I first encountered this word a week or so ago when I was transcribing a message my pastor had given last year on Good Friday. (Yes, I am a transcriptionist in my spare time.) It means, ‘it is finished’ and it’s what Jesus cried out on the cross, recognizing that his death there on the cross paid the full price for our sins and fully restored us in the eyes of God the Father. Tetelestai—it is finished. It was a common word of the day and it meant that a business transaction that was being conducted had been done satisfactorily or that a bill had been paid in full. If you had a contact and it was fulfilled, someone would write tetelestai on the bottom of that contract. Tetelestai—it is finished. I just love the way that sounds and what it means.
In pondering (obsessing over) that word this week, I found myself relating it to my marathon and getting excited for the moment that I could say ‘tetelestai’ about the marathon—it is finished. I found myself longing for the moment after I had crossed the finish line—not the victorious crossing of the finish line, but the moment after—the moment when it was finished. The moment when it all became past tense. The moment when I had stopped running, had received my medal, and could now add ‘marathon finisher’ to my life’s resume. What a great moment…when I could stamp my marathon journey tetelestai.
But wait! What about the journey itself? What about the 18 weeks of training, preparing my body and my mind for this huge endeavor? What about setting out in the darkness of the predawn hours and ushering in the sunrise as I run? What about the hours of conversations with Deb on our runs together? What about the hours of conversations with God on my solo runs? What about the strength, both physical and mental, that will slowly come from this commitment and discipline? What about the places those training runs will take me and the things I’ll see at 5 or 6 miles per hour that I could never appreciate at 50 or 60 miles per hour? What about the 5 or 6 (or more!) hours spent pushing myself to limits I’ve never known in one of my favorite places on earth on marathon day? What about all of that? If my eyes are so fixed on the moment after all of that just think of what I’ll miss.
So you see, that moment of tetelestai will surely be grand, but I can’t let my anticipation of that moment keep me from enjoying everything that stands between this moment and that one. There’s joy in the journey and I want to experience it!