souls the same courage. For a moment I ponder how each woman came to be here. Is she a mom? Does she work full time? Does she train at 3 in the morning or 9:00 at night? What has she endured? What has she given?
The horn sounds and as we dive into the choppy ocean together in one big group, I am reminded once again of the divinity that resides within all beings. Fancy equipment or not, we are all God.