A guy that I work with had a sky diving accident almost 3 years ago. He was hospitalized for over a month ending up with two broken vertebrae, titanium rods in both legs coupled with a few other less brutal injuries.
I met him almost 2 years ago when I started working at my current job, he had only joined a month earlier after recovering from his near fatal fall. I distinctively remember seeing streaks of blood stains occasionally on the back of his shirt, thinking he must have had a back injury..
A few months later he started training for Iron Man Triathlon and successfully completed it in the following Summers. Within a few weeks he competed in Ultra Iron Man Triathlon as if one Iron Man wasn’t enough of an accomplishment (or chastisement for the body !?). I found it quite remarkable for somebody who had a near fatal experience, his body showing clear marks of what it had been through, to tune it to achieve this athletic fiat! Had he told me that he hoped to participate in the Iron Man at the time he shared the details of his accident with me, I would have wished him luck, empathizing with him at his almost certain failure to complete let alone complete such a physically challenging race.
It made me think that part of the reason why I understand and appreciate his accomplishment is because I have seen him achieve it, thinking it nearly impossible. If rigorous training and self discipline can help a battered body attain such a physical state; why is it so difficult for us to comprehend that people, who dedicate their lives in the attainment of one goal – knowing their Creator, and continuously strive to cleanse themselves spiritually, can have a stronger connection with God and can achieve certain spiritual graces by conditioning their soul through devotional practices and spiritual exercises ?
Why are we so determined to see proofs of spiritual significance in the physical/material realm when the demonstration of a spiritual gift runs counter to the essence of spirituality? Why do we have to see to believe ? Is it because our scientifically conditioned mental arrogance leads us to think that that the modern man of our age has achieved the height of intelligence and nothing is beyond the grasp of our minds!? Just because something has not happened in our times or in front of our eyes does not make it an impossibility !?
Professional sports men to me are very similar to gnostics, one tries to acheive a physical state through exercises, self discipline and commitment to excel at a particular sport and the other exerts his energies at purifying and conditioning his soul to develop a stronger connection with God..