Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

The Winner

by Ann Cavera


We've thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics these past couple of weeks. The skill and commitment of all of the Olympians are astonishing. Many of them have been working at a sport they love since they were toddlers. In fact, for many children, competitive sports begin early in life.

That's the way it was for "Jake." He found himself on a miniature cross country team in his kindergarten year. However, like most kindergarteners, Jake could be easily distracted. During the course of his first cross country season, he became known for frequent stops to take a rest or visit with another kid along the way to the finish line.

On one particular Saturday morning, just prior to the final race of the season, Jake told Coach Vickie that he was ready to stay the course. Since he was one of the youngest runners in the meet, she decided to run with him. From the starting point on top of a hill, they could see Jake's parents and the rest of the onlookers stationed on both sides of their path near the bottom. They were ready.

From about halfway back in the pack, Jake jumped at the sound of the gun and quickly picked up the pace. "That was your best start ever!" Vickie shouted. Jake, running with his head held high, broke into a smile. He even remembered to wave to his mom and dad when he passed through the cheering fans at the bottom of the slope.

After a few hundred yards, they reached the wooded part of the course. That's when something caught Jake's eye. Suddenly, he pulled up under a leafy tree and came to a full stop. "Wow!" he shouted to Vickie, who was still running with the pack. "Look at all the buckeyes!" With that, he began stuffing as many as he could into the pockets of his hooded sweatshirt and pants.

Vickie turned around and came back. "Come on, Jake. We need to catch up to the pack," she pleaded. Jake, having discovered a new mission, turned a deaf ear to her words. Even though he finished dead last that day, his pockets bulged with buckeyes and he wore a grin from ear to ear.

Cross country simply wasn't Jake's race. How often do we run as fast as we can in someone else's race? Do we chase trophies for shelves when we would rather be picking up buckeyes? 1 Corinthians 12 speaks to the variety of spiritual gifts and the usefulness of each gift.

Jake may not have won the race that day, but he was the only one with the vision to see what others missed. In this time of terrible tragedies in many places, it might be a good thing for us to slow down and travel with those of us who can recognize the beauty in seeds rather than winner's trophies.

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.